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Behind the Scenes on “Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew”

Actors, rock music stars, and other notables have been appearing on VH1’s television show “Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew” for three seasons, seeking help kicking drug and alcohol addictions.

Dr. Drew Pinsky and his staff are seen leading various group therapy sessions. But what you may not know is that social worker and National Association of Social Workers member Sherry Gaba, MSW, is behind the scenes providing counseling to some of the troubled clients who appear on the program.

“It is one-on-one therapy,” said Gaba, who first started working with Pinsky when he hosted a daily radio show. “It’s behind the scenes although everything I do is filmed. Most of the group work is with Drew and Bob Forrest (chemical dependency program director at Las Encinas Hospital).”

During the second season in 2008 Gaba counseled Stephen Adler, former drummer for the hard rock band Guns N’ Roses. At one time Adler suffered a stroke and was comatose after injecting “speedball,” a mixture of heroin and cocaine. His speech is now permanently impaired.

Sherry Gaba behind the scenes with Dr. Drew Pinsky on "Celebrity Rehab 3." Photo courtesy of www.sgabatherapy.com.

“Do you want to work on your anger issues,” Gaba asked Adler during therapy.

“I don’t really have anger with my mother,” he answered. However, Gaba had struck a nerve. Adler began to complain about how his mother allegedly stole his money and rejected him and how he sued her to regain power of attorney.

Gaba gently cut in. “Stephen, we always, always want our parents’ approval. She is your mother, there is no question. But what is your part in this?”

And during the third season Gaba helped Michelle Moyer, wife of drug addicted basketball star Dennis Rodman, talk about whether she would stay in the marriage. Moyer later filed for divorce.

 Gaba say her scenes are not aired because therapay is best done privately. However, appearing on the program has helped Gaba promote her business and the clips of her counseling shown online show the public some of the myriad services social workers can provide.

 “I’m very proud to be a social worker,” Gaba said. “I think we’ve done a terrible job of telling what we can do.”

She explains that treating celebrities is no different than serving everyday clients.

“It’s not more difficult,” she explained. “But if you want to know why some get into drugs and alcohol for some there is a genetic disposition. But they have other pressures that normal people don’t have. They have the paparazzi and are scrutinized, sometimes they have narcissistic personalities, or are wounded by the press, enabled by the people who surround them, or want to live up to the press. A lot of them get entitlements that other people don’t get.”

Gaba also does not consider “Celebrity Rehab,” which shows celebrities at some of the lowest points in their professional and personal lives, as merely lurid, shock television. Celebrities are given a lot of therapy and other help behind the scenes that doesn’t get on camera.

“Dr. Drew’s intention is to help them,” she said. “Is it exploitative? No.”

Sherry Gaba at the 2010 PRISM Awards and (inset) counseling former Guns N Roses drummer Stephen Adler on "Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew."

Gaba, who originally got an undergraduate degree in journalism, had a baby and had to raise her daughter alone. She was inspired to go back to college and become a social worker because social workers advocated for her when she was a single mother.

In a way she is mixing her early love for journalism with a love of social work. She is quoted on news and talk shows and has a new book, “The Law of Sobriety: Attracting Positive Energy for a Powerful Recovery,” which will be released in September.

Gaba, who has been a NASW member since 1999, said other social workers should do media outreach to promote the positive things they do for others.

“It’s just tenacity and persistence,” she said about her ability to get media coverage. “Some of it I have done myself but during ‘Celebrity Rehab’ I hired a publicist. I hope what I have done encourages other (social workers) to follow and get into media if they want.”

To learn more about how social workers such as Sherry Gaba help people overcome addictions, visit NASW’s “Help Starts Here” Addictions Web page by clicking here. You can also pre-order Gaba’s book at Amazon.com by clicking here and at Barnes & Noble by clicking here.

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5 Comments

  1. She makes us proud to be SW that’s for sure!! Love what she says about promoting “our work. ” Way to go Sherry!!!

  2. I think Sherry’s job is interesting and it’s something I would love to do . I love Dr. Drew!!!!

    (P.S. Kesia won first place in the NASW Florida student video contest. Here’s a link to her very moving video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2kjEPKVVL6s)

  3. Dr. Drew is awesome! Wish I could work with him.

  4. Fun job, but how are they ethically able to actually give names and specifics for what was talked about if her sessions are not aired/filmed?

  5. I love Dr. Drew and his team. Sherry is a real blessing to them. What a great way to demonstrate the wonderful work Social Workers do every day!

    God bless the “celebrities” who agree to have their treatment and recovery process documented. Recovery is a VERY tough road and kudos to EVERY recovering addict for his/her courage to pursue LIFE.

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