The Origins of TOUGHLOVE

The TOUGHLOVE Program for Parents of Adolescent Children was developed in the 1970's by Phyllis and David York. The Yorks were family therapists who worked in one of the most famous drug and alcohol rehabs of its time, training counselors, working with clients and their families, and conducting a private practice in addition to being State Drug and Alcohol Trainers for Pennsylvania, USA. 

While they were gaining acclaim as experts in their fields, they were suffering the same kinds of problems we all have here - their kids were out of control. They tried everything - counseling, therapy for the kids, themselves, the family, private school, judo lessons, riding lessons, getting tougher, more permissive, more understanding, etc.

Nothing worked, and things got worse until their daughter was arrested for armed robbery. Then the Yorks asked other adults to intervene for them. They took a STAND that said, "We will not tolerate a criminal in our house."

Their supportive adults went to the prison and decided when to take clothing, cigarette money, etc. They provided bail money when it was appropriate, let her know what she had to do to come home - go through a drug treatment program and get a job - and most importantly, they provided ongoing SUPPORT for her to help her make the necessary changes. They also kept the parents informed of progress, letting them know that their daughter was okay.

Finally their plan worked, and their daughter began to change, to be successful at new, acceptable behaviours.  Recognising the value of peer support, the Yorks started a support group for parents of their clients at the rehab, wrote a manual for other parents to form self-help groups, The TOUGHLOVE Program was recommended by magazine columnist, Ann Landers, which resulted in the arrival of 20,000 letters from parents, to the Yorks' little office in Pennsylvania!

The Yorks appeared on television and in most major magazines and newspapers in the U.S. and in 1985 a movie about addiction and "TOUGHLOVE" was made for american television. TOUGHLOVE Parent Support Groups spread throughout the United States and Canada and many other countries, including New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, Germany, Korea and Brazil.