The birth of counselling came about during the second World War as soldiers having completed their ‘tour of duty’ often suffered with shell-shock, nowadays known as PTSD needed someone to hear their stories and purge themselves of nightmare experiences. This initially simplistic ‘humanistic’ approach proved invaluable and over the years various modalities, approaches, techniques and strategies have been developed creating what is now a broad spectrum of different therapies that can be utilised to assist clients psychologically.
It is interesting that as counselling and psychotherapy grows and new processes are developed there are those who now come under the heading of being ‘old school’ practitioners! In other words, good old fashioned, not overly directive counselling can still prove to be effective for many clients as apposed to more stringent approaches!
What is Addiction Counselling?
Addiction Counselling is an extremely challenging role that is not widely understood.
Primarily addiction counseling is about creating a safe environment and space so as the client can explore and begin to address their psychological issues. The counsellor has a responsibility to build a therapeutic alliance, in other words, build a trusting and supportive relationship with the client. Clients mostly engage in avoidant attitudes and behaviours which can truly ‘test’ the counsellors ability to the maximum which is of course underpinned by the client’s history of poor communication, poor self image and often an inner hatred that drives dysfunctional attitudes and behaviours that, over time have to be addressed by the counsellor.
A counselling relationship can, for many clients be the first relationship in their lives that actually has boundaries in place which can be very challenging for the client who is simply not used to this aspect of life! Addiction counselling can be highly emotive as clients start to gain insight into their past and present attitudes and behaviours sometimes igniting degrees of guilt and shame for example. It is the counsellors responsibility to also guide their clients away from denial and introduce them to elements of reality which, understandably can be overwhelming for the clients.
Working with a client over a three month period can be intense yet highly rewarding, especially when a client starts to see past the fog of addiction and starts to take a genuine interest in what life has to offer. All clients must engage in an aftercare programme in their home area which Twin Rivers will have arranged in advance.
There Is No Quick Fix
There is no shortage of clients who think that recovery is not such a bad idea but they are ‘wired’ to engage in self-will and start to work their own programme instead of working alongside their counsellor. This is commonplace and its the counsellors responsibility to deliver aspects of reality so as the client does not become lost in their own unrealistic expectations. Clients have to wake up to the fact that by living life their own way only got them to rehab and NOWHERE ELSE IN LIFE!
Its understandable really as addiction offers fast track methods of avoiding feelings and numbing day to day life. Recovery does not have this kind of delivery system and thank goodness for that otherwise recovery, as a process would not exist!
What Addiction Counselling Is Not!
Addiction counselling involves a lot of challenges processes for clients in an attempt to challenge the clients illness. We have to remember that addiction is the ONLY illness known to man that addicts fight to keep! These challenges are not excessively directive as clients do not generally respond well to being told what to do, especially as they already feel bad enough about themselves. Addiction counselling is NOT punitive but rather based on repeat invitations to do things differently. It a very hard sell to an addict whose natural response is to defend and rebuff which is why is important for clients to feel that they have not been given up on. Despite the kicking back and acting out, its a counsellors responsibility to maintain focus and keep delivering a message of hope.