Counselor's Corner Blog
April 14, 2021
The majority of clients with substance use disorders miss their second outpatient session (Duncan, Miller & Sparks, 2004). A main reason for this is the fact that our deficit based model can negatively impact client engagement. We are taught to search for deficits, setbacks and pathology early in the counseling relationship.
March 12, 2021
Laughter as the great equalizer. Maya Angelou told Oprah Winfrey that only equals laugh with each other. Many clients with substance use disorder enter counseling feeling that they have failed, which often leads to defensiveness. Laughter can be instrumental in decreasing that defensiveness.
Addictions professionals who work with African Americans with substance use disorders need to be trauma specialists. Like Douglass and Malcolm, many African Americans with substance use disorders have legacies of historical and current trauma that include slavery, lynchings, mass incarceration, police brutality, high unemployment, and community violence.
Much of substance use disorders treatment involves individual and group therapy. Family therapy is often a neglected modality. While many programs offer Family Night once or week or once a month, that is not an intense enough dosage of family support to counter the trauma of early family recovery.
The holiday season between Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s creates a challenge for individuals working to maintain their recovery for multiple reasons. Seeing loved ones drinking can trigger drinking thoughts that lead to relapse. Many clients in early recovery have stated, “It seemed like everyone was having fun except me during the holiday.” Other holiday triggers include financial distress, unhealthy family dynamics, disappointments of not feeling loved during holidays, and limited experience dealing with holidays drug- or alcohol-free.
Relationships are one of the main causes of relapse (Daley & Douaihy, 2015); thus, an essential part of recovery is helping clients develop healthy relationships. One definition of a substance use disorder is “a relationship with a chemical (drug) that serves as a substitute for true human intimacy.” (Sanders, 2019). Once clients learn to develop healthy relationships in recovery, they no longer need chemicals the same way they needed them in the past.