Counselor's Corner Blog
September 6, 2023 | By: Laura Saunders, MSSW
Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) is an evidence-based, cost-saving substance use prevention service, as well as an important public health intervention method. Approximately 26% of adults in the U.S. report... [continue reading]
September 6, 2023 | By: Mark Sanders, LCSW, CADC
As I participated in the 3rd Annual Walk for Recovery hosted by Southern Illinois Recovery Network in honor of National Recovery Month 2023, I reflected on how far this region has come in tackling the challenge of substance use disorders (SUD). Approximately 15 years ago, this rural region that comprises the southern third of Illinois was in the midst of... [continue reading]
Integrating Spirituality and Counseling for African American Clients with Mental Illness and Substance Use Disorders, Part 2
September 6, 2023
Kisha Freed and Mark Sanders share their perspectives on the integration of spirituality and counseling as a culturally responsive approach to behavioral health treatment for African Americans. In this installment, they explore various methods for integrating spirituality and counseling for African American clients in recovery and fostering a connection of trust and care in therapist-client relationships.
Teeth Are Just Bones: A Longtime Technology Transfer Specialist Shares Three Lessons Learned in Helping Organizations Implement Evidence-Based Practices
August 2, 2023
In recognition of the ATTC Network’s 30th Anniversary, Mark Sanders, LCSW, CADC, a longtime technology transfer specialist, shares three lessons learned about how organizations can successfully implement evidence-based practices.
Integrating Spirituality and Counseling with African American Clients With Mental Illness and Substance Use Disorders, Part 1
May 19, 2023
Kisha Freed and Mark Sanders share their perspectives on the integration of spirituality and counseling as a culturally responsive approach to behavioral health treatment for African Americans. This is part one of a three-part series.
The Power of Music, Part 2: Using Hiphop to Increase Emotional Intelligence and Help Prevent Substance Use Disorders in Adolescents and Young Adults
December 6, 2022
This is the second part of the Power of Music series. In this article, Kisha Freed discusses her experiences empowering youth through hiphop and how encouraging free expression through music can help prevent substance use disorders and increase the social-emotional intelligence in adolescents and young adults.
The Power of Music, Part 1: Using Music to Reinforce Culture and Support Recovery From Substance Use Disorders
December 6, 2022
This article by Mark Sanders discusses the intersection of music, culture, and addiction, as well as how service providers can use music to support SUD recovery.
May 16, 2022
This article briefly reviews the evolution of SUD treatment and offers three methods that professionals can use to establish collaborative bonds with clients and communities while continuing to deliver evidence-based treatment and recovery services.
April 4, 2022
This article envisions five ways prevention, treatment and recovery can work together to help break intergenerational patterns of substance use disorders.
March 1, 2022
Often the phenomenon of parallel process operates in supervisor-counselor relationships: Counselors recreate what occurs in supervisor-counselor interactions in therapeutic relationships with their clients.
January 20, 2022
January is the perfect month for counselors to talk with their African American clients about creating new alcohol-and drug-free celebrations that can increase cultural pride, teach history, and help maintain recovery every day of the year, holidays included.
January 3, 2022
Mental illness and substance use disorders co-occur at the rate of 50 to 70%. Therefore, to be effective, it is essential to address both disorders in treatment (Atkins, 2021). To increase effectiveness, programs can analyze their current level in addressing co-occurring disorders and plan for programmatic improvements.
December 2, 2021
During the holiday season from Thanksgiving to New Year’s many counselors work with clients on relapse prevention plans. One effective relapse prevention strategy comes from the late Terrance Gorski, known as a pioneer of relapse prevention.
November 1, 2021
Historically, a lack of integration between the mental health and addictions professions has led to fragmented services. The end result has been that many clients slip through the cracks, going back and forth between mental health treatment, substance use disorder treatment, periods of homelessness, medical hospitalizations, and prisons—without recovering.
October 3, 2021
Licensed substance use disorders counselors and recovery coaches have complementary skills. The synergy they create when they work together benefits their clients seeking recovery.
September 1, 2021
I have learned that anytime I feel pessimistic about this challenging work, all I have to do is think about former clients who are doing well.
August 2, 2021
Studies reveal that clients who complete treatment have higher recovery rates than those who drop out. Conflict is a leading cause of premature terminations among group members (Yalom, 2020). This post describes strategies for reducing conflict in SUD treatment groups.
July 1, 2021
Quality supervision mirrors good counseling. Just as it is helpful for counselors to incorporate timely client feedback into clinical practice, it’s also helpful for observation and feedback to be incorporated into clinical supervision.
May 14, 2021
Clients with substance use disorders face many obstacles on the road to recovery, including loss and unresolved grief. Counselors can help by cultivating awareness of client’s losses and the skills to help them with the grieving process.
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.