Counseling is a set of methods adapted to individual clients, and designed to help that client progress toward mutually determined goals about her/his recovery.
A competent counselor understands and has the ability to apply the many different models of addiction counseling. Counseling includes:
- Individual counseling
- Group counseling
- Couples counseling
- Families counseling
Our main goal is to establish a helping relationship with our client. A helping relationship is non-judgmental, which creates an environment of warmth, respect, genuineness, and empathy in which our client can feel safe to talk about the most difficult issues in her/his life.
Counseling is not about just listening people talk about their problems. Being non-judgmental is not something we decide to do, but someone we learn how to be. To accomplish this, drug addictions counselors need to know:
- Approaches to counseling that are person-centered and have demonstrated effectiveness in the treatment of substance abuse disorders
- Meaning of warmth, respect, genuineness, concreteness, and empathy ( not your personal definition, but the meaning of these concepts as they apply to the helping relationship)
- Active listening
- Transference and countertransference
Counseling is all about getting our client engaged in her/his own treatment and recovery process. Addictions counseling is not about telling people what to do and how to live their lives, or imposing our morals and values on them. As I have mentioned before, counselors need to know:
- theories and research about client’s motivation
- counseling theories to promote client engagement
- stages of change
Our goals (as counselors) in counseling, are:
- To work with our client to establish realistic and achievable goals
- To promote our client’s knowledge, skills, and attitudes towards positive change, including the maintenance of health and prevention of HIV/AIDS, tubeculosis, STDs, hepatitis C, and other infectious diseases
- To work appropriately with our client to recognize and discourage all behaviors inconsistent with the progress in recovery
- To know when, how, and why to involve the client’s significant others
- To facilitate the development of basic life and social skills
- To make constructive therapeutic responses when the client’s behavior is inconsistent with the agreed recovery goals.
- To apply crisis prevention and crisis intervention skills