Chemical dependency · Christianity · Counseling

Was Counseling Helpful? Working In Chemical Dependency – Part 2

At times I wonder how my old clients are doing: are they still clean and sober?  Have they gone back to using drugs or alcohol, and what have they learned in their lives?  How many may have “found God”, and come to the Lord?

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In treatment, they were asked to learn about the progression of their “disease”, and spend time looking at their triggers, past history and learn to identify what caused some to use drugs and “self-medicate” to cope with their suffering.  Many grew up in families where drugs and alcohol were used, and many grew up where families were non-supportive of their dreams in life… I can relate to that issue, not being supported by family.  

It does cause a great amount of pain, to not have good family relationships, to not feel cared about by your siblings and parents, just a taker-upper of space, a “useless eater”, a person that goes unknown, and needs food, clothes and a place to stay for the night.

The inadequacy of drug treatment always bothered me.  We had plenty of people seeking treatment, often mandatory drug treatment ordered by a judge, who knew nothing about what “treatment” was being offered.

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The counselors were not always the best people to work with and many had drug and alcohol issues they were recovering from, themselves.  They had been clean and sober for a required time but often were not old enough to have really made progress in their own drug treatment to offer someone else who paid for services, or who had their drug treatment paid for by “the system” somehow.  Many counselors were just not bright enough to really understand what clients were going through, being ordered into treatment, but yet not wanting the treatment.  They wanted to stay out of jail, but often would cheat the system, often covering up for having used by coming up with an excuse for why they were absent, or rushing out of the building saying they forgot they were to stay to get urine tested.

It is hard to keep track of all the clients we treated.  So many needed more quality time with a trained and mature counselor than what they got.  The counselors I worked with were very unfriendly and seemed to stick together in clicks, never being supportive in making time to discuss clients or ask how the other counselors were doing.  It seemed they did not care; it seemed like they were busy making themselves important to their clients and caring more about the status they were held in by clients and managers, but were not the real people I would expect to work with in a treatment facility.

When I had to go into treatment in my Master’s degree program, I was required to spend at least 40 hours receiving counseling by a licensed therapist so that I would know what it was like to be in treatment.  It was to better serve my clients.  I would have a better understanding about what that therapeutic relationship was like and what questions it brought to me about what my goals would be, how I would work with another person, how I would know when my goals were met, and what I wanted in my therapy treatment.  It brought up lots of questions in the relationship alone for me, and so I know that when a client has a counselor, there should be a special relationship built, and that takes time, trust and learning on both sides.  How well the counselors were growing in their own personal growth was unknown.  How many stayed stuck in their sophomoric ways?  How many cared enough to really be true to the growth that they had, needed or wanted?

I have a lot of things to say in my reflections about the work I have done.  I feel I did not do well for clients, in that I did not have a Christian perspective then, at least for the majority of the time I spent working in mental health and drug treatment.  I feel a loss of what could have been done for my clients, had I known Christ.

Related:  Working In Chemical Dependency: Unprofessional Coworkers – Part 1

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