When the addictions counselor is addicted.

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Being an addiction counselor in recovery can be very beneficial when it comes to certain aspects of counseling. As the saying goes and please excuse my language, “you can’t bullshit a bullshitter.” A counselor who is in recovery themselves is usually wise to the games. Addicts are very manipulative, and if one has been manipulative in their life, they are likely to see when they are being manipulated. There are also risks involved in an addict in recovery being a recovery counselor.

The most disastrous outcome of a counselor in recovery is the counselor having a relapse. “To prevent relapse or dysfunctional behavior in the counselor, each counselor must develop an individualized approach as well as a commitment to self-care”. If a counselor has a relapse, it could cause them to be terminated from their job, they may need to seek treatment, and contact the licensing board if they are licensed. (Miller, G., 2014).

Another risk a counselor in recovery face is dual relationships. It is possible for the counselor and client may attend the same self-help group. “Issues of dual relationships may emerge around self-help meeting attendance, sponsorship, or general recovery support. As Doyle (1997) points out, risks exist when client and counselor attend the same self-help group in terms of anonymity (for the counselor) and confidentiality (for the client)”.

For someone in recovery to become a counselor, they should have a minimum of one to two years of clean time. The counselor in recovery must be very aware that every addict has their own path to recovery. Even if they see similarities with themselves and a client, that does not mean what worked for them will work with the client. They must be able to see the client as an individual. (Miller, G., 2014

Countertransference can also be a potential issue with the counselor in recovery. They must be aware that this is a risk and do whatever it takes to avoid this problem. Countertransference is not limited to only the counselor in recovery. If the counselor is not in recovery but has dealt with a close friend or family member who has battled addiction, they could do the same thing.

One of two differences between addiction counseling and general mental health counseling is the amount of resistance the counselor may face. Unfortunately, in addiction counseling, people are mandated by an outside entity to attend treatment. They may not believe they have a problem with drugs or alcohol. Another difference between addiction counseling and general mental counseling is that regular drug screenings are required.

All in all, regarding the question “Does personal history of addiction and treatment make counselors more effective?” the answer would be, they can be. There is no absolute answer. There are pros and cons to whether a counselor in recovery would be more effective. It is safe to assume that formal education and life experience may bring someone more understanding of an addict and therefore make them more effective. It is also safe to say that when a counselor is experiencing difficulty with their own life or addiction that a best practice is to step back for a while and “get it together” before the counselor goes at it again. It is after all important for counselors to be in a healthy place before they commit to helping someone else get through a difficult time.

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Patty

I love life and people. I am a daughter, mother, and a grandmother.

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