Addictions – Can counselling help?
There is a significant debate between Counsellors both between themselves and with recovering addicts on whether counselling is appropriate or helpful to those with addictions.
Addicts who are struggling to conquer their cycle explain that counsellors simply offer once a week contact which is useless to them in the midst of their addiction. Some counsellors will talk about their nervousness in treating the addicted in case the addiction gets in the way of the therapy.
Addictions, it seems to me as a Counsellor, are a form of defence. In others defences take the form of anger, work, mask wearing or other ways of keeping pain at bay.
If we go back to the theoretical basics of counselling the starting point is always going to be the point of birth or, I would argue the point of conception. What was the experience of that embryo, baby and developing life?
Our development is responsive, that is to say, we are born with a fear based assumption as a baby. We express that fear and need and expect a helpful response. As time goes on that expectation becomes based upon experience and our reaction/response to that experience. If we experience an unhelpful response or abuse then we find ways of enabling ourselves to cope. In later life coping may be found in the highs of substance, alcohol and sexual activity.
Addictions and counselling
So can counselling help the addicted to resist their addiction (acknowledging that the chemical addiction may always exist)? If we accept the assumption that addictions arise because of mental disturbance then the answer has to be a resounding ‘yes’. The objective of counselling is to help clients to experience and express feelings accurately. Where clients have suffered in early life this may take some time and may be overwhelming. However, where a greater internal peace can be achieved by acknowledging and facing up to the pain that was experienced and then denied to awareness the source of the drive to the addiction can be helpful in resisting the urge to self medicate.