Last Updated on March 13, 2016 by Morris Green
The substance abuse counselor is a cornerstone of success for clients in recovery. They provided a foundation of support and understanding, but their role involves so much more than listening. Addiction counseling is never black and white. It evolves to fit each unique client, and substance abuse counselors make a visible difference in five irreplaceable ways.
#1: Creating Agents of Change
Addiction counseling is designed to enact change. The client must become an agent of change by taking responsibility for and working through their addiction. Counselors work to transform their clients into agents of change through encouragement, support, and treatment.
#2: Proposing Goals and Objectives
Change cannot occur without a plan. One of the major goals of addiction counseling is to help the client set, achieve, and maintain goals. A counselor works to assist their client in two major goal oriented ways:
- Achieving and maintaining abstinence from addictive substances.
- Recovering from and setting goals to repair the damage addiction has caused in their life.
#3: Initiating Self Discovery
Substance abuse counselors are experts of theoretical rationale and mechanisms of action. In other words, they are experts at helping their client recognize the existence of a problem as well as the irrational thinking associated with it.
A counselor’s impact stretches far beyond counseling sessions. They work to prepare their client for a life free of addiction, which involves helping the client develop necessary psychosocial skills. The path of self-discovery and self-growth is one of the most powerful and impactful tools at a counselor’s disposal.
#4: Personal Experience
According to DrugAbuse.gov, many substance abuse counselors are either in recovery (and have been for 5+ years) or have had a family member who experienced addiction. They have first hand, often intimate, knowledge of addiction. Personal experience is another way counselors make a major difference.
The ability to empathize and relate to a patient cannot be overstated. It paves the way for a strong professional relationship, and it provides a unique and trusted support.
Counselors who have not personally felt addiction still have strong personal experience to offer. They build up an arsenal of firsthand knowledge that benefits every client now and in the future as they spend years working with numerous and diverse clientele.
#5: A Lifelong Friend
The best substance abuse and behavioral counselors do not see their clients as statistics equating to their next paycheck. They see people; people in need of help. Driven by passion and the want to make a difference, counselors dedicate their careers—often their very lives—to becoming a lifelong support to those who choose to fight addiction.
The professional relationship between a client and a counselor is unique and special. It aids the client today, prepares them for tomorrow, and stands forever as a safe harbor from the storm.
In coming blogs, we will discuss how substance abuse counselors operate, the values they uphold, and dig deep into why this role is absolutely vital in every community. Be sure to follow us if you are interested in becoming a counselor, seeking to improve your counseling approaches, or in need of a support network specifically for substance abuse professionals!