When you’re faced with the challenge of counseling a client who is recovering from substance abuse addiction and simultaneously suffering from low self-esteem, you may feel more compassion for them knowing that they are suffering a double whammy. In fact, it’s not unlike the additional hit of depression during addiction recovery.
Although you know that you’ve got your work cut out for you, you also know this isn’t your first rodeo. You’ve got this! Right?
The Recognizable Signs of Low Self-Esteem
You’re already familiar with the signs; negative thoughts about themselves and never quite finding the satisfaction of contentment. They begin to talk about how stupid they feel, and they can never do anything right. They constantly take, even self-create and reflect, blame for every negative thing that happens in their life.
Since low self-esteem stems from childhood, they’ve probably never had an opportunity in adult life to feel happy and content. They may have struggled with depression and becoming a magnet to drug and alcohol abuse.
Now, you know that it’s your job to help them move toward a positive, more productive lifestyle that will eventually lead to higher self-esteem. The process might be a bit of a struggle for them, along with a lot of time and effort on their part, but if you ease into it with a positive approach that will build their trust in you, the end results will be worth the challenge.
What You Can do as a Counselor
When a person hears the word counselor, the first thing they think of is the movies. Someone lays on a couch talking to the ceiling while a person in a chair behind them jots down who knows what on a clipboard.
If they’re already suffering from low self-esteem, the last thing you want them to believe is that they’re “crazy.” Invite your client into a relaxing atmosphere that will make them feel comfortable.
Make yourself visible, lend them a full listening ear and eye contact. If you spend the entire time jotting everything down, they’re going to begin to wonder what negative things you’re writing about them.
While listening to them talk negatively about themselves, teach them how to turn the negatives into positive thoughts. For example, while they’re emphasizing all the things they can’t do, turn the conversation into all the things they can do.
According to PsychCentral, it’s important to surround a person with low self-esteem by people who celebrate strengths, not weaknesses. Offer a solution to finding a positive group of friends who will help them move in a more optimistic direction. Introduce them to recovery groups and community resources.
Let them know that they are not always the reason why Bob or Jane had a bad day. They need to know that they are not always to blame. They have probably heard too many times how everything wrong was their fault until they became convinced that it’s true.
While these are only a few ways to help with the counseling process, they assure you will begin to move in the right direction.