Written By:Amber Hollingsworth,LPC
When it comes to compulsive behaviors (addiction, alcoholism, self harm, gambling, etc…), regular talk therapy isn’t going to cut it! When you’re dealing with compulsivity, you can talk about it all day long, you can analyze why its happening, you can have insight into the behavior, you can express your feelings about it, BUT GUESS WHAT???
None of these things will make the compulsive behavior stop. If you want to stop an addiction, your gonna need a lot more action and direction. When you go to counseling school, they teach you to be neutral, listen, reflect, and avoid giving advice! I guess that makes us MEGA RULE BREAKERS! We pretty much do the opposite of all of those things.
The families we treat are in crisis, and they are craving some direction. I had a client in my office yesterday, and she was telling me about a recent marriage session she had at another practice. She said “it was like I was having a heart attack, and he was talking to me about diet and exercise”. Of course our clients need to be listened to, validated, and understood! But when you are drowning, you don’t care if others understand you… You want someone to throw you a life preserver!
What we do is SCARY and MESSY, so many other clinicians are too scared to get their hands dirty. They would rather play it safe. On a lot of levels I get it, but we are talking about saving not just the lives of individuals but the lives of ENTIRE FAMILY SYSTEMS.
Every clinician at Hope For Families is a Licensed Professional Counselor, and all have training in mental health and substance abuse. We have purposefully structured our process to give families what they actually need!
When someone in a family is struggling with active addiction, their loved ones are desperate for some help. Often they drag them from counselor to counselor and psychiatrist to psychiatrist just trying to find anything that will help. Many of these counselors and psychiatrists are very good, but the system just isn’t set up to handle this big a problem.
We need all the information to be able to provide good treatment!
Think about it…. How helpful is it going to be to send an addicted person to traditional talk therapy (especially if they don’t think they have a problem)? Sure they might open up about feelings and may even build a good relationship, but the problem lies in the fact the clinician has an obligation to their client. They have to protect their confidentiality, align with their client, and build trust. Most clinicians are very leery of interactions with their clients family members, because it puts them in a conflict of interest situation. You see, most of the time family members treat the counselor like they are the “principal or probation officer”. They may call or email the counselor when the individual “misbehaves”. This causes a problem for the counselor, because they get trapped between what the family wants, and what the client wants. In the end, they have to side with their client.
This happened to me for years! I finally decided the family also had to come to counseling. But then, I realized I would often get caught in the middle of the family and the client. Eventually, I wised up and realized I needed a team to pull it off, and that’s how Hope For Families was born.
This is the very reason we have developed the Hope For Families treatment model. We require both the individual and their family attend.
Wait…. Don’t freak out! We don’t make you talk all in the same room. We know that would only result in one of two things.
1. No one tell what is really happening, because they don’t want to cause a fight in front of the counselor. or
2. They do tell what’s happening, and everybody leaves in more conflict than when they came in.
We handle this by assigning each individual their own counselor (sometimes referred to as attorneys). This way the treatment team gets all the necessary information to actually help, but each individual also gets confidentiality, and their own advocate.