Addiction Counseling and addiction therapy is key to providing individuals with drug and alcohol abuse coping mechanisms to use as they progress through a program. However, counseling isn’t just about providing these tools; it’s about discovering the root of where the abuse stems from whether it be stress, trauma, abuse, or genetic/environmental factors. Treatment for recovery begins with a focus on physical and mental change, one that the patient needs to be completely devoted to in order to be successful.

There are multitudes of therapy practices for patients with substance abuse, and every counselor or facility will approach them in different ways. Finding a counselor that not only provides the help a patient requires, but also creates a strong atmosphere of trust and understanding is no easy feat. But it can be done. Here are four things that great addiction counselors never do:

1. Never violate your privacy
Healthcare systems and their providers are bound by a code of ethics and legislative acts that protect patients and their information from reaching public forums. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is the main legislation that protects patients from having their identity and personal information released past clinical barriers. HIPAA will protect patient information including paper records, electronic files, and even therapy sessions.

In certain cases, rehab clinics or other medical facilities will have an additional confidentiality agreement that both staff and patients review before accepting for either employment or services. This protects the facility and the patients if anyone were to violate that agreement, leading to legal action.

2. Never talk about their own drug alcohol use/abuse
There has been much debate about addiction counselors who disclose their own past with substance abuse. Some sides encourage the conversation, while others dissuade the discussion completely. It’s usually best for counselors or therapists to be blank pages or offer minimal disclosure about their personal lives.

While it is understandable that certain groups of patients could benefit from a level of self-disclosure from a counselor, with others it may not. It’s situational at best because professionals want to connect on some level with their patients, but not enough that the patient sees them as more of a friend than as someone who is trying to help them overcome an addiction.

3. Never connect with you on social media
There is a fine line between being professional and being unprofessional, and connecting with patients on social media crosses the line. As mentioned earlier, there needs to be a certain level of transparency when it comes to patients. However, providing access to personal information, whether it be pictures or family members, is never a good idea.

Addiction counselors are not there to be a friend; they are there to help and guide patients through the program established by the rehabilitation facility. Connecting on social media opens a door into a counselor’s private life and it’s best to maintain that extra boundary.

4. Never force spirituality on you but rather lead you to make your own discoveries
Through treatment, many patients will turn to a previous or new faith, or even spiritual guidance to help them through the difficult recovery process. It’s important that patients decide to use their spirituality or their faith on their own—and a good counselor will let that happen naturally. Pressuring patients into discovering a new faith is dangerous and unethical.
Patients going through treatment need to develop their own measures for processing trauma from their past and facing aspects of their addiction that are painful. If they turn to faith or spirituality on their own, it provides them with a personal boost that belief in a higher power, no matter what that may be, will help them get through anything.

If you have any questions or want to get started on the path to sobriety, please call us at Center For Healing 888–500–9279.

Erica Franco Mortimer, MA, LPC, LCADC
Founder and CEO
Center for Healing
Evan Berk Erica is a licensed therapist with over twenty-years experience in mental health. Erica offers practical and straight forward advice to those struggling with addiction and their families. Having deep insight and understanding of addiction, Erica is able to offer guidance to those looking to regain control of their lives.

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