Accepting help from a trained counselor is an essential part of your recovery journey, yet many people resist this step. If you feel resistance toward working with a professional counselor, understanding their role in your recovery might help. Let’s go over the reasons why drug counseling is so necessary so that you might feel more open to accepting the help.
Outside motivation helps you stay on track
Drug counseling can take two forms: group work or one-on-one sessions. In group counseling, a counselor will facilitate a gathering of individuals who are all on the journey to recovery. The counselor leads the group in discussions that serve to bond them together. The counselor also helps to keep the conversation safe and productive.
The peer-to-peer relationships that develop during these group sessions, under the guidance of a counselor, motivate individuals to stay on track with the program. It can be beneficial, and very motivating, to see that other people have struggled with the same issues and that you are not on the journey all by yourself.
The second kind of drug counseling comes in the form of one-on-one sessions. These sessions are entirely focused on you, the client. Your counselor will work with you to understand your patterns of substance abuse and help you develop new patterns.
The one-on-one model gives you accountability. When you know that you are going to meet with a counselor regularly, you have an increased motivation to follow your intention to stay clean. You know that you’ll be discussing your actions with your counselor, and this accountability helps to motivate you to make positive choices.
Reflect on the changes you are making
Working with a counselor is important because it gives you the opportunity to reflect on the phases of your journey as you move through them. Before you even begin treatment, your counselor will ask you questions about your history. These questions automatically give you time for self-reflection.
As you change your life by abstaining from drugs and alcohol, you will start to see changes occurring in your body and mood. It is helpful to have designated time set aside to reflect on these changes. Reflection is an integral part of healing.
Without self-reflection, positive changes might not be acknowledged, or you might not learn from your mistakes. With self-reflection, you can notice when something goes right so that you can do it again. You can also talk through situations that were hard or reflect on things that aren’t going well so that you can overcome them.
If you have ever kept a journal, you know how illuminating self-reflection can be. A counselor is like a live journal page. He or she is there to help you learn about yourself. They are not there to judge you, and they are bound by a code of ethics to keep what you say private.
This means that you are free to speak your emotions out loud, in a safe environment, possibly for the first time. This is a powerful practice and can help you feel less isolated if you are experiencing a state of worry, fear, depression, loss or anxiety. It helps to share the burden.
Receive support when you feel weak
Sometimes when you are going through a significant change in your life, you may have moments of weakness. This is natural for everyone, but with the help of a counselor, it doesn’t have to mean a setback in your recovery. Get support from a trained counselor during these moments of weakness, so that you don’t feel overwhelmed and make bad choices.
How do counselors provide support? Often, this comes in the form of cognitive behavioral therapy. Psychiatrists who offer counseling services have been trained to work with all aspects of a person’s psyche. This means that even if you don’t exactly know what is going on in your mind, a trained psychologist can help you understand your thoughts, behaviors, and actions, and how they are related.
What’s more, the psychologist can help you modify your thoughts so that the emotions you experience and the outward behaviors that you engage in are different than before. Counselors provide support through insights into what you are going through. They also could offer support by prescribing a medication that can address the symptoms that you are experiencing.
Get practical next steps from someone with experience
Drug counselors have experience working with rehabilitation. Even if you are making the shift to clean living for the first time, your counselor has seen and worked with people in your position many times. This past knowledge allows them to help you know what to expect next.
Your counselor will guide you through the next steps so that you won’t feel overwhelmed or that you’re going it alone. Their experience will be very helpful if you become confused, lost, or afraid of your new lifestyle.
For example, some recovering alcoholics find it challenging to join in on holiday celebrations, post-treatment. A counselor who has worked with many recovering alcoholics will have tools and resources to offer to clients who are experiencing this challenge.
It might be tempting to think that you can handle recovery on your own. You may feel motivated and capable of self-reflection. You might even have a support network in place. But if the people in your life who are trying to help you get clean are not trained drug counselors, they might not know what kind of support you need.
Because a qualified counselor specializes in substance abuse and recovery, they know the ups and downs that you will face on the path, before you do. This can be extremely beneficial because by understanding what your body and mind are going through, the counselor will be able to provide practical, timely advice.
Drug counseling is vital to your overall recovery. A counselor can guide you through an initial period of detox, help you reflect on major life changes, and help you map out a route to clean living after your stay. No one should feel that they have to overcome addiction alone. A counselor provides support, knowledge, and practical next steps, all of which will help you continue to move forward.
Erica Franco Mortimer, MA, LPC, LCADC
Founder and CEO
Center for Healing
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.