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Twin Rivers in South Africa


Self-Awareness: Addiction Recovery Article by Chris Sharpe

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Self-Awareness by Chris SharpeThe Eclectic Practice of Addiction Counselling:

The eclectic practice of addiction counselling whether carried out with individuals or within a group context, should bring with it many important phases of the recovery process. These will include empathy and the development of trust. Counselling is also a way of supporting the development of goals and linking them to action. Identifying and maintaining the need for change is also a priority, this can be facilitated primarily by promoting self-awareness. In his list of Therapeutic Principles, Irvin Yallom stated that; “… self-understanding refers to the achievement of greater levels of insight into the genesis of one's problems and the unconscious motivations that underlie one's behaviour.” During the early process of recovery from active addiction, self- understanding, self-assessment or put more simply; realising the ability to become self-aware, can be a sure way to discovering unconscious, positive change.

When treated professionally, the cathartic challenge of group therapy, specifically in the treatment centre will aid the process of promoting a new found awareness in the recovering addict enabling them to discover the ability to take a good look at themselves and their lives and discover just what is working for them and what isn't. To become involved in the cohesive process of group therapy and sharing with others who have a common goal promotes a healthy awareness of one self, while aiding the discovery that like everyone else, addicts are fallible human beings who possess both strengths and weaknesses. If managed well, this major cornerstone of recovery will most likely be accompanied by the realisation that strengths and weaknesses can be built on or overcome as the case may be. In short, the therapeutic process of rehabilitation when shared with other recovering addict’s plants the seed of change in the individual’s conscious mind and inspires the drive and motivation to do things differently.

At this stage the role of the treatment centre becomes crucial in implementing what Yallom calls the genesis; and it is just that. The creation of a new exciting and challenging prospect of behavioural change occurs within the client. Once he or she has begun to develop empathy and trust within the relationship, a motivational addiction counsellor should use this opportunity to enable the individual to identify the necessary skills and strategies needed to deal with and overcome problems where alcohol or drugs would once have been otherwise employed to numb. From this new and challenging way of doing things, realistic and achievable goals will emerge. Also a secondary but equally important function also matures, by linking the goals to action helps the client to begin to take a positive control of their affairs where loss of control was once a primary obstruction to recovery and the maintenance of continued sobriety.

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