As patients, we might not realize why empathy is important in addiction counseling and sympathy isn’t. An effective counselor would understand that using those two words interchangeably doesn’t come without consequence. The former describes an effective counselor while the latter could describe your neighbour or the man behind the bar!
Empathy vs. Sympathy
According to this study on professional counselors, a counselor who will effectively treat their patients needs to be empathetic.S ympathy, on the other hand, is one of the least important traits your counselor would need.
Other Qualities in an Effective Addiction Counselor
Besides showing empathy, your counselor should have much more to fall back upon than certification and a license. If the treatment is to be effective, then your counselor needs to have patience. An effective counselor knows that the road to recover isn’t an easy one. It would take their patients much time and considerable effort to get addiction off their backs. Their goal should be to be there with you throughout the process, including the time when you finally get there!
Effective counselors also know the importance of trust. A person battling an addiction won’t easily put their trust in just anyone. The cousnelor would have to work with them in order to establish trust. Only then would the patient even think about opening up to their counselors!
Principles of Addiction Counselling
Addiction counseling is based on different treatment principles. If a counselor is to be effective, they must go along with those principles. One of these principles is discussed in detail below: no single treatment is going to be effective for everyone.
Another principle involves the counselor being available to provide treatment to their patients regularly. If they can’t be there when there patients needs them the most, then the process might take much longer.
Lastly, if addiction counseling is to be effective, then the counselor should work with the patient to understand the degree of complexity of the disorder. If they know how far they have to go, it could give the patients some much needed hope.
What Worked for One Might Not Work for the Other
Different kinds of addiction counseling are offered at different facilities. Some of them have 12-step addiction programs to help the patients. Others will focus on family counseling sessions believing the support of the loved ones can strengthen a patient’s resolve. An effective counselor would know that each patient is going to be different.
The addiction in most patients lies nettled in different problems. The problems will be specific for each patient, which is why so should the treatment. Some patients would fare better in group counseling while others will progress faster individually. F or some people, cognitive behaviour therpay would do the trick. For others the solution might lie in dialectical behavioural therapy. The effective counselor would know which method would work best and use that to get to the root of the addiction in their patients.
Do you have an effective addiction counselor working with you? What makes them so effective? Let us know in the comments section below!