A counselor’s quest for self-improvement truly never ends. The best counselors will likely agree that their job is never done and they will certainly never know everything about addiction counseling. This humility and self-understanding is extremely important when it comes to realizing the importance and the need of continuing education and continuing self-development.
Over the course of years and decades working with clients of all kinds, an addiction counselor is subjected to emotional ups and downs – some so significant that only another counselor may be able to help them make sense of it. After all, counselors are human too. As a result of these emotional roller coasters, some counselors can easily become hardened to the client’s needs. They may begin to force their own views and opinions on the client’s treatment plan, disregarding the need for self-direction by the client.
This concept of “counselor knows best” is not one that is generally subscribed to in the industry and can be very detrimental to both counselor and client as they progress through their treatment program. Indeed, a client-focused counselor understands that they have limitations and sometimes need help (from peers or supervisors) in order to overcome those shortcomings. The counselor must understand that recovery is client centric and allows for the client to participate – and indeed take a leading role – in their recovery and treatment plan.
A great counselor continues to improve themselves both within the organization, through continuing education, and on a personal basis when no-one is looking. We must understand that there’s no shame in getting help and the more context that we have in our daily work, the more likely we are to make the correct decisions when a new or different challenge comes our way. To be sure, addiction counseling is not an easy job and it requires a great deal of tenacity as well as compassion, often at the same time. Years of training and never-ending learning are a must to be successful in keeping an open mind, being honest with ourselves and ensuring that our clients receive the very best care that we have to offer.
After all, we are their guides through the long and difficult process of recovering from substance abuse and addiction.