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Client Family and Community Relationships

One of the most interesting and frankly important classes we offer is Client, Family and Community Education. It may only be a 15 hour course, but it gets to the crux of the environmental issues that may impact addiction, recovery and relapse. Oftentimes, legitimate use leads to abuse which ends in addiction. Often, during this time, families and indeed communities stand by, either unaware of the problem or unsure as to how to handle it.

As counselors we have to gain perspective of the problem we are facing. A client is usually not willing to immediately discuss their deep-rooted problems.  Further complicating the matter, the family may not feel comfortable admitting their role in the problem. It is not uncommon for clients, families and counselors to interpret the same situation very differently.

The role of the family is significant. Childhood problems such as abuse, violent parents or family members abusing substances can lead the younger generation to follow in their footsteps. It is hard to quantify the damage that can be done to a young mind by the family around them – the ultimate effects however are clear. Teaching prevention skills is an important part of a counselor’s community service. For those that are already affected by the disease of addiction, educating families on how to deal with outbursts, violence and unknown situations can spur them to help an addict more quickly. Even discussing the need for intervention or crisis management can compel the family to seek help sooner.

The communities around us, from PTOs to local governments are also at the front line of the war against substance abuse. Communities are often unaware of the abuse problem either because traditionally there never was an issue, or they want to avoid discussing a touchy subject. Either way, counselors have the opportunity to create an environment in which open discussion and proactive substance abuse prevention can in turn foster a culture of responsible use and not abuse.

The people around us every day – those in our families and communities – have the biggest effect on our youth and have the opportunity to steer them away from addiction. They do however need guidance, which is an invaluable skill that a counselor can provide.