We want to be acknowledged, heard, understood.
Most of all we want to be listened to.
We say we want advice on getting help with a drug or alcohol problem, but…do we really? We all have a strong, core need to be heard and understood. We ask without words: “Do you get me?” Sometimes we talk with our eyes, our expression, our tone of voice. Words are one way of being known. What is most important is the acknowledgement of who we are, or that we’re even here. We draw attention to ourselves. It’s a way of asking for help.
We want to be cared for.
We often care for others. Depending on our role in the family, we either take care of getting good grades, the children, the parents, the house, the mortgage, the business or all of the above. It can be exhausting to give all the time. It might be difficult to admit we need to be cared for; that we need help, but there it is. People are taught that it’s weak to ask for help. I disagree. It is weak to starve yourself when nourishment is a phone call away. Alcohol and drugs may be telling you “Don’t call!” You can quit anytime you want to. “They will try to separate you from the only friend you have in the world” says the voice of fear. Actually the alcohol and drugs are lying to you. Don’t believe me? Have you ever met an old person who said “I wish I spent more time, money and effort on drinking and drugging?
The therapeutic relationship
Be curious about good relationships. Ask someone who had a long talk with a good friend or what they remember about their favorite teacher or mentor. They may not remember what the other person said exactly but they know if they felt loved.
Should I be afraid to use the word love in a counseling relationship? I’m not talking about a sexual relationship but an intimacy of unconditional acceptance. No judgment. No blame. Only empathy, bonding, a type of kinship.
Research says the type of therapy applied to the situation is not nearly as important to success as the relationship being built. In other words most any “brand” of therapy will work if there is a trusting relationship. A therapist is someone who understands you and cares for you…anyway. No matter what you have said or done, or not said or didn’t do. It’s a special kind of relationship. No strings. No need to lie, or cover up who you are, because your inner beauty is known, seen, heard . NO conditions. NO judgement. I think of a therapist as someone who can help you live up to your values. A drug and alcohol counselor is someone who sees your goodness and helps to bring that out in you. I see myself as your biggest fan.
So, next time you are looking for a drug or alcohol counselor or a therapist who gets you, interview them.
See if they are a good listener. Check to see if this is someone you can connect with.