Paul Cockayne – 07791 970406 – firstname.lastname@example.org
This blog is intended to give you a flavour of how I work as a counsellor. You can find more information about me by clicking one of the links above.
My work has brought me into contact with different sorts of addiction – primarily alcohol, drugs and smoking – but also sexual addictions, such as compulsive use of the internet for pornography.
Quite what constitutes an addiction is open to debate, but happily for me as a counsellor I do not need to work with a precise medical definition. If a client finds themself in a repeating pattern of behaviour that they want to change, but find difficult to change, then it may well be helpful to think of that behaviour as an addiction. This is particularly true if the behaviour interferes with day-to-day life, whether it is a common addiction like smoking or something that often might not be seen as an addiction, such as shopping, or golf, or eating chocolate.
There are commonalities in dealing with these addictive behaviours, and my style is to work with addiction in two “strands”. The first is to look at the roots of the behaviour, to try to understand why my client is attracted to their particular sort of addiction, and what they get out of it – what emotions are they dealing with, what beliefs pull them towards their chosen addiction? The second strand is much more about the present and the future, focussing on techniques to help the client to change their behaviour, to be able to say “no” the next time an opportunity to get a hit presents itself.
So working with addiction is partly about understanding what is happening, and partly about taking practical steps to change. It seems that different people need a different mix of these two strands. For some, understanding their addiction is a big step towards changing their behaviour. Others might say “OK, I understand why I keep doing this, but that doesn’t stop me wanting to do it again”. For these people, focussing our work on practical steps towards change can be the most helpful thing.
If you are living with an addict you can help them to quit, but it is important to do this on their terms. If you pour the alcohol down the sink without their blessing, it will quite likely drive a wedge between you – you can be seen as one of the enemy. The addict needs to take responsibility for quitting, and part of that responsibility is to ask for appropriate help. There may be a number of diffent ways you can help, but it’s best if the addict identifies what these are, rather than you guessing, or trying to make decisions for them.
It can also be helpful for clients to access a support group such as Alcoholics Anonymous – and specific support groups also exist for other addictions. Many of these groups follow the same 12-step programme as Alcoholics Anonymous, while some have different approaches. A lot of people find the group environment very supportive; it is a relief to find that they are not alone, and good to hear stories from others who have grappled with similar issues. Others find an individual approach more helpful; they do not like to feel that their problem is being generalised; they find that spending time with other addicts can be demotivating. Either way, counselling can help by providing a safe environment for the addict to discuss their particular issues and reflect on their progress.