Posted on December 15, 2010, under Anti Depressants-Sleeping Aid.
ALCOHOL COUNSELING: COUNSELORS WITH TWO HATSMany of the workers in the alcohol field are themselves recovering alcoholics. Long before national attention was focused on alcoholism, private rehabilitation centers were operated, often staffed by sober alcoholics. In the evolutionary process of recovery, many alcoholics find themselves working in many capacities, in many different types of facilities. We must say here that we do not believe that simply being a recovering alcoholic qualifies one to be a counselor. There is more to it than that. That view ignores the skill and special knowledge that many alcoholics working in the field have gained, on the job, and often without benefit of any formal training. They have had a harder row to hoe and deserve a lot of respect for sticking to it.Being a recovering alcoholic has some advantages for a counselor but also some clear disadvantages. Being a counselor may at times be the most confusing for the recovering alcoholic who is also in AA. Doing AA Twelfth Step work and calling it counseling won’t do, from the profession’s or AA’s point of view. Twelfth Step work is voluntary and has no business being used for bread earning. AA’s traditions are clearly against this. AA is not opposed to its members working in the field of alcoholism, if they are qualified to do so. If you are an AA member and also an alcohol counselor, it is important to keep the dividing line in plain sight. The trade calls it “wearing two hats.” There are some good AA pamphlets on the subject, and the AA monthly magazine, The Grapevine, publishes articles for two-hatters from time to time. A book, The Para-Professional in the Treatment of Alcoholism, by Staub and Kent, covers a lot of territory on two-hatting very well.A particular bind for two-hat counselors comes if attending AA becomes tied to their jobs more than their own sobriety. They might easily find themselves sustaining clients at meetings and not being there for themselves. A way to avoid this is to find a meeting you can attend where you are less likely to see clients. It is easy for both you and the clients to confuse AA with the other therapy. The client benefits from a clear distinction as much, if not more, than you. There is always the difficulty of keeping your priorities in order. You cannot counsel if you are drinking yourself. So, whatever you do to keep sober, whether it includes AA or not, keep doing it. Again, when so many people out there seem to need you, it is very difficult to keep from overextending. A recovering alcoholic simply cannot afford this. (If this description fits you, stop reading right now. Choose one thing to scratch off your schedule.) It is always easy to justify skimping on your own sober regimen because “I’m working with alcoholics all the time.” Retire that excuse. Experience has shown it to be a counselor killer.Another real problem is the temptation to discuss your job at AA meetings or discuss clients with other members. The AAs don’t need to be bored by you any more than by a doctor member describing the surgical removal of a gallbladder. Discussing your clients, even with another AA member, is a serious breach of confidentiality. This will be particularly hard, especially when a really concerned AA member asks you point-blank about someone. The other side of the coin is keeping the confidences gained at AA and not reporting to coworkers about what transpired with clients at an AA meeting. Hopefully, your nonalcoholic coworkers will not slip up and put you in a bind by asking. It is probably okay to talk with your AA sponsor about your job if it is giving you fits. However, it is important to stick with you, and leave out work details and/or details about clients.Watch out if feelings of superiority creep in toward other “plain” AA members or nonalcoholic colleagues.-Recovery from alcoholism does not accord you magical insights. On the other hand, being a nonalcoholic is not a guaranteed route to knowing what is going on, either. Keep your perspective as much as you’re able. After all, you are all in the same boat, with different oars. To quote an unknown source: “It’s amazing how much can be accomplished if no one cares who gets the credit.”*187\331\2*