Getting the right fit is essential in many areas of our lives. We won’t even tolerate loose socks, at least not for long! Granted, it may be a simplistic example; even so it’s an appropriate analogy: You won’t wear a pair of loose socks to work, which may make you look un-professional. You probably would throw them away immediately. The same is true for alcoholics who are considering the best treatment possible for their problems. They won’t tolerate a therapist who doesn’t match with their requirements. Without it, they won’t pursue their treatment goals or stay in treatment and some may decide to cancel the treatment. Understandably, finding the right therapist is essential.
There are many things to consider when seeking for a good fit between client and therapist. Perhaps the most essential is the client’s current medical status, which includes mental health. Long-term, addicted drinkers may need intensive medical supervision to allow them withdraw safely and effectively. A client may also need to be examined for numerous physical issues that can arise from prolonged use of alcohol, and also evaluation for coincidental mental health problems, for example depression. Even people who meet the “moderate” definition (who drink less than 15 times a week) should get a physical check-up before continuing with treatment to rule out physiological issues. All of these variables may affect a client’s ability to get involved in any treatment adequately. Health professionals must also be able to identify accurately the reasons of alcohol addictions. Many primary care experts also ask patients about drug usages.
For people with coincidental mental health problems, a good fit is critical. Most health professionals agree that they need to treat and evaluate both problems simultaneously, and you may find some professionals who have expertise in both fields. A patient who suffers mental health disorders tend to have coincidental problems along with the alcohol addiction. Severe depression is a common reason for people turn to drug and alcohol. Worse, alcohol acts as a depressant for the central nervous system, which will make depression gets worse. Additionally, alcohol disturbs normal sleep. Although you may fall asleep easily when drunk, drinkers have disrupted sleep stages, causing them to have impaired sleep pattern. It contributes not only to bad depression but also manic depression, and can aggravate other physiological issues. Clearly, mental health problems are a major factor you should consider when looking for a therapist, make sure your therapist can deal with it.
After considering physical and mental condition when looking for a therapist, it’s also essential to know more about the therapist. You’ll want to assess his treatment style. Does the therapist tend to be collaborative or confrontational? Historically, many alcohol and substance treatments were confrontational in nature, they urged clients to “own your stuff,” or “get real” and some therapists might act disparaging to the client and verbally abusive. More modern methods have shown the importance and effectiveness of collaborative approach, which will bring positive results for the client. Those methods usually concentrate on helping clients by using certain guided questioning (sometimes called as Socratic questioning due to its similarities with Socrates’ teaching method). These questions will try to understand the effect of alcohol on patient’s life and others’, and to determine, what is their opinion about it?
They may want to know more about their addiction pattern, whether alcohol addiction is a disease, whether it is genetically inevitable and if it is caused by a genetic factor, can it be treated? There are many other questions and the answers may affect how health professionals treat their clients.
These are common factors to consider:
• Religious affiliation
• Sexual orientation
Patients can study these factors with more depth. Age and gender issues are really basic and commonsensical. The dynamics of gender are well documented in many research literatures and obviously have a big impact on most therapeutic relationships. Remember, without reliable therapeutic relationship, nothing or at least, not much gets done. You may believe that certain clients could be better off choosing a therapist of a specific gender, this issue is often not as important as finding a competent therapist with whom clients can make an effective connection.
Age is also an important issue. If a client is in adolescence years, it will be essential to find professionals who understand, specialize in, and have experience in caring for adolescents. Adolescents are developing people and therefore are undergoing critical physical, emotional, and cognitive developmental stages that may affect how they benefit from, participate in, and more importantly, accept treatment. Recent researches have shown that an essential part of the brain that manages executive functions such as planning, judgment, and reasoning may not be completely developed until after 25. Adolescents with an alcohol dependence problem won’t think equally like an adult. As the result, there are direct treatment implications.
Also, with younger people, they will likely be working with parents, teachers, guardians, or any family member. It is crucial that adolescents feel that they are being heard by adults. A collaborative approach is highly important for them and as parents, you should avoid choosing professionals who take dogmatic and inflexible take-it-or-leave-it approach. Depending on the laws of your province or state, an adolescent may request and choose professional treatment without parents’ consent and those as young as 14 may do so. When therapists work with adolescents, they will find ways for parents to take part in the treatment and recovery process, because in a few cases, the final decision whether an adolescent should continue the treatment lie on the parents or the guardians. This can be a source of great disappointment and concern to parents when they find out that their children are in treatment. Consequently, they may demand for more information. For therapists, it takes a good deal of patience and sensitivity. For instance, some professionals may be required to not share some critical information to parents due to certain legal restrictions.