How a Client-Centered Approach Can Make Recovery Enjoyable

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Addiction recovery isn’t typically considered an enjoyable process. In fact, some people delay getting help because they are scared about the mental, physical and emotional discomfort that goes along with it. The River Source is here to change that mentality and prove that it’s possible – and even easy – to make recovery enjoyable. To achieve this is actually quite simple and lies in our client-centered approach.

Client-Centered Therapy

Client-centered therapy, or person-centered therapy, is a part of this approach and includes non-directive talk therapy. Clients at The RS meet with our counselors each week individually. We create a comfortable, relaxed environment that is free from judgement or criticism. We remain supportive and empathetic, and we let the clients lead the discussion. The two main elements in client-centered therapy are:

It’s non-directive. As counselors, our job is to listen and help our clients make sense of their throughs and behaviors. We do not attempt to steer the discussion any particular way or control the nature of the conversation. This wouldn’t be natural, and it would place limits on our clients.

It’s accepting. Drug addicts do a lot of things they wouldn’t normally do under the influence. Therefore, our clients have a lot of inner struggles they live with. No matter what they tell us, we give them unconditional positive regard. This helps recovering addicts break down their barriers and get to the root of the problem.

Identifying Individual Strengths

There is no one-fits-all recovery plan, and for good reason. No single person is the same as another, which means the addiction, the reasons for the addiction, the background of the person and so forth are unique. Building a strong recovery plan includes recognizing the strengths and weaknesses of each individual person.

With a client-centered approach, we also use our clients’ strengths to help them along the recovery process. Each person has various skills and abilities, and we help our clients to identify these strengths and put them to good use. In some clients, we see a passion for art, writing or speaking. In others, it’s their positive thinking and can-do attitude that sets them apart. Others have a heart of gold and unlimited compassion for others.

Consider this example. Mike and Chris are both recovering heroin addicts who are completing 30 days of treatment. Mike has a supportive family back at home and lives an affluent lifestyle. We would expect that Mike’s family will offer a supportive and healthy environment that is conducive to recovery when he returns home.

Chris, on the other hand, doesn’t have the same arrangement at home. His family struggles financially and feels that addiction is a choice that can be controlled. Can you see how both Mike and Chris, while struggling from the same addiction and sitting at the same treatment center, would need very different recovery plans?

Understanding What Led to the Addiction

Years ago, recovering addicts were taught how to think, how to feel and what to do. Thankfully, this isn’t the case as much anymore, at least at The RS. We go through great lengths to give each client an individualized treatment regimen that takes into account everything about them: their background, family relationships, co-occurring disorders, how they view themselves, what resources are available in their area and so on.

Using a variety of treatment techniques, such as client-centered therapy, meditation and hypnosis, we help our clients see where their addiction came from. So many of our clients have lives that were overshadowed by drugs and alcohol, they no longer know who they are or what led to their destructive behavior. We are successful in peeling back these layers so that our clients and counselors can see what’s at the root of the addiction. Is it problems in the family? A lack of self worth? Depression or anxiety?

When we learn about each client as an individual, we can offer true client-centered care that makes recovery successful and enjoyable. Using our example of Mike and Chris, we would expect that Mike would take comfort in his family support system. We would encourage him to surround himself with family and enjoy appropriate activities with them. We wouldn’t be able to expect the same from Chris’s family. Instead, we would help him find a good support system through 12-step meetings and local support groups. We would encourage family therapy and teach Chris how to look within himself for resolution.

Recovery: It CAN Be Enjoyable

Recovering from a drug or alcohol addiction isn’t something that is done overnight. It takes hard work, patience and diligence. But, it’s important to remember that the recovery process doesn’t have to be some long, intense and uncomfortable process. With this thinking, recovering addicts simply go through the motions instead of embracing what each day has to offer. They should be putting their strengths at work to help them deal with the day’s struggles and appreciating the joys of being sober.

If we could approach recovery as such, imagine the difference it could make. Maybe addicts wouldn’t be so scared to take the journey, and maybe those initial days of recovery wouldn’t be so brutal. And maybe, just maybe, we could lower the risk of relapse because addicts would have a more positive mindset.

Although we are moving in the right direction, we would still like to help our clients see that the initial months after treatment, while challenging, are not simply about survival, coping or fighting off temptation. There is much to be enjoyed, new feelings to experience, relationships to rekindle and a mind, body and spirit to renew. This is what life is all about.