The Family Education Program is a free program, which provides support to individuals and families struggling with substance abuse disorders. It is a fellowship of individuals who, through shared experience, are recovering from addiction. Each week they meet on Thursday nights to discuss a variety of topics, with a different speaker each week. Last week, I had the privilege of speaking at their event about how I use technology to improve treatment and remove barriers from access to treatment.
Thomas Bannard, the Administrative Director for COBE (College Behavioral and Emotional Health Institute), has taken a keen interest in this topic as he believes access to treatment is made difficult especially after someone has returned from a long care treatment center and there is a 2-3 week wait for that person to see an outpatient counselor.
As I sat at the roundtable (filled with families of loved ones in recovery) I felt a sense of belonging, as this is the reason I do what I do each day. I also felt a sense of dread. Am I delivering the information in a helpful way? These families (and individuals) have been through enough. I wonder, is what I have to bring to the table enough? With this negative self-talk, I realized one thing: the individuals were just happy to be with each other. I structured the talk as I would a group class. We all sat in a circle so that everyone was able to face each other and share – and share they did! Although I will not go into detail about what was talked about, I can say just knowing you are not alone and that someone else has walked in your shoes, was very comforting to these individuals.
What is Online Counseling and How do I Use it in The Practice?
Online therapy is the delivery of mental health via the Internet. People also know it as e-therapy, distance therapy, internet therapy, and web therapy. Within my practice, I use a variety of mediums like instant chat or voice but my preference is video counseling in which I can see the other person(s) and hear them through my computer speakers. Another component that many of my traditional and online clients favor is the online journal. If someone is struggling, it is nice for them to know that I am readily available and listening, or reading as the case my be, to their current struggles or victories. Individuals who suffer from addiction never have to leave their home with online counseling. This is beneficial for several reasons. One benefit is they do not have to run the risk of “being seen” by someone they may know. They also do not have to worry about acquiring transportation.
The Turn Out
It was a sweltering hot day in August when I gave my roundtable discussion but the turnout was great. There were people there from all stages of addiction-from the early stages to long-term recovery. Everyone participated in a worksheet titled, “name your addiction” and as they left, they were smiling. Not because I did some great counseling work or shined my magic counselor wand at them and all their problems went away, but because they felt a sense of community. When you have people around you that care and offer kind words like, “you are not to blame for your son or daughter’s addiction”-that’s huge. What we tell ourselves makes a difference! I even had one person say the worksheet was something she would take home as homework! It was a professionally satisfying night for me as well and I look forward to helping families struggling with these situations in the future.
If you or your family needs addiction counseling, please contact me to set up an appointment. We can discuss the modalities you’d prefer to use including in-person, online counseling, art intervention and even canine therapy.