Critical Thinking for Addiction Professionals

By Michael J. Taleff | Go to book overview

Preface

Bill, a well-meaning and experienced addiction counselor for fifteen years, has just walked out of a typical addiction counseling session. He believes he did a good job but actually, he made a number of mistakes, and he doesn't even know it. The mistakes he made were linked to critical thinking errors he often commits. Those errors, in turn, led him to recommend a set of bad clinical decisions for his client.

Now, Bill is a fairly bright guy. He is certified in his state, and has received good evaluations from his supervisor. He trusts that he thinks well, but sometimes, he doesn't. For example, in the case he just left, Bill assessed his client as having a significant alcohol problem, based on only one symptom. Bill then jumped to a clinical decision that sent the client to an intensive inpatient program. The more appropriate approach would have been to conduct further evaluations, contact individuals (family members, employer, etc.) to gather additional information, and then make a clinical decision as to treatment.

Decisions like this happen all the time because flawed thinking leads to erroneous conclusions. This is only one part of the critical thinking problem in the addiction field. The same thinking errors happen at the supervisory and administrative levels. That is, supervisors and administrators make the same kinds of generalizing mistakes by jumping to conclusions before investigating reasonable options.

Another area of the addiction field has similar problems. For example, I have attended numerous workshops and conferences and have read many addiction books over the years. Walking out

-ix-

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