Magazine article Addiction Professional

THE Road to Clarity

Magazine article Addiction Professional

THE Road to Clarity

Article excerpt

Talk therapy and journaling help clients make sense of their thoughts

Has this ever happened to you? You're in a meeting (business, recovery, soda!, etc.) and you have an idea to share with the group. In your mind, the idea makes complete sense. It's relevant and insightful, and it clearly will impress your audience. So you share your brilliant idea, only to realize as you hear your words bouncing off the walls that it doesn't sound nearly as brilliant as it did when it was bouncing around in your brain.

This is a common occurrence (with me, anyway) and it demonstrates two things: t) We think in words; and 2) Our brains tend to filter our thoughts - making it difficult for us truly to understand our own thoughts. Fortunately, talk therapy ana journaling can help us gain clarity of thought.

"Thoughts and feelings disentangle themselves as they pass through the lips or theßngertips. "

This quote (author unknown), a favorite of mine, recognizes the difficulty we have in accurately "translating" our own thoughts and feelings. My role as a counselor is to help my client know himself - to get him to examine and challenge his own assumptions, values and behaviors. For many people, talk therapy offers an excellent vehicle for achieving these goals.

Talk therapy

Clients often have the unrealistic expectation that I can solve their problems - that I have the answers to their questions. Fortunately, they soon understand the limitations oí my role.

Most clients "get" the concept of talk therapy. They learn the value of having a relationship with someone who will witness their journey in a non-judgmental way- and who will maintain confidences. Getting them to make effective use of sessions, however, can become a more difficult assignment. It can take many sessions wich a client 10 overcome the awkwardness and uncertainty about the agenda.

Speaking ot agenda, it is my client's responsibility to present topics for discussion. U a client struggles finding issues to discuss, I'll encourage her to make a list of things thai have happened since our last session - to actually jot down things as they occur. I'll even provide a small noiepad for the client to carry around for this purpose.

Some clients are prepared to talk, but are dever in avoiding the reell issues, such as self-esteem, griei, shame, guilt, trauma, etc. This is where an artful therapist can trigger useful discussion by asking open-ended questions and by allowing awkward silences to "push" rhe client into se If- reflection and relevant sharing.

I might never be comfortable with long periods of silence during a session, but this is not about my comfort, is it? It is about helping clients gain clarity of thought. Silence is a potent clinical intervention. It is a learned skill I must continue relearning.

Talking with one's sponsor and speaking at recovery meetings also constitute ways for a person to access true feelings. I often ask clients what they talk about with sponsors and at recovery meetings, exploring the discoveries made during these recovery-focused conversations.

On occasion, I'll let a newcomer share in my office as if at an AA meeting, just to help overcome the jitters related to public speaking. (Yeah, I know. One is supposed to share from the heart, without rehearsal. But some newcomers will never share without a "trial run.")

New speakers often struggle to bring rheir remarks to a close. By showing the newcomer simple ways to end [he talk, that person will have less anxiety about speaking at future recovery meetings. …

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