By David Joel Miller.
Why do professionals send you to A.A?
Therapist and Counselors treat people with all sorts of serious and persistent mental illnesses so why do they recommend that clients with a drinking problem attend AA meetings?
It turns out that attending meetings provides a lot of benefits that a single therapy session each week can’t provide. In substance abuse treatment programs the standard treatment, after you are over the most immediate problems connected to your drinking or drugging, consists of recommending that clients attend twelve step meetings.
Here are some of the reasons why professionals recommend A.A.
The 12 steps include a focused system of change.
Embedded in the “working” of steps are the elements of problem identification, change steps and a program of maintenance. While a therapist may help you work on one problem, depression or anxiety, the steps are a way of changing your thinking about life and all your problems.
Some people’s only problem is drinking too much, they just quit and are fine. Many others find that once they stop, all the problems they had before they drank are back in force. It takes more than putting the bottle down to stay sober.
Attending meetings helps creates a new set of friends that are clean and sober.
One critical issue in recovery is relapse triggers; hanging out with your old drinking or drugging friend’s results in a high risk of relapse. Finding friends that do not drink and use requires a change. The more sober friends you make the more support you will have in staying sober.
Seeing others who have changed is very encouraging.
When your therapist tells you that people can change and do recover, you may say yes some people do, but what about me? When you attend meetings and hear the stories of those who have turned their lives around it becomes easy to believe you can do this, especially with the help of people who have themselves recovered.
The longer you stay connected to therapeutic recovery the better the chances.
Continuing to stay in treatment for up to two years has been shown to create better results. Most therapy programs will not cover or include two years of aftercare. A.A. while not professional treatment is a free or very low-cost way to continue to have “booster shots” of recovery for as long as you need them.
Sometimes when I work with mental health clients, I find myself wishing this client had a drinking problem also and then I could give them a referral to A.A.
There is a serious shortage of self-help, peer recovery groups for those with mental health issues. The few that do exist are often modeled after the 12 step system.
Therapists and counselors do not customarily work the steps with clients. That is something we encourage them to do at the 12 step meeting. What we should do is a process called 12 step facilitation, in which we explain A.A. or other self-help groups, how they work, what the steps are and encourage people to participate in the meetings.
The posts I write about A.A. or other self-help groups are from my perspective as a therapist and clinical counselor and do not necessarily reflect the views of AA World Services. For more on AA and their program of recovery check out the “AA Big Book” titled Alcoholics Anonymous at the links below or contact AA World Services at their website.
The classic text on Alcoholism, recovery this is the book that started off the whole 12 step phenomenon.
One of the Kindle editions – At 99 cents this is such a bargain. This edition needed a separate listing. No Kindle reader? No Problem, if you have a computer you can download a free Kindle reader.
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For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings, and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books