Friendship.

Friendship.

Friendship.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Friendship.

Sunday Inspiration.     Post by David Joel Miller.

“Friendship … is born at the moment when one man says to another “What! You too? I thought that no one but myself . . .”

― C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves

“A friend is someone who knows all about you and still loves you.”

― Elbert Hubbard

“You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.”

― Dale Carnegie, How to Win Friends and Influence People

Wanted to share some inspirational quotes with you.  Today seemed like a good time to do this. There are an estimated 100,000 words in the English language that are feelings related. Some emotions are pleasant, and some are unpleasant, but all feelings can provide useful information. If any of these quotes strike a chord with you, please share them.

Look at these related posts for more on this topic and other feelings.

Emotions and Feelings.

Inspiration

Family.

Sunday Inspiration.     Post by David Joel Miller.

Family.

Your family

Family.

“I have learned that to be with those I like is enough”

― Walt Whitman

“That’s what people do who love you. They put their arms around you and love you when you’re not so lovable.”
― Deb Caletti

“Happiness is having a large, loving, caring, close-knit family in another city.”
― George Burns

Wanted to share some inspirational quotes with you.  Today seemed like a good time to do this. If any of these quotes strike a chord with you, please share them.

Friendship.

Sunday Inspiration.          Post by David Joel Miller.

Friendship.

Friendship.

Friendship.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

“We are all travelers in the wilderness of this world, and the best we can find in our travels is an honest friend.”

― Robert Louis Stevenson

“A friend is someone who knows all about you and still loves you.”

― Elbert Hubbard

“Do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends?”

― Abraham Lincoln

Wanted to share some inspirational quotes with you.  Today seemed like a good time to do this. If any of these quotes strike a chord with you, please share them.

Why is love so hard to find?

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Feeling of love

Looking for love.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Everyone looks for love but not many find it.

LoveOf all the topics to write about why love? Nothing comes up more in therapy that the subject of love. Despite all the books on love, all the love songs and the poems about love, few of us seem to be able to find the love we are looking for. Why?

Love is big business. There are dating sites devoted to finding your one true love and books on how to attract that love into your life, but still, so many people are starved for love.

The 1960’s were full of expressions about love, love generation, summer of love, love child. One quote from long ago seemed, to sum up, the problem with a shortage of love.

“How come half the world is crying when the other half is crying too? Why can’t we get it together?” I remember hearing that, something close to that, from Janis Joplin shortly before she died.

One of the Jefferson Airplanes most remembered hits – Somebody to love. Despite all the looking for love there still seems to be a shortage.

There are several reasons we can’t seem to find enough love is this life.

If you don’t know what you are looking for how will you know it when you find it? Many of the things we say we want out of life are in short supply for just that reason. In psychology, they have a term for this phenomenon – The expert effect. Sometimes we don’t recognize we have something until it is gone.

Possible if we all worked harder on loving others, not the lusting kind but the real caring for other people sort of love, we might be less hungry for love.

Where do you find love?

The greater problem, the reason love may be so elusive is that we have been misled about where love could be found. When we are young we think love comes from someone else. Parents love, caretakers love and the love of friends and associates these things seem to make us “feel loved.”

For many out there that “love” was contingent on doing or saying what that other person wanted from us. We began a lifelong search for someone who could love us enough for us to feel lovable.

The problem is confounded for those who learned to substitute sex for love. If you just had the right kind of sexual partner then you might feel loved. So we look for lovers and friends that can make us feel loved.

Humans are social creatures; there is no denying we need other people. But finding someone who can love us so completely that we will never feel unloved and unlovable again, that is a futile search.

The place we need to look for that fullness of love is the last place most people would ever think to search. If you are to ever feel really loved, you need to begin by loving yourself. For if you are not able to love yourself no other person will ever be able to fill you with love.

What if you are so far down that you can’t even love yourself?

That is the time we need to look for that higher power, that thing beyond ourselves and those other failed human relationships. Look for someone greater than yourself and by that, I do not mean some earthly person.

Some find that unconditional love in a religious institution or in a recovery or 12 step group.

A saying around those tables is that other recovering people will love you until you are able to love yourself.

You can’t fill up that love-shaped hole in your being by rushing around looking for the right person to love you. First, you need to learn to love yourself and feel worthy of love and then you will be able to accept others love into your life.

Just my thoughts. What have you found out about solving this love shortage?

“Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net”.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Amazon Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

Do therapists tell parents what kids say?

By David Joel Miller.

How much confidentiality should children get?

Do therapist tell parents what kids say?
Photo courtesy of pixabay

This can be a very touchy issue. Nothing more infuriates a parent than the sense of loss of control over their child’s care. Parents routinely want to know all about what their child is talking about in therapy. Children often ask “Do you have to tell my parents,” before they will disclose something. There are no simple answers.

Two primary questions here.

1. How much should the parents be told?

2. How much are they legally entitled to know?

There are good reasons why parents need to know what is going on with their child. There are also some equally good reasons why they should not be told. Let me try to explain both.

Consider this a general answer and deliberately vague, lots of factors play into this situation and these vary widely from location to location. So the legal practice in one state may not apply in another. From the therapist point of view, there are something’s the parents need to know and other things that will interfere with the process if the therapist tells them.

The exact legal requirements are another issue which varies with the jurisdiction.

Parent, therapist, and the child may also discuss ahead of time just what things will be told to the parent and what should be kept confidential.

Some parents want to know everything the child says. They want the counselor to pry those secrets out of their child. They ask us things like “Is he doing drugs?” “Is she having sex?” The great illusion of some parents is that if they knew all their children’s secrets they could better control the child’s behavior and “Keep them from making mistakes or doing something wrong.”

Let me give you a real-life example of a parent’s effort to control their child’s behavior and how it backfired. This particular example is based on a news story, not my clinical practice so parents, if I have seen your child, relax this is not your kid. I have imagined a few things that were likely to happen after the news account left off.

Dad was worried about his daughter staying out late and was suspicious she was having sex with one of the boys from her school. Dad wants to put a stop to this behavior. He gets an adult this girl trust to talk with her. Have that sex talk. She reveals that yes after going to a local hangout she and this boy did go off and have sex. The girl is 17 the boy is 18. So this sex, in my state, would have been illegal as statutory rape but not reportable by the counselor as child sexual abuse.

Dad is told. He becomes enraged. Dad pressures the police and the local D. A. to arrest this older boyfriend for statutory rape. Dad also files a lawsuit against the hangout where the two of them met for endangering the morals of children. Let’s not worry about the merits of a suit like this just now. The boy is in jail, the hangout is fighting to stay in business and now checks all the kid’s ID’s and no longer allows anyone under 18 to enter. Everyone in this small town knows who had the sex that caused the problems for all of the other teens.

The result?

This Girl, now furious with her father, sneaks out her window, goes to another spot and hooks up with a couple of older guys. She is going to get even with dad. She is now having sex with lots of older guys, not just the one cute potential boyfriend who is away in jail.

A better approach would have been to talk with the girl about love, relationships and the dangers of unprotected sex.

Parents make the mistake of thinking that they need to control children’s behavior to keep them safe. So very often that “protected” child turns 18 and now all bets are off.

Parents, at some point in your child’s life, probably in the teen years, your role should move from protecting your child to teaching them how to make good choices. That learning to make choices part scares most parents. What if they make a mistake?

Parents fear this because frequently those parents have made all those mistakes themselves.

We all need to live our lives, learn to make choices, for better or worse and sometimes in the process we fall down and get hurt.  A good parent can loosen their grip enough to let the child make some decisions and learn from them before they reach the point of having to face those huge, life-altering, decisions all alone.

Lots of teens ask me to not tell their parents things because they know they have messed up. Often the parents are very understanding and can help the teen solve the problem. Embarrassment and the keeping of secrets are not helpful to the teen.

Some reasons parents should not be told what their child says.

If there is a danger the parent will overreact, or harm the child then the counselor may be ethically bound to keep things from the parent.

More than one parent was concerned about what the child was saying because the parent was engaged in illegal activity, used drugs or had some other secret they wanted to hide.

If you are the parent whose child is in therapy, trust the therapist to tell you what needs to be told, to report what legally has to be reported and to try to help your child through the process of learning to make their own decisions.

If you are that teen in therapy, have this conversation with your counselor. Ask them what sorts of things they will be telling to your parents and what is confidential. Unless there is a safety issue involved it is generally best to let your parents know what problems you are dealing with and the counselor can help you with the process of telling them. Don’t let embarrassment keep you from getting help. We all make mistakes in life. The smart people know they need to fix those mistakes and sometimes that means asking for help.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Amazon Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

How to Build a Successes Machine – The technology of success

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Success

Success.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Build a successes machine, turn the crank and out comes another goal accomplished.

 

How do successful people do it?

Ever meet one of those people who are able to accomplish most anything they set their mind to? They are able to reproduce their successes project after project. I am not talking about the Bill Gates and Steve Jobs; knock one out of the park kinds of success. For that, you need not only ability, but a great idea and some good timing helps.

What I am talking about is that person who is more successful than most. They are the people in the next cubicle or down the block who seem to get a lot done, accomplish their life goals and manage to be happy doing it. How do those people do it?

They have built a success machine and they are able to repeat those accomplishments over and over. Want to know how to build yourself a success machine? Here is how you train yourself to improve the odds that your next effort will work out the way you wanted it to.

1. Doing your homework increases success.

People who repeatedly accomplish things don’t go off half-cocked. They have done their homework and know which things have a chance of working and which don’t. They don’t jump into doing things because they want them to be possible. No wishful thinking here but sound research.

This does not mean they go along with the crowd. They evaluate things for themselves, do their homework and once they have the facts make their own decision. They get noticed because they made the effort to check out an opportunity that other people overlooked.

2. Create a plan for success.

Good results do not happen by chance. People who get a lot done have plans; doable, well-researched plans. They also have ways of measuring outcomes and monitoring their efforts to see if they are on track. This does not mean they give up every time they get behind schedule but they do know if they are headed in the right direction or not.

For most projects, these plans are written out in some detail. They have budgets for both time and money and they have criteria for evaluation.

3. Break that success plan up into manageable steps.

Getting out of debt does not generally happen because you get a sudden windfall of money. It happens a few dollars at a time. The same thing holds true for other life goals.

Want a new better-paying job? There will be a series of steps you will need to do to get from where you are to having that job. Do them one thing at a time and if your research and planning were done well then you have a good chance of landing that big one.

4. Don’t set yourself up for failure.

One major cause of failure to get things accomplished is trying to do too much too fast. You decide to go back to school for a new degree, get a new job, lose weight and get in shape all in the same month.

All of these things are good goals. Over time you can get there, but trying to do too much at one time sets you up for failure. You won’t do well in school if you are out exercising. It is also hard to concentrate on exams if you are looking for a new job.

Break these projects up into small manageable steps. Make small changes in your routine.  Monitor your progress and switch your emphasis to the next phase as you finish each thing.

5. Keep on the path to where you are going.

Excessive, frequent changes in goals are likely to undo all the effort you have made. Spend time evaluating goals before you start on the journey. At some point, it helps to recheck those plans. Some people do annual or even monthly reevaluations. But don’t change those plans from day-to-day without a good reason.

Switching goals from day-to-day ensure that you will not be successful at anything.

6. Enjoy the trip towards your version of success.

People who enjoy the process of exercising lose more weight. Find a form of exercise that you enjoy, maybe walking, maybe join a softball league. If you want to eat healthier consider learning to cook healthier.

If you enjoy the subject you are studying you get better grades. And if you like this new career you are more likely to get hired and do well. They can tell in the interview if you are only taking the job because you are desperate and will plan to leave the minute you can.

Follow these 6 steps. Pick a small goal, do the process and watch your progress. As one goal becomes a part of your normal routine add another until eventually, you can say you have built the life you want.

Do not make the mistake of thinking that happiness will come from having or accomplishing. True happiness is the result of the pride you will take in your progress along the way.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Amazon Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

Desperate for friends? – Signs of a destructive friendship.

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

group of friends.

Friendship.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

5 Ways to evaluate a friendship.

Some friendships are destructive; some drain the life out of you. Why then do we hold on to those friendships even when there is something inside of us telling us this is not right?

Certainly one quality we want in a friend is someone who cares about us and likes us all the time. It is not much of a friendship if their feelings towards us are dependent on us being a certain way or doing a certain thing for them.

If we expect that kind of total acceptance from a friend then we might tell ourselves that we need to be there for them even when it is painful or has its emotional price. How then do we decide if this friendship has become toxic? When do we need to let friends go?

Some of us stay with unhealthy friends out of guilt or duty. We feel we owe it to them to continue the friendship. Others stay in unhealthy relationships because of an inner fear that if we did not have this friend then we might have no one.

It takes courage to look at this relationship and realize that this “friendship” is not healthy. When you spend time with this friend how does this make you feel?

1. Friends should be uplifting.

You should part company with a friend feeling better than when you met. That conversation you had with the friend should make you feel happy and good about yourself.

If you leave your time with that “friend” feeling drained, down or bad about yourself then you should reconsider this relationship.

2. How do you feel when away from this person?

Do you feel relieved that the visit is over? This is clearly a bad sign. Do you dread seeing them again but feel you owe it to them to visit?

A clear sign of a toxic friendship is that dread you get when you think about going to see them.

3. What do you do when you are together?

If the time together is all about the other person, when you are there to cater to their wants and needs, then this is a one-way friendship and they are on the taking end.

Some people are ill. We may take care of them. When we leave this person we may feel a sense of joy at having been able to be helpful. But if that person seems to constantly demand more, then this is not a healthy relationship.

4. What does this person like to do when you are not around?

If this friend’s primary interest is in doing things that make you uncomfortable then this is not a healthy relationship.

People who like to drink, get drunk, or do drugs, want those around them to do those same things. Is there pressure to be like them?

Does being around them place you at unnecessary risk? Are they involved in an illegal lifestyle? Then how healthy is it for them to involve you in their problems?

5. Do you feel pride or shame when you see how they treat others?

If how this person is treating others makes you feel bad, then consider that they are probably treating you that same way but you are avoiding looking at those behaviors.

Positive friends should make you proud, not ashamed of their behavior.

Take a look at your friendships, and the other relationships in your life, look at the unhealthy ones and consider how you can cut these off or limit your contact with people who are harmful to you and your recovery.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Six David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track, and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Dark Family Secrets: Some family secrets can be deadly.

What if your family secrets put you in danger?

Letters from the Dead. The third in the Arthur Mitchell mystery series.

What would you do if you found a letter to a detective describing a crime and you knew the writer and detective were dead?

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

Planned Accidents  The second Arthur Mitchell and Plutus mystery.

Sasquatch. Wandering through a hole in time, they encounter Sasquatch. Can they survive?

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller

Books are now available on Amazon.

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

For videos see: Counselorssoapbox YouTube Video Channel

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking, and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders, see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter.

Going nowhere fast? When you want something and you’re not getting it.

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Ball recovery

Recovery and Resiliency.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Questions to ask – things to do when your dreams are not happening.

Recovery

Some people seem to be able to make everything come their way. Others of us seem to keep struggling, the only thing coming our way is an oncoming truck. Here are some things to look at if you just can’t get things to happen.

1. How bad do you want it?

For several years now I have been saying I wanted to lose some weight. Every time the choice between exercising and sitting down to read a good book or write another post comes up – the weight loss goal losses out. I am just not that committed to losing the weight.

Motivation plays a role here and later this year there will be a series of posts on motivation, how you motivate yourself and others. But no amount of motivational efforts will help if you just don’t want it enough to put in the effort.

2. Do you believe in yourself and in your ability to reach this goal?

This is really about two different things. Do you deserve to be successful? If you have doubts in this area you need to do some work on that issue. I believe that we all deserve success and happiness. What success means to you, that is a different question.

The second part of this is do you think that if you set out to accomplish something you will be able to do it? If you have doubts about your abilities, you need to get more skills training. Work with a good counselor or coach may help establish or improve the skills you will need to get where you want to go.

3. Have you identified your objectives, short and long-term?

Saying you want a more successful, productive or happier life is a start, but we need to operationalize those goals. What will it look like when you get there? How will we know you are headed in the right direction? Are there any markers along the way that will tell us we are headed in the right direction?

4. Are you taking action?

All progress begins with taking action. You cannot succeed at something if you do not try. The first step in reaching more goals in your life is taking more actions.

No one hits one hundred percent of the shots they take but you have to keep putting the ball up in the air to make any baskets.

5. Are you cheering yourself on?

People who keep telling themselves they can, they often do. Tell yourself that you can’t do this, that this will never happen and you create the failure. Are you urging yourself on or holding yourself back? Positive self-talk contributes to success, negative self-talk ensures failure.

The highly successful keep telling themselves they can. The also look at results that fall short of their mark as improvement opportunities rather than failures.

6. Have you learned the technology of success?

Success is rarely the result of some sudden stroke of luck. Some people do win the lottery but we have repeatedly seen winning does not produce happiness. There is a process for technology, involved in moving from wishes to results.

Learn the technology of success and practice it. Become good at reaching goals, small and large. More on the technology of success in a future post.

7. Keep on the success path.

People who are highly successful are “single-minded” meaning they are not easily distracted. They do not change goals frequently and they do not put reaching those goals aside on any kind of regular basis. They do keep reevaluating their progress, am I on track, am I doing what I need to do, and is this still something I want to accomplish?

Very successful people do reexamine goals and change them from time to time. They also may have several or many goals they are working towards. What they do not do is vacillate. They are either in or out.

8. Enjoy the journey to your goal.

If you hate the process, the things you have to do to reach a goal, then it is not likely to be meaningful when you get there. People who have the greatest success are working at things they enjoy doing. The more you like a subject the better you will learn it. The more you enjoy an activity the more likely you are to repeat that behavior and the better you get at it.

Sure every worthwhile endeavor involves some sacrifice and some difficulty. Remember the old saying “no pain no gain.” I think pain, in that sense, means effort and struggle, not suffering. People who are highly successful learn to enjoy the struggle as well as the result.

Is your life the way you want it to be? Do you have goals that are not coming to pass? How are you doing on goal setting, motivation and creating your happy life?

David Miller, LMFT, LPCC

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Amazon Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

Mentally Ill keep Big Tobacco profitable – dying to smoke

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Cigarette

Cigarette smoking is addictive.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Mentally ill and substance abusers are major consumers of tobacco products.

Those with a mental or emotional health problem continue to be major consumers of tobacco products.

A recent government study reported that 40% of those with a mental illness smoke cigarettes.

This is almost double the rate of smoking among the general public.

There was a time when the rate of smoking among those with a DSM diagnosis, that is either substance abuse or mental illness was reported as topping 50%. While this most recent study suggests a slight decrease in smoking by the mentally ill their rate of tobacco consumption continues to be far above that of other Americans. This decline however slight may well reflect a change in attitude among providers of services to the mentally ill.

We have discovered that having a mental illness can reduce your life expectancy by twenty years or more. On average those with a mental illness live shorter lives than those without similar challenges. Despite the existence of treatment that significantly reduce the impact of having a mental illness, we continue to have long-term health problems associated with having developed a mental illness.

In the past, many professionals took the position that with all the challenges the mentally ill had why were we trying them to get them to give up smoking or other things they found pleasurable even if those practices were impairing their health. The attitude of professionals is changing.

Recovery includes not only recover from their mental illness or substance abuse problem but from other unhealthy lifestyle choices. It is not the role of professionals to decide for our clients how they will live. Sometimes they make unhealthy choices. But they deserve the same care and advice about the dangers of unhealthy practices that other people receive. Long-term effects of substance abuse can increase mental health symptoms while impairing health.

Some things, like smoking cigarettes and abusing street drugs, are so high-risk any recovering person should consider giving them up. Recovery is not just about giving things up. It should also include positive steps to improve health and activity. Putting away the cigarettes may be a start on your efforts to create a new healthier and happier you.

Till next time, David Miller, LMFT, LPCC

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Amazon Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

What’s the big deal if a therapist smokes a little dope? Ethical Loopholes Part 2

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Cannabis

Marijuana’s effects. 
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

What if your counselor does drugs when they are off work?

 

The series on “Ethical loopholes and why these can strangle you” started in a previous post (last Friday) when I talked about the dangers of counselors talking too much about their clients and then violating confidentiality, this is a violation of most codes of ethics and illegal in most places. I also said there are three other ethical problems for counselors that may be affecting their clients. Here is part two – Counselors who are impaired by drug or alcohol use.

Is it OK to be a casual drug user? Can you just chip a little? Even if someone has a drug problem, should that keep them from working a job?

I think this depends on what that job is and for counselors and therapists, this should be a no.

There are times when working with a client that I do not focus first and exclusively on getting that client to stop drug use. When working with a suicidally depressed client, this is not the time to talk stop smoking or even about giving up weed.

That is the old approach and it did not work. We used to tell the mentally ill that they had to stop all drugs for 30 days before they could get mental health treatment. Clinicians did not want to diagnose clients until they had a period of sobriety. So they referred them to substance abuse treatment first. The substance abuse treatment provider then refused them saying they were too mentally ill for drug treatment until they got their mental health symptoms under control So the client got ping-ponged back and forth.

The new process is to treat both problems at once and to “meet the client where they are” so if they are not ready or do not want to quit we work on the things they do want to change. So far I am good with this. I believe that any clinician worth their salt substitute can do an adequate assessment on someone who is using, you may have to catch them at a lucid moment but it can be done.

So we help clients work on what they want to work on. But here is where there is a two-part ethical trap.

In being willing to work with clients who are still using we can cross the line into saying that their drug use is OK and that they are entitled to keep doing it. I think we let the client down when we do not at some point mention that their drug use may be causing some of their mental health symptoms and encourage them to stop.

This danger, that accepting their drug use and working with them as they are can turn into advocating for their right to continue to abuse substances.

I am not an advocate of trying to help an airline pilot control their recreational drug use or alcoholism and still keep flying.

Ethical problem for counselors.

Once you begin to advocate for your clients right to keep getting high and working it is a short hop to thinking that it is OK for the therapist to use and get drunk as long as they do it on their own time.

At what point does this “harm reduction” philosophy move over into it is OK for the therapist to use?

Can you smoke the night before and sleep it off? What if you come to work and are high? What if you come to work and have a hangover?

It is my belief that counselors who started out advocating for the clients right to keep using can cross the line into being impaired by drugs and alcohol on a regular basis.

Those therapists do not usually get caught because they come to work impaired. They can often hide that. But every time I get my professional magazine it seems like there are more listings for therapists, psychologists, and counselors who got arrested did something violent or delusion while under the influence.

Guess what? Licensing boards do not say “He was off work so the DUI does not count.” Impaired professionals get their licenses suspended or revoked.

Starting to make exceptions for when it is OK to keep on drinking and using includes the risk that the professional will pick up.

I cannot tell you how many times I have seen substance abuse counselor’s crash and burn when they picked up again.

Therapists seem to be able to hide it a lot longer but once they stick their head through that ethical loophole and think that it is OK to abuse substances occasionally when they are off work, then becoming an impaired professional is just around the corner.

Oh my, the word counter is blinking at me again. Seems I have gotten worked up and written more words about this ethical issue than I had planned.

In a future post the dangers of counselors and therapist making exceptions to the “dual relationship” principle.  Getting to be friends with clients and doing things other than therapy with them can hurt clients and therapists. We also need to talk about that sex with counselor thing but we have saved that for last. See you again next time.

David Joel Miller, LMFT, LPCC

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