In most instances where there is a substance use problem, very few of the different parties involved will be in agreement about anything related to the problem.
- the nature of the problem – is it substance use or depression or just a “bad patch”?
- the severity of the problem – “things could be much worse”
- the cause of the problem – “if you nagged less, I would drink less”
- whether treatment is necessary – “I just need a holiday and everything will be ok”
- what type of treatment would be best – “I am prepared to see a psychologist but I am not ready for rehab”
There is some truth in each of these responses and the purpose of an assessment of a substance use problem is to get as close as possible to the truth and then devise a treatment plan based on that information. It can be a tricky task because people with substance use disorders subconsciously minimise the problem, even when they openly admit they have a problem. Family members and significant others, on the other hand. driven by concern or resentment tend to exaggerate the issue in a desperate attempt drive a solution. The truth of the situation lies somewhere in between and the purpose of the assessment is to identify this point and devise an appropriate intervention plan.
The two most fundamental issues in assessment are determining the most appropriate treatment alternatives, and developing a plan of care that is consistent with the client’s particular needs and preferences. After a thorough assessment, we can offer guidance and a recommended treatment plan. This might entail referral to appropriate psychologists, psychiatrists and/or other experienced professionals. We can also assist in arranging a detox where necessary, as well as a period of residential treatment where extra support is needed. Lastly, we can also help family or significant others to confront a loved one, where a substance abuse problem exists but the abuser is unwilling or unable to accept it.
Counselling allows for the development of understanding and insight into any difficulties that clients may be experiencing, for the promotion of emotional resilience, and for the supportive context in which clients can begin to effect real and sustainable change. Individual counselling is a collaborative effort between a client and his/her counsellor. The goal is to provide an open, holding, and confidential environment in which clients can address the issues that are concerning them. Family counselling brings together the members of a family as a group. The individuals in the group act as a source of insight and support, while reinforcing the idea that each individual is not the only one experiencing these problems. In this way, understanding, mutual values and common objectives are facilitated.