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"Alcoholics: EMOTIONALLY PROTECTING OURSELVES"
by Toby Rice Drews
by Toby Rice Drews
OFTEN, WHEN WE'RE INVOLVED WITH ALCOHOLICS, WE WANT US TO GO TO SOME KIND OF COUNSELING TO TRY TO GET THE ALCOHOLIC TO BEGIN TO SEE WHAT HE'S DOING TO US..........
WHAT DO WE NEED TO LOOK OUT FOR TO EMOTIONALLY PROTECT OURSELVES WHEN WE DO THIS......... SO THAT THERE ISN'T A COLLUSION BETWEEN THE ALCOHOLIC AND THE MARRIAGE COUNSELOR THAT MAKES US LOOK LIKE THE CRAZY ONES?
AFTER ALL, ALCOHOLICS CAN COME-OFF AS VERY CHARMING TO OTHERS, IF WE WANTS TO.............
Many marriage counselors say they 'understand' that alcoholism is a primary disease and 'understand' its dynamics in the family... but then encourage the couple to 'explore what makes him drink'.... even though the counselor just said that he 'understands alcoholism'.
When the counselor encourages the couple to 'search for what makes his client want to drink'' .... i.e., ''what are the stressors that 'trigger' his wanting to drink''.... the alcoholic welcomes this approach because he knows that this will lead to blaming his spouse--- overtly and covertly.... this time, with the professional stamp of approval from the counselor.
*** Basically, a 'gang-up' between the alcoholic and the counselor to blame the non-addicted spouse.
(See the free-to-view video on the www.GettingThemSober.com website--- in it, I discuss a couple who went to the 'best marriage counselor' in their State......who saw that the husband was a still-drinking alcoholic... and who saw the wife's frustration and anger... and who then admonished the wife with ------ "Maybe he wouldn't drink as much if you smiled more.")
b.)) If any counselor says that one must ''explore the issues that make him drink'' ----- he does NOT understand alcoholism.
He does not understand that the alcoholic drinks because the Yankees won, because the Yankees lost, and because he's bored because the Yankees didn't play............ i.e., there is no 'reason' for the alcoholism other than it's a genetic disease that will manifest at some point if the alcoholic starts drinking.
And the alcoholic will continue to drink, telling the family and himself that "he drinks because x and y and z happened."
c.)) Counseling sessions like what was just described divert from teaching the patient/couple that (as A.A. says) no one ---- no one ---- no one ---- 'makes him drink'. That he drinks because of biochemical cravings because of his genetic disease-------and that if he does not stop blaming others for his drinking, he is in grave danger of dying or going insane from his disease of alcoholism.
In one fell swoop, this type of counseling damages both the alcoholic's chances of survival--- and inhumanely continues the alcoholic's years of blaming the family.
d.)) This kind of marital//alcoholism//couples counseling almost always starts with sessions where "both parties" tell what they each see as "the cause of the drinking" ........ with the therapist also saying that yes, hereditary/genetic factors are ''part of'' the cause of alcoholism---but that other issues ''factor in'' (like "marital problems'').
This approach by the therapist necessitates the sessions blaming the spouse for drinking and relapses.... even though the therapist often denies this. He will often say, instead, "both parties have a role in the family dynamics"... which means that he really sees alcoholism NOT as a primary disease that has its own dynamic regardless of outside issues, people, or situations-------- as A.A. says-------- but as the result of mental-health issues.
This is just gobblygook that has been going on in the mental-health profession for decades........but this time, under the guise of promoting itself as "understanding alcoholism as a primary disease''.
e.)) In the A.A. 'Big Book', there are stories in the back section. In many of them, they talk about their families----and repeatedly state that during the drinking, they blamed their families for the problems in the family...but that once sober and sane again, they saw that almost all the problems in the marriage were a result of their alcoholic drinking.
F.)) THIS IS NOT JUST AN 'ACADEMIC ISSUE'. This difference in 'how to treat alcoholics and their families' is a daily life-and-death issue that manifests in our mental-health counseling centers, in our courts, in our divorce hearings, in our ad-litem-led custody conferences---- with hundreds of thousands of families every year.
Let's face it--- most spouses of alcoholics do not go to Al-Anon. If they seek help, they usually "go see a counselor".
The varieties of mental-health clinicians are trained to treat alcoholics and their families in the professional schools of social work, psychology, psychiatry, and counseling. The major textbooks are rife with these outdated philosophies on how to do this.
Fortunately, despite all this--- there are (albeit only a minority) of therapists who do understand this, and who are not following how they've been professionally taught.
But it is so important for all family members who are confronting the court system---whether it is for 'family counseling' or divorce mediation, or custody hearings, etc-------- to understand what they will probably come up against---- that they will probably find that they will feel verbally attacked//blamed for the problems in the alcoholic family .......and afterward, many will not understand why their guts are telling them that the alcoholism 'won again'.
Just that knowledge alone will give many family members the courage to say 'no' to that kind of counseling ---when they have the choice.
I say 'when they have the choice' because if they find themselves (as they often do) 'sent to' an ad-litem that the court designates to determine custody outcomes....... it often means that the ad-litem is a lawyer who went to a few courses on 'mental health counseling' ..... and has the approach that was just described.
Even though this will be crazymaking for that family member.. if that spouse/parent knows that this is going on... they will be angry of course...but they will feel less crazy-made because they will have the knowledge of what really happened.
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