THE DIFFERENCE THAT MAKES THE DIFFERENCE

“It’s not events that shape us…but our beliefs” Anthony Robbins

In my previous post I mentioned that others noticed a difference in methods the way I approached “it”, whatever “it” is. The difference begins at the first meeting with a client. There is no blaming, shaming or labeling. I believe being non-judgmental is key and that strengths based and solution focused is the best approach.

It is important to be aware that counseling and treatment planning is a collaborative effort between the guide and the explorer. You might choose to say therapist and client or counselor and client.

The best approach for me was to learn the client’s map of reality about how we came to meet each other. Clients share information with the clinician if there is trust or rapport. This will be explained later. It became clear that clients didn’t care how much I knew until they knew how much I cared.

I cared because I always felt that the only difference between me and them was who was sitting in which chair this week. We could all be one thought or one behavior away from being a client in the criminal justice system or addicted to alcohol or other drugs. Who knows: in a couple of years roles could be reversed and the explorer could become your guide.

Humility, beliefs and values are critical for both the explorer and guide. We need to be ever aware of our place in the collaboration and society. Becoming aware of the client’s beliefs stated by the client was important to me so that I would not confuse my map of reality with that of the explorer. Bias can be the undoing of the whole process.

Clinicians as well as clients have limiting beliefs and values that can be harmful to the client. To Do No Harm is the credo of professionals. Being too rigid about appropriate treatment methods may not be in the best interest of the client.

A good example of this is cited in my book, “Drug Court Treatment: The Verdict”, Chapter Seven, p.68-69 where beliefs, values and filters about ‘posturing’ and violence of each of the parties caused problems for society and a client.

While we need to adhere to best practices evidence based methods – if best results could come from “Adjunct Modalities of Treatment for Substance Abuse Counseling”, that may be in the best interest of the client. As an example, I had a different approach to delivering the Cognitive Behavior Theory map to the clients.

Stressing the beliefs piece of the ABC Theory of Albert Ellis was fascinating to the clients. Several who had been in the system or treatment for decades said “nobody ever explained this that way before. They said all I had to do was stay clean and everything would be okay.” Staying clean or being abstinent is only a part of the recovery process. Why is this important?

Anthony Robbins states “It not the events of our lives that shape us, but our beliefs as to what those events mean.” So…

…Helping the clients to recognize, explore and address limiting beliefs and values is probably what clients pointed out as the difference. To me, helping them with this and the way it is done is part of ‘the difference that makes the difference.’

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