What do you know about addiction and how did you learn it? Experience certainly plays a significant role for many counselors. Many college programs are beginning to provide more course work on the nature and treatment of substance use disorders. Is that enough?
Some of us have personal experience with addiction. Having personal experience gives one a certain level of credibility at the beginning of the counseling process. However, personal experience can become a hindrance if you only see the client through the filter of your own past. In the end, it is knowledge and skill as a counselor that often makes the difference.
So how do we get that knowledge and skill? For me, continuing education is not just a requirement for licensure, it’s a part of my everyday life. I’m always looking for some greater insight into the nature of the problems and approaches to helping.
I’m very excited about a book I found while watching videos on addiction. The author is Dr. Gabor Matè and the book is called “In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction”. I’ve only started reading it but the author makes clear his belief in the connection between adverse childhood experiences and addiction.
In addition to authoring books and working with some of the worst addicts in Vancouver Canada, Dr. Matè is featured in a number of videos discussing addiction as well as other related topics. Here’s an interview where Dr. Matè discusses his ideas about addiction:
And here’s a video from his TED talk in Brazil:
What do you think? As always, I’d love to hear comments from other professionals about any of the topics discussed on this blog.