Recovery Work Starts With Finding The Self

Recovery Work Starts With Finding The Self

We know that an addiction is used by an individual to avoid something that is unwanted.  The unwanted is related to interpretations and perceptions each client experiences.  These include feelings as well as consequences resulting from choices made, relationships formed, and losses incurred.  The focus in recovery work assists the client with facing and transforming the unwanted attitudes and behavior instead of numbing out with addictive substance or activity.  This involves connecting with the client, and finally teaching the client to connect with their self directly.

Taking the diamond in the rough analogy, recovery work involves getting a client to access inner resources to find their own inner gem.  Their inner diamond may become brighter and more present with each resource accessed.  The ultimate brilliance fosters conscious deliberate awareness within the self.  Client’s choices can be more easily directed to replace destructive numbing-out when working directly with the self.

Therefore, the underlying reason for substance or activity numbing appears related to maladaptive coping used as a means to avoid feeling or facing something undesired.  Teaching new patterns to replace unhelpful avoidance and reactionary behaviors involves helping the client identify what is presently happening to the client.  Utilizing the mind’s thoughts and feelings as well as bodily sensations are key. This article is written from a cognitive-behavioral Jungian perspective.   Read further, for creating a sound therapy base.  Use these and adapt them as they fit your therapy for building long-lasting recovery healing.

Begin by getting in touch with your own experience in the moment.  Tune into the feelings, thoughts, and expectations you have as you ready your self for joining the client.  Notice any questions that come to mind for self and client.  Observe what clues may have shown up with the client’s initiating contact, arrival time, voice tone and body language.  What do your senses and intuition say in this moment for yourself as well as for the client?  Take in information as you can and perhaps get the client to share some of what might be connected or relevant to any of this data you picked up before the real session begins.

Perhaps you would do best to simply be present and calm.  Next, assist your client in calming.  An easy place to begin this calming is guiding the client to take three breaths as deep as is comfortable.   Participate by leading in the breathing exercise if it feels right to do so.  After calming, encourage the state of relaxation or peacefulness.  Ask your client what word comes to mind.  Allow the client to follow this word in free association style.  This can be used as a soothing enhancement as well as for priming next steps in beginning and dialoging for a session.  Pay attention to whether your client prefers feedback and if so, how much.  Align as best possible to attain what is a nice balance, correcting as you read the client’s clues.  Some clients prefer to find their own answers.  Each therapist has a style for listening and offering suggestions, ideas, and challenges.  Some clients have to be asked before saying their position on an issue.  Other clients have an interactive or quiet style, so it is best to get familiar with your client’s style of interaction.

Next, consider collaborating with your client to develop an intention.  Intentions are put into simple phrases or goal-like statements.  These phrases are not necessarily as specific or fervently driven as a goal, nor as grand as a vision statement, but do set up a direction for therapy.  Ask a client “What do you want to take away from our therapy today?”  This may be the first time a client has been asked such a question or been taken seriously.  Whatever the reaction, an intention points or moves therapy with some focus.  We can collaborate most effectively by massaging the client’s response into a positive affirmation of sorts.  Briefly stated, it can be elaborate or basic.  It’s most helpful if both the client and therapist believe it to be worthwhile.  Starting small is recommended in order to avoid creating fairy tales to follow.  An intention might be something like one of the following statements:  I find peace and remain sober today or I will attend therapy until I feel better about myself.

Masterminding may be added as a natural outgrowth of the intention process.  Mastermind was described in Napoleon Hill’s book, Think and Grow Rich, as a critical principle for attaining goals.  This principal requires that a goal is shared with at least one other person who is in complete alignment and supports the stated goal which results in an additional, energetic, aligned mind, called the “Mastermind”.

Have your client develop a goal that doesn’t yet exist, but is desired.  Encourage the expression of it until both of you think it will lead to betterment for your client.  The goal should be positive, specific, and as big as possible.  However, the goal should avoid extreme optimism which can create magical thinking or resistant disbelief.  Remember, grandiose goals take too much time.  It is wise to keep goals within reachable possibilities and not too extreme to start.  If the client resists even a basic goal, offer them a suggestion.  Reinforce the goal by joining with the client as it is written out, stated aloud together, and reinforced by imagining it completed.  Express your own commitment to envisioning the client’s goal.  Finalize the “Masterminding” by acknowledging the best possible outcome is of interest, therefore the final outcome is attaining this goal or something better yet.   Then assist the client’s process around this goal.  Relapse, errors, and poor results are all used as feedback to correct the client’s work and tweak the original goal.  Some examples of a Mastermind goal might be chosen from the following statement:  “I fully intend, by this time next year, that I have a new job, a better marriage, and a plan to repay my debts”.  Another goal statement might be the following: “In six months I will celebrate my half-year of sobriety so I no longer participate in social events with former friends who continue to use substances and my boundaries reflect healthy choices in all areas of my life”.

At this relevant point, the heart of the work with our clients begins.  It involves helping each client develop an intimate relationship with their self.  Self-intimacy forms the base from which they can create better relationships, choices, self-acceptance, and self-esteem.  This intimate relationship with the self is the bedrock from which all other relationships grow out of.  Gaining inner wisdom and self-knowledge leads the way in fostering an improved intimate relating between the outer physical self’s experiences and the inner emotional self-work.

Self-intimacy incorporates and goes beyond what is revealed by intention and goal setting.  As we listen to client’s spoken words and self-treatment we learn their self-value, virtues, and core beliefs.  Additionally, we help clients find their own answers to their deepest longings.  It is up to us to help support clients as they revise versions of them self to incorporate new information continuously.  So how do we do this?  Read further for some guideposts.

I recommend listening and noting words, phrases, and themes a client speaks about.  Basic values will be revealed, especially as certain words are repeated or show up in stories expressed.  Point out the idea that everyone was born with a couple of natural, yet uniquely expressed values.   Help your client to find theirs and you will also have fun finding yours.  Signs of them are evident when high energy, passion or extremes of emotions erupt.  Encourage clients to test a couple values out as they view past choices and decisions, positive as well as negative.  Some may look like mistakes, but incorporate core values.  Our life is really run by our core values, so this work is essential in developing a close relationship with the self.  Ask clients about the most fulfilling or ‘in the zone’ event they can recall recently or in the past.  If your client doesn’t have a clue, have them practice one or some as homework between sessions.  Ask who is their hero and why.  Search for values in these discussions.  Who has values they don’t like?  Some values may be found by seeing the opposite of what is not liked.  No one except the person them self will be able to determine which values are core for each individual.  They are not stamped in rock and are best adapted as information unfolds.  This provides a rich resource with which to make daily living clearer.

Also consider using questions to help clients.  Often we, as therapists, get great insightful pictures or impressions.   It may prove beneficial to hold back and not say everything we know about a client’s experiences.  Instead, ask questions and deliberately select the best words possible.  For example, avoid saying “why” unless it may be precisely needed to stimulate the client’s thinking or resolving a problem.  When a therapist uses the word “why” with a client, it has a way of backing a person into a corner and ruminating over a past that is longing for a way forward.  The most direct and largest question typically involves a “what”.  For example if a client says, “I don’t know why my girlfriend has to start in on a heavy duty discussion just as I leave for work”, rephrase to “I wonder what I will do to change the conversation at the moment I need to leave for work?” or “What will I do to change this pattern?” or “What am I doing to attract this pattern of so and so?” Please note that a “how” question may be the only one feasible, but will allow one “how” solution only. This is in contrast to the “what” questions which invite all possibilities.  It is popular for clients to say, “I don’t know why I do that” or “Why do I do that?” or “Why would someone do that”. The last example cannot be verified or answered by another party.  Therefore, empower your client to make it a question about their self.  If you notice the first two statements are habitual or reactive, you may wish to assist your client with rewording the phrase to include a “what” question.  If you find there is too much resistance with the rewording, there is likely another issue.  You may wish to make note and continue with prompting your client about something further going on.  Finally, encourage your clients to follow these same rules for themselves as they ask themselves questions.  The idea to keep in mind is to rephrase questions that go somewhere constructive.

Guided meditations are helpful for training clients to use their imagination as an inner resource for finding guidance as well as learning to relax their mind.  These meditations can be created on the spot or taken from educational sources.  Before you begin, ask your client if they have done one before.  Check to see if there is any fear of closing eyes or loosing control.  Assure them they will be able to open their eyes whenever they wish and maintain complete control throughout.  Allow any questions to be answered and of course do not do any more of the exercise than the client is comfortable following.  Find out what is the place or environment most pleasing for your client so you can build this into the prompts you give.

One that I have created, instructs clients as follows (slowly speak each statement and pause between, adapt and be creative as need be with this):

Find a comfortable position by uncrossing limbs and finding a sense of ease.

Soften your eyes or close them and notice any sounds around you.

Take three breaths and imagine tension leaving your body from head to toe.

Allow all sounds, including my voice to relax and guide you to your favorite place (beach for example).

Imagine yourself there and let all your senses experience the feel, temperature, scents, lights, and sounds.  Really be there and let your body experience exactly as if you are there now.  Breathing easily and naturally.

Next, see a Yellow Brick Road beneath you, serving as a guide for you.

As you move along, you notice an inviting place in nature that has a cozy alcove sense.

You enter this cozy place and continue along as it guides you.

Next, you notice a naturally formed archway above your head, which you walk under.

To your left, appears a walkway you follow which brings you to an opening.  You look all around, taking in the natural beauty.

Then you turn to your right following along until you come to a series of rooms on your left.

Enter the one that has the most light or invites you.

Settle yourself comfortably.  Take in the entire room and notice its details.

Now prepare and ask for your highest wisdom figure or guidance to appear.

Notice what shows up and ask its name or what it goes by.

Ask your guide any question you may wish information on (you, as the therapist may structure your own question that may help your client and ask it).

Listen to any response you sense.

Again, ask any question or just listen to what guidance comes to you (allow more time here as seems supportive for your client).

Finish with your guide’s exchange.

Thank your guide and yourself for taking this time.

Ask your guide how to get in touch again when needed.

Allow yourself to meet back in the current room and open eyes on the count of five.

One, two, three, feeling positive and at ease, four getting ready to open eyes and five eyes open.

As you draw this exercise to closing, allow your client to say the name of the guide that appeared.  It may be an energetic form or other being that is meaningful or just peace like.  Use this experience for processing as time permits.

In summation, this article offers opening ways we can help our clients create a closer, more intimate relationship with their self.  This relationship is the one that we all need and depend upon for good mental health.  Clients have a firm base to continue undertaking the work of recovery once they have an intimate relationship with their inner-self as they connect closer with their own inner diamond or gem of their choice.