Can an alcohol counsellor help you?

 I talked in this post about  rehabs and promised to come back to how an alcohol counsellor may help. So first to explain some terms.


What is counselling & psychotherapy?

Counselling & Psychotherapy are words used to  describe  a range of talking therapies which is when you meet with a health care professional  (often known as therapist) who is specially trained to  help. Counselling usually involves committing to a series of regular sessions of about an hour in length over a period of time.


Is it easier to talk to a stranger?

Sometimes it is easier to talk to a stranger than to relatives or friends.  During counselling the therapist listens to you and helps you find your own answers to problems without judging you. The counsellor will give you time to talk, cry or just think without judging you.


You do not need to be in a crisis

You do not need to be in crisis to go to counselling, in the same way you might do a course to get a promotion or better job, counselling can be a form of self-development in order to lead a happier more productive life.  It can also help to maintain a sense of well-being whilst facing challenges in your life.  For example, caring for an elderly parent with Alzheimer’s can be very stressful. I’m in this situation and even though I have very supportive friends I find it really helpful to talk to a counsellor on a regular basis.


There are many different types of counsellors

There are many different types of counsellors/therapists with psychological training from clinical psychologists, occupational psychologists, to counselling psychologists, psychothera­pists to CBT counsellors and creative art therapists. Each of these is trained to treat your mental health problems in a different way and there is much discussion about which way is best. Some of these professionals will have gone through their own personal psychological therapy as part of their training, but others do not.


Do all counsellors treat alcohol misuse?

Because of the different types of training they receive alcohol and mental health issues are seen as two different problems. So many counsellors treat mental health issues only and not alcohol abuse issues. This does seem a little crazy as the research shows many people misusing alcohol have an underlying health problem such as anxiety or depression. You can find out more about this issue on this website here. (Note: Angela and I helped to co-found this website)


Do all alcohol counsellors help with mental health problems?

It depends on when and where they trained. Some alcohol counsellor training  courses follow the Alcohol Anonymous 12 step model and the alcohol counsellors are not trained to deal with other  mental health issues. Ideally it is best to choose a counsellor who is trained to treat both alcohol misuse and mental health issues.


Which alcohol counsellor is best for me?

Research shows  a good relationship with your psychologist or counsellor is the most important part of solving your problem.

You should make sure you feel comfortable and safe with your counsellor and you choose a therapist that supports you in setting your own treatment goals and uses a therapy that suits you.


Try to understand what you need

For example, you may have experienced bullying in school but never abused alcohol until you started experiencing anxiety as a result of a stressful work situation. So you may decide you wish to learn to manage your anxiety better, but do not wish to re-open the issue of your childhood bullying. A professional and ethical therapist will accept your decision and work with you on your anxiety only without passing judgement or attempting to re -open the childhood bullying issue as they will know this could be very damaging to you.


CBT therapy

CBT therapy can be very effective for anxiety and alcohol misuse and does not generally have to look at childhood issues. A therapist who uses only psychoanalytic therapies may tend to help by examining childhood issues. They may tend to focus on your childhood. So it is useful to know what type of approach the counsellor will use. A highly trained alcohol counsellor will use a mix of  therapy approaches as that way they are more likely to find an approach that suits you.

We’ll have a course on CBT soon, so if you’d like to know when it becomes available please click here.

In a future post, I’ll deal with selecting the right counsellor for you.






This post was written by Carol

As some who gets hangovers lasting a week, Carol never drank too much - Once she got to a sensible age! However as a patient with an auto immune illness, since she was a teenager she has to drink very little. So she really understands how Irish society makes this very difficult. Carol is responsible for all aspects of Lifewise operations that Valerie and Angela do not cover.

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