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Counselling Skills for Working on Addictions

There are various skills for working on addiction. Here, we would be focusing  on counselling skills.

Counselling skills: The basic counselling skills are listening, non-verbal communication, reflective listening, empathy, analyzing, summarizing or use of open-ended questions. Besides these, there are essential counseling skills which are described below:

  • Sincere empathy – The conveying of sincere empathy is must to the addiction workers. An individual person should learn how to respect as well as empathize the addicted by non-verbal communication skills
  • Motivational interviewing to inspire lasting change – Motivational interviewing is a goal-oriented which includes open-ended questions for analyzing the need of the addiction workers (, 2019). This type of skills is used to inspire a change that lasts forever and increase the strength of those who are engaged in addiction by breaking the chain
  • Active listening – It helps to encourage addicted individuals to share information. It expresses awareness as well as interest so that the addiction worker could communicate easily
  • Processing – It is an act of thinking to observe the addicted. It allows collecting data on the attitudes or beliefs of the addiction workers
  • Responding – It is an act of shared information which consists of giving feedback or emotional support

Suppose, a person who is drug addicted, comes to a doctor for treatment, who is skilled in working with addiction. The aspects of addiction help the doctor to know the conditions of the person mentally or as a whole. The doctor uses counselling skills to establish the aim of handling the patient, modality of treatment or the plan of treatment. A professional should respect the patient and control the healing relationship with the client. The doctor may use active listening skills to motivate the client to share knowledge by offering them nonverbal as well as verbal expressions of attention.

The professional person may use processing skills to observe the patient’s attitudes, knowledge, beliefs, and hopes. He can use the skills to find the information provided by the client or his family. The doctor uses responding skills to express empathy (means an understanding of experiences of others). A professional can express empathy by saying ‘I understand your problem’ or ‘I am sorry about your issue’ when the patient tells his situation to him. A doctor may use open-ended questions to the patient to focus the attention of the patient in exploring the situation.

The essential skill for an addiction professional is an active listening skill. Because active listening is a skill that can be developed with practice. It refers to providing full attention to the speaker with all senses. A professional can improve his listening skills by practicing active listening. Through this, an addiction professional can be aware of listening not only the words of the speaker but also by sharing he concerned messages. A professional person can develop a healthy as well as positive interaction with the individual. The active listening skills help a professional to energetically express verbal or non-verbal signs of listening to the speaker (Capuzzi and Stauffer, 2016).

Active listening is the most significant skill for addiction professional. It helps an expert to elaborate the points to the speaker and make the speaker feel comfortable. An addiction expert through his facial expression or eye contact can communicate with the client. The skill helps the professional to paraphrase the words of the speaker. Through paraphrasing, the client can realize that the listener understands what he wants to say. The speaker can focus on relevant things which are crucial for him. A professional can express the feelings of the speaker and react in such a way that indicates an acceptance of the sensitive state of the speaker (Courtwright, 2012).

An addiction individual requires practitioners having specialized sets of skills because addiction practitioners help them to overcome the problem of being addicted to drugs or alcohol. The way of treatment would also be different from the practitioner having no skills. The practitioner with specialized skills may treat an addiction individual normally and by using a set of skills to gain knowledge regarding the individual. A skilled practitioner would be familiar with the treatment provided to an individual who has dependence disorders. An expert may become an essential part of the treatment to motivate the individual to participate in the behavior program and prepare a schedule to visit after cure to prevent setback (Drugs and Public Policy Group, 2010).

An individual can easily know about the effects of continuous use and abuse of drugs or alcohol. A skilled person in addiction helps the client to understand the dangerous causes of using the drug or drinking alcohol. An expert will teach an individual how to handle stressful conditions and what to do if there is a blunder. An individual could easily overcome the dependence of drugs or alcohol if he visits a skilled practitioner of addiction.