Consultation and Advocacy
How do you see yourself related to advocacy or consultation as you become a professional within your area of specialization? Within your own definition, do you see consultation and advocacy similar or different? A job of a counselor primarily consists in assisting people in understanding and overcoming their problems which are psychological in nature. The job of an addiction counselor is to help people overcome their addiction and make sure that it does not interfere with their lives. Since addiction is a battle with feelings, this field requires not only to engage people but also to guide them. However, drug addiction is not a personal problem, but rather a social one. Therefore, helping people overcome drug problems have two areas to be tackled from two fronts: a personal front involving the individual and their interaction with the society, and a social front involving evaluating and formulating policies. Hence, a specialist has to use variety of methods and models in order not only to cure individuals but also to control the problem on a social level.
To a substance abuse counselor, it is very important to understand that treatment of addiction is a lengthy process and requires continuous monitoring and counseling over a period of time. In addition, in the case when a client is in a mental institution due to addiction, it is also essential to ensure the availability of counseling in terms of cost and time. It is also important to respect the needs and requirements specific to the client’s gender.
In an attempt to identify whether consultation and advocacy are similar or not, Moe et el. (2010) collected a list of things that counselors usually do while assisting their client, and this serves as an excellent means to understand what drug addiction counseling might involve. A counselor has to build trust with the client as addiction is a personal problem which is linked to the emotions of the addict. To ensure that the client follows the consultant more than his own emotions is essential in tackling the problem. It is also important to be vigilant and consult with other professionals to ensure better treatment. Furthermore, successful therapy means a healthy involvement of the client and their trust in the treatment; hence, it is essential to empower the client to identify solutions and adapt them. It is also significant to understand the possible influence of client’s circumstances or experiences on the issue of drug addiction, and suggest multiple solutions to solve the problem in order to empower the client and observe his/ her behavior to see the effects of treatment and act accordingly.
Furthermore, the counselor can apply interview techniques to understand the client and gather data which can aid in observing and analyzing the client and their behavior. Since the treatment involves continuous care, it is also necessary to work for increasing access to all kinds of resources for the clients, especially if the client is in an institution where access can be difficult, and provide them with any kind of support to help them to gain and utilize these resources. Moreover, while it is important to empower the client as mentioned above, the counselor’s job is also to use his expertise and data gathered to formulate the best solution for the client. Furthermore, it is necessary to encourage and help the client to take charge of their lives and decisions so they can control their emotions and take part in the treatment process more effectively. Drug addiction is a difficult job, and a counselor must also expect reluctance and resistance of the client, and hence, it is necessary to have strategies to tackle it. Finally, as emphasized before, it is important that that continuous care is ensured. Therefore, the counselor should follow up and keep track of the client, especially if there is a high chance of his/her reverting back to addiction easily.
To deal with the problem socially, one can also use the list by Moe et al. (2010) to summarize what a counselor can and must do. It is necessary to have a network of counselors working together through institutions and organizations to spread their individual findings in order to tackle the issue of drug addiction at a social level. What is more, a counselor must recognize the cultural and social impact on possible drug addiction, for example, adolescents may start experimenting with drugs due to peer group pressure. Furthermore, a counselor can also work on a social level to improve access of clients to counseling and medical resources, and can also be a facilitator by being a part of a social organization or an institution. It is also important to realize that there can be barriers by the institutions themselves in the way of development, which must be tackled. In addition, to solve the problem at the social level, it is important to look at it from a social point of view and accept the effect of cultural and institutional control. This can help tackle the issue at a much larger scale and involve the community at a much broader level. Finally, it is necessary to periodically gather and assess data in order to make records, analyze and understand different approaches, share outcomes and build on existing knowledge to facilitate improvements in procedures, and also enable young recruits to master the field and contribute to it in further development. As a part of continuous care, it is also significant to take direct action via institutions and organizations to implement change and also have strong empathy to really understand client’s feeling.
Moe et el. (2010) refer to previous research to identify that consultation usually involves interacting with the client, collaborating with a client or institution or both to solve problems. The results of the research carried out by Moe et el. steps that a counselor might adapt to counseling of drug addiction problem to show which type of counselors (consultants, advocates, neither or both) are likely to use them. In the above paragraphs I have classified each of these steps as a relevant action to either treat the problem at a personal level or a social level. Comparing that with results by Moe et el., it can be observed that the steps that are used to solve the problem at a personal level are mostly used by consultants and steps used to solve the problem at a social level are mostly used by advocates. Personally, I am interested in dealing with the clients and trying to solve their addiction problems at a personal level, whereas tackling the social part of the problem must be done at an institutional level. Thus, I see myself being more of a consultant as I become specialized and gain experience in my field. However, one must not ignore the overlapping of two types; some of the tasks that consultants prefer may be used to solve the problem at a social level and vice versa. For example, collecting and analyzing data can be considered both as consultancy and advocacy since it can help to solve the problem at a social level as well as at an individual level. As the conclusion by Moe et el. Also suggests, the divide between consultancy and advocacy is not that concrete. So I would certainly not be strict in adhering to that theoretical divide and would not be reluctant to take steps that are mostly used by advocates if it can help me treat my patients better. How does advocacy benefit the care provided for children, adolescents, adults, couples, and families related to the specific specialty area that you plan to practice? Consider Mark, a hypothetical case of a boy in his early teenage years, who comes from a low-income background and is just entering high school. Even though nobody from his immediate family, i.e., his parents and siblings, suffers from a drug problem, he has distant relatives with minor alcohol problems. He is an average achiever who has a considerable social gathering and has had good feedback from his previous teachers. His parents have not been strict with him before, but they realize that now he is entering an important phase of his life which will impact his career.
So they are tough with their son and keep a close eye on him. There is also a lot of competition in high school. Furthermore, the people around him are also experimenting with new things, and these things mostly include drugs. In short, Mark has never been scolded by his parents. He also has deal with the tougher competition and he also feels that he needs to belong to some group to survive high school. So, one can see that the boy is under quite a lot of pressure from his parents, school teachers and peers, and his hormonal changes are not making things easier for him. So Mark started using minor drugs to deal with the pressure and to be part of the ‘cool guys’ in high school. When his parents discovered it, they decided that Mark was in need of proper counseling to tackle his drug problem. In Mark’s case, it’s not difficult to see the role of society in the boy’s behavior and choices he makes. To a careful observer, the institutional and social pressure played a role in Mark’s choice to use drugs, ultimately leading him to a severe addiction. The boy’s age, considering the maturity level and hormonal changes going on in his body, also makes it highly probable that Mark willbe stubborn, deny that he has a problem and even resist as much as he can. Coming from a low-income family, he also does not have access to resources compared to kids from high income families. The problem would have been worse if Mark was a child of convicted parents where there would have been no one to concern for him. Drug addiction among adolescents is a common problem in the society, and thus, it has to be solved at both individual and social level. Therefore, advocacy can help greatly in tackling the problem by formulating policies at community, institutional and cultural level. Furthermore, if the counselor is well-versed in advocacy and consultancy, he/ she can use their knowledge to observe, diagnose the client on a personal as well as social level, empower him and also contribute to the solution of the problem that requires community involvement.
ReferencesMoe, J. L., Perera-Diltz, D., & Sepulveda, V. (2010). Are consultation and social justice Advocacy similar?: Exploring the perceptions of professional counselors and counseling students. Journal for Social Action in Counseling and Psychology, 2(2), 106.