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Orientation in Counselor’s Work

Orientation represents an essential aspect of an addiction counselor’s work. This process helps reduce the probability of miscommunication during the treatment. It is also critical to ensure that the client signs a form confirming that they are informed of the details of the program. The lack of an acknowledgment in the client’s record can cause legal issues for the practice and the counselor. Therefore, before the program starts, clients should be acquainted with its goals and objectives, rules, and schedule. These three aspects represent the key criteria of the orientation function.

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A counselor should explain the objectives and goals of the program to every client. Those goals are not specific to an individual but are the same for everyone (textbook, p. 38). Specific goals, such as abstinence from drugs or avoiding problems with the law, allow clients to understand the purposes of the program, and adequately evaluate their performance. The client should also be aware of how these aims are achieved. A case example:

“We set universal goals for our program, which can be achieved by any client, regardless of their race, gender, age, or sexual orientation. We want to help people avoid engaging in self-destructive behaviors that affect their quality of life and their relationships with their partners and families. To achieve this goal, we will provide education on the effects of substance use and will conduct individual and family counseling sessions”.

Explaining rules, as well as clients’ rights and obligations, is a critical step in the program orientation. Firstly, a client should be aware that certain behaviors will result in them being discharged, and a failure to inform them of such rules can have legal consequences (textbook, p. 37). Secondly, they should know that they are responsible for attending sessions in accordance with the schedule and arranging timely payments for the services. Lastly, confidentiality is arguably the most important client’s right in counseling, and the professional must convey this information to the client. A case example:

“Smoking, using alcohol or any drugs, carrying a weapon is prohibited on the premises of the facility. Reimbursement for the services can be provided via health insurance or Medicaid. Failure to attend a scheduled session without notice will result in a $30 fee added to the costs of the services. Information heard during group sessions should remain confidential; otherwise, an individual may be discharged from the program without further notice”.

Informing clients of the program’s schedule is vital, as it provides them with a time frame to achieve the goals and objectives, as well as allows them to plan their own schedules. Operation information also includes phone numbers, detailed descriptions of the services, and emergency contacts, so that clients can receive help at any time (textbook, p. 39). The most effective solution would be to briefly describe the program and give a printed version of operations information to the client. A case example:

“We start the day with individual counseling, followed by educational sessions focusing on avoiding relapse and planning day-to-day tasks. In the afternoon, we have group counseling, where you can share your problems with individuals with similar struggles and receive feedback. If you need help during off-hours, you can contact us by phone. You can find the detailed description of the services, as well as emergency information in your copy of the orientation materials”.

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Orientation plays a vital role in addiction counseling for several reasons. Firstly, it helps familiarize clients with general guidelines and shows them that a systematic approach is required to succeed in the program. Moreover, learning about the program in detail leads to reduced anxiety. Finally, properly filled orientation paperwork can play a pivotal role in court if a client decides to press charges against a counselor.

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