To advocate is to act as a voice of someone or a particular group and mostly in their defense or for a certain course. This is commonly done in groups or individuals who are not able to speak for themselves. Advocacy is therefore a form of consultation since it involves taking actions deemed necessary to solve a problem. In consultation and advocacy, there are five major steps involved. They include, identifying the problem, gathering information, setting goals and planning how to achieve them, engaging skills, and evaluating the progress.
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Defining addiction counseling
Addiction is a condition where a victim is unable to stop or control a particular repetitive behavior (Newman & Newman, 2012). This is normally influenced by the desire to escape from a certain reality of life. It includes events or thoughts that a victim would rather ignore or avoid in order to feel safe. While addiction may offer this temporal escape, the reality eventually comes, hence forming an unquenchable urge for a certain behavior or substance. Addiction Counseling is the therefore the steps and procedures involved in helping a client to liberate himself or herself from his or her undesirable habits.
Addiction counseling skills help clients or victims of addiction to understand their emotional needs (Newman & Newman, 2012). Emotional needs therefore are desires that make it difficult for addicts to stop an addictive behavior. Knowledge of Addiction Counseling equips a counselor with skills that helps the client to face life confidently without fear of engaging with the reality (Newman & Newman, 2012). This includes helping the client to understand the emotions that influence their behavior, as well as evaluating the problem (Newman & Newman, 2012). Addiction Counseling also helps the client in setting goals, formulating a behavioral plan and eventually achieving their desired goals (Newman & Newman, 2012).
The importance of social justice advocacy and consultation in the counseling profession
Social justice advocacy plays an important role in the counseling profession. Counselors in the past relied on the intra-psychic phenomenon to explain and solve a client’s problem (Newman & Newman, 2012). Even in addiction cases, counselors attribute the problem to internal mental factors. This assumption does not allow psychologists to research on the impacts of environmental factors on addiction (Newman & Newman, 2012). Nonetheless, social justice advocacy has broadened the sphere in counseling. Changing the client’s feelings, thoughts, and behavior is very effective in counseling. However, as a counselor I would pay due attention to social context.
Social justice advocacy is not considered as a form of counseling. This is mainly because counseling mostly relies on medical intervention while solving mental and behavioral problems (Newman & Newman, 2012). Internal factors for instance can influence addiction and behavioral changes although it is also true that environmental factors can do the same. Problems that are influenced by external factors should not be given an internal approach. Social justice advocacy should be considered as a form of counseling since it solves issues that are influenced by environmental factors (Newman & Newman, 2012).
How I relate to advocacy as an addiction counselor
In my area of specialization as an addiction counselor, I see myself relating to advocacy in a number of ways. To begin with, Addiction Counseling involves working hand-in-hand with a client who is facing a behavioral crisis (Newman & Newman, 2012). Working with the community is based on one goal, which is establishing the general needs of the community. Availing Community-help programs to the people helps to mitigate problems before they actually occur. Addiction counseling helps to evoke a prevalent awareness hence solving societal problems and influencing change in the community.
Every addiction problem is unique therefore different therapy techniques are employed depending on the specific problem. The common problems in addiction counseling include substance abuse, depression, marital problems, and other issues (Kurpius & Rozecki, 1992). These issues are based on morality and social conduct thus they are matters that should be addressed in the social context. External or environmental factors are highly responsible for such problems. Solving these problems therefore will include establishing the root causes of the problem that includes social injustices.
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Advantages of advocacy and social obstacles affecting addiction counseling
Advocacy is advantageous to the care given to children, adolescent, adults, couples, and families in a number of ways (Kurpius & Rozecki, 1992). Clients can now access social security benefits by applying for the provision of these services (Kurpius & Rozecki, 1992). There are support programs for parents whose children have mental illnesses such as the Psycho-Education Curriculum (Kurpius & Rozecki, 1992). Other programs include Individualized Education Plans for children ‘IEP’ (Kurpius & Rozecki, 1992). For addicts and mentally ill individuals there are specialized treatment services.
The major barrier to the care provided for these groups is financial inability to access these services (Weisz, 2005). Other barriers include social stigma and embarrassment. Victims are often in a dilemma on whether to come forward with their issues or to suppress them for fear of being ridiculed (Weisz, 2005). In an organizational setting, stigmatization and discrimination are the main barriers to offering addiction counseling.
A hypothetical situation
A particular student had missed a distressing number of lessons in school. Eventually, the school felt that he was contravening the school’s rules and regulations so it took disciplinary actions against him. Due to the legal action taken against him, his parents were very angry with the school management and turned in support of their son. However, the reason why the student had missed so many lessons was unclear. The boy was sent for counseling where it was established that the problem originated from the boy’s drunkard father. His father was a drunkard and he would habitually attend parent’s meetings when drunk which was an embarrassing circumstance.
Due to his father’s addiction, his fellow students would make fun of him and humiliate him in front of everyone in class. Having the entire classmates making fun of his father was unbearable. This made the boy uncomfortable and the only way to avert the trouble was by skipping classes and hiding from his fellow classmates. With this knowledge, the counselor was able to invite the boy’s father, explain the situation and they all agreed to formulate a healing plan. The counselor was able to solve the problem that was not clearly displayed. Therefore, it was clear that the boy could not be blamed for his actions since the environmental circumstances forced him to respond in the way he did. The counselor also helped the society to realize how their actions can affect and harm other people.
Kurpius, D. & Rozecki, T. (1992). Outreach, advocacy, and consultation: A framework for prevention and intervention. Elementary School Guidance & Counseling, 26 (3), 176-189.
Newman, B. M & Newman, P.R (2012). Development through life: A psychosocial approach. Belmont CA: Wadsworth Publishing.
Weisz, N. (2005). Reaching African American Battered Women: Increasing the Effectiveness of Advocacy. Journal of Family Violence, 20 (2), 1-4.