Week Twelve


  • Discuss the complexity of working with clients who are also pregnant. How would a pregnancy change your approach to treatment? What issues might come up for you as a counselor? How might you talk about these risks with your client? How would you respond if your client continued to heavily drink or use substances while pregnant?

While working with a client who is pregnant, they may not have their child’s best interest in mind and this individual needs to know the risks involved with continued substance abuse. Since the parent may not understand the consequences their substance abuse will cause their child I would feel obligated to discuss this information because this individual is putting others at risk of serious injury or death. I have worked with a few adolescents who have been pregnant, and I have noticed I become more upfront because I its not just their lives they are disturbing. Many times these patients of mine do not eat right either and will almost live off of PB&J sandwiches, and when this happens I encourage prenatal vitamins to ensure the unborn child is getting the nutrients he/she needs. I do not think my patients have the understanding of what they put into their body also alters early life development, so I stress the importance of stopping drug use and eating right.

    While counseling pregnant individuals it is important to set feelings of anger or frustration aside and work with them so they can understand implications of actions. I discuss the risks with my client/patient by using various educational tools such as videos, books, articles, and their doctors. Since this is an urgent matter I find myself becoming less patient because they are risking another life. Many of my patients do not realize that even cigarette use can cause lasting effects on their child. When these situations arise at work we take a multidisciplinary approach consisting of a doctor, social worker, nurse, and mental health workers.


  • What does it mean to you to advocate for clients and challenge bias? How do you feel about taking on that role? Is that a role you expected to take on as a counselor? Are there some groups for whom it would be harder or easier for you to advocate for? Does that reflect on your own beliefs and values? How so?

I believe that my role is to support and advocate my clients on an individual basis, while educating them on potential assumptions they might hold. My goal is to do no harm, and that is essential when an underage patient of mine is pregnant. I aim to show my clients/patients that I am willing to help in any way that I can, so many times that involves disclosing information they might be unaware of. I try to support my patients in any way I can, and express that I have both their best interest, and their unborn child’s best interest. Because of this I feel it becomes necessary to bring awareness to the presenting issue of continued substance abuse while pregnant.

    It does become difficult working with adolescents who abuse drugs while pregnant because it seems selfish to deny a child a full and healthy life. These unborn children are helpless, and have no way to defend themselves, so it is up to the treatment staff to get our clients continued use under control to ensure a healthy baby. By educating my client/patient on the risks involved is the most important aspect, and if this pregnant woman wants a good life for her baby, hopefully she will make an effort to ensure her baby is healthy.



 Using the Blog References, find and specifically report on at minimum of four websites that you could use for information regarding gender and/or LGBT issues in addictions counseling. Give a minimum of one paragraph of explanation for each site listed.



      The National Advocates for Pregnant Women (NAPW) aims at protecting the rights and human dignity of all women. NAPW is involved with court challenges of drug policies and provides litigation support in cases across the country. NAPW is trying to establish separate legal rights to hold women criminally liable for the outcome of their pregnancies, and to expand the drug war to women’s wombs. They believe that addiction is a public health issue and that treating drug abuse in pregnancy as a crime undermines the health of both woman and child.



       This website displays easy to read charts of substance abuse rates among pregnant women. The website explains prenatal drug exposure and how it has been associated with long-term effects on exposed children. The site also breaks down different drugs and explains potential effects on the children. The website also explains how some medications can help children live healthier lives, resulting in shorter infant hospital stays. There are also behavioral treatments where women are given incentives to remain abstinent.



       This website illustrates how drugs affect pregnant women, as well as how they affect the unborn baby. This site does a good job at explaining how drugs can cause problems throughout pregnancy, and how a women’s drug abuse can affects the placenta, which provides nourishment to the fetus. This site has many side tabs where one can gain facts about almost every drug and the consequences of using during pregnancy. There are also many support tabs with information on how pregnant women can get the help they need to have healthy babies.



       This website seems to have all the bases covered from what constitutes substance abuse, the effects of each substance, prognosis, differential diagnoses, screening, management and treatment,

And care after detoxification. I found many interesting statistics from this site and found it shocking that of the 4 million women who become pregnant each year, 20% smoke cigarettes, 19% drink alcohol, 20% use legal drugs, and 10% use illegal drugs during pregnancy. I think this website puts this topic into perspective, and illustrates that drug abuse during pregnancy is a serious issue.


Week Eleven


  • What were your attitudes toward use of substances when you were a child and an adolescent?

When I was a child/adolescent I always wanted to grow up so I could do the things that adults were aloud to do. I remember wishing I were 21 so I would be able to drink with my family and be able to do the things that my older cousins were doing. My mom was born in Germany (drinking age 16) and my dad was born and raised in Scotland (drinking age 18) so my parents always had a relaxed view on drinking and did not to pay much attention when I began drinking before I reached 21. Drinking for me was that “forbidden fruit” and I believe our society in America portrays alcohol in this way. This forbidden fruit of alcohol makes individuals such as myself break the law and when the drinking age is lower there doesn’t seem to be as much of a want to drink.

Growing up I was allowed to drink within my house during high school and I believe I was taught how to drink responsibly at a younger age than many other adolescents in America. My father who is a successful business man in Manhattan NY immigrated over to America at 24, and expressed to me that drinking in Europe was very different than America, and it was not until my 20’s when I visited Scotland and England that I realized what he was talking about.

During my travels throughout Europe there is a different view on drinking. Although there are similar issues with alcoholism, there seems to be less of a binge-drinking atmosphere. On any given day you can find an individual enjoying a pint of beer throughout the day, yet they can moderate drinking better than many Americans seem to do. Binge drinking in America seems to be out of control and I believe people drink here to get drunk, opposed to Europe where most (not all) drink because they enjoy the taste and appreciate the process of brewing beer.

Obviously not all Americans are the same with regards to drinking and I do not like to generalize but I believe having the highest drinking age in the world (to my knowledge) of 21 creates a certain amount of wanting the unreachable. I do believe there are good intensions to having a higher drinking age such as allowing brain development to happen, but when teenagers are hiding it from parents and lying about drinking causes many issues. If kids want to drink bad enough they will find ways to drink, and it often happens in unsafe environments.


  • What was your personal and peer group experience of substance use? How are your views the same or different now? What might it feel like to work with clients making different choices, or to encourage choices that you did not make?

I grew up in an upper class environment where alcohol was abundant and easily accessible with parents having large amounts of alcohol in the house. I believe in high school alcohol was abused by many individuals and I was apart of the “drinking scene” throughout my adolescent years. I do not believe my friends (besides one or two) had drinking problems and many went off to Ivy League or respected colleges. I believe I got my partying out of my system in high school and when I went off to college it was not an important aspect of my college life. I noticed many of my peers in college began drinking heavily because it was their first time away from their parents and they had this freedom that they never had growing up. All parents in my town was aware of kids drinking, and often times allowed it as long as no one was driving and everyone was drinking responsible.

Drugs on the other hand were viewed as bad in my town and was not viewed as acceptable. Parents viewed drugs differently than drinking and any kid caught with drugs was instantly labeled and parents often discouraged their children to hang out with drug users. The only prominent drug in my town growing up was marijuana, and many kept their distance when it was around.

I have different views of drinking now that I am in my mid 20’s and since it is not this forbidden fruit I do not think much of it. I still will drink with friends on weekends, however it is more of a social aspect rather than looking forward to drinking. I work with my adolescent clients/patients almost everyday who make poor choices with drugs and alcohol, and I think it is important for them to realize it is maladaptive. I could lecture them all day about the dangers of drinking, but it will not register with them until they want to change. I do not believe I necessarily made poor decisions with drinking, yet I can relate to my patients who are making poor decisions, and try to provide other viewpoints.


  • Who advised you about drugs and alcohol, and when? What was your response? What encouraged or discouraged use in the approaches you encountered? What do you hope to emulate or discard from your models?

At first the schools spoke with us about drugs and drinking, which in my opinion was used to scare us away from using drugs including cigarettes. I remember in 5th grade our health teacher making us pledge to never use any substances. After parents in our town were informed the schools spoke with us about drugs and drinking, my parents answered truthfully some of the questions the schools told us. I remember being confused on why the school would lie to us just to scare us away from drugs, and not tell us the truth and make decisions for ourselves. I can still remember feeling confused on what to believe about drugs, I was given information from people at school, and different information from my parents.

Although the school gave me information first I consider my parents giving me the right information, and trusting me that I would make the right decisions surrounding drugs. They did not want to scare me away from drugs, instead give me the right information so I could decide for myself. Since than I have noticed on many occasions people trying to scare kids and teens away from drugs, and I think we should educate them, rather than scare them away. The same should be said for pharmaceutical drugs, and in my opinion they can be more dangerous than illegal. The only safer aspect about pharmaceutical drugs is that we have a better knowledge about what goes into these drugs.

During my sophomore year in high school I shattered my collarbone and had nerve damage while playing lacrosse and I was given Oxycontin, which basically is a broken down form of heroin. I believed the drug was safe because a doctor gave it to me, but I was not told anything about the drug and how it would alter everything about me. I was unaware it was highly addictive and that I would not be able to do many cognitive tasks I took for granted. I now know that many times this drug is how people become addicted to heroin because it is a cheaper street drug that can be more easily accessible. Luckily I did not become addicted to the drug and was able to be weaned off of it while still remaining somewhat comfortable from the intense pain.

Week Nine


If you have been under a lot of stress, resulting in overuse of self-control resources, this fatigue may have led to ineffective coping strategies. Has this ever happened to you? What were the circumstances?


Throughout my life I have never been a stressed out person, and for a long time I believed I should have more stress about life. After being in counseling classes in undergraduate school and graduate school I have noticed that school is probably the biggest stressor in my life. Looking back on my past schooling I realized that I used sports to control my stress levels. Sports for me are an escape from reality, allowing me to focus on my breathing, goals, and physical state. Expending physical energy is a great coping skill and many aspects in the relapse prevention model carry over into sports. Besides coping skills, being apart of a sports team can provide motivation, positive emotional states, and social support.

After college sports I was able to play international lacrosse which allowed me to continue to use one of my favorite coping skills. While training with my team I broke my thumb for the fifth time, which required surgery. From this injury I still have pain and decided to retire. Since than I have picked up other sports as coping skills to high stress levels. I have found that when I become stressed out I need to get my pent up energy out and express it in positive ways. Since I do not play sports everyday after classes I have to find other ways to get my energy out after a tough day at work or school and I had to find alternative ways to get my energy out such as long boarding, working out, and doing yard work.

Of course there were instances when these coping skills just would not work and this led to ineffective coping strategies such as binge drinking at parties. College can be stressful for many reasons (finals week) and after this enormous amount of stress there would be parties to celebrate finals/ midterms being over. Although drinking alcohol is a coping skill, it is a maladaptive one that has the power to destroy lives. I am happy and fortunate that none of these parties has led to addiction or becoming hurt, however it seems it does happen to many college students. I still will have my nights out to bars after a stressful week of work, although I will use other coping skills to get my stress out before hand.

I believe I handle my stress levels in an effective way and I am able to be mindful not to let others influence my mood. Over the years I have learned that I cannot control others, and I try to stay mindful of my emotions. Controlling emotions is a major aspect of controlling stress levels, and I believe I have a good handle on my emotions. Although life is and can be stressful, I think it is to short to let outside variables control my life. When I become angry out of frustration I can normally talk myself down and rationalize why I may be feeling frustrated. Using this positive self talk and validation of the positive results I have accomplished helps me realize that if I do get a bad grade of loose a game, it is not the end of the world and I will learn from my mistakes and grow. Everything happens for a reason and whether it’s a positive or negative situation I can learn from it.

Week Eight


  • How does 12-Step facilitation of treatment relate to your personal theory of life? What parts could you integrate if desired?

When I first learned about the 12-step program during my undergraduate studies I was taught the main aspect was admitting to “a higher power” that you are helpless and powerless over alcohol. Through working in this field for over a year I have seen first hand the positives this can bring for many people. Religion can be an important tool for many people trying to quit drinking and using drugs, and many people find power having “God” behind them.

   The 12-step program does not relate to my personal theory of life, and I do not integrate many parts into my practice. I do not believe there is “but one ultimate authority” and I believe we are all in control of our actions, and have the power to quit if we truly want too. As a leader for my groups I do not consider myself at all a “trusted servant”. I do like the group unity principals, and believe it to be important for group members to support each other because it can be an extremely powerful tool to aid in abstinence from using drugs.

   I more closely relate to Rational Recovery (RR), which is an alternative to AA and other 12-step programs. Since I relate to cognitive-behavioral therapy I find RR helpful because it does not view alcoholism as a “disease” but rather a voluntary behavior arising from multiple self-defeating thought patterns. This type of recovery model places emphasis on self-efficacy with no considerations of religious matters. Although I do think there are drawbacks to this such as no use of “recovery groups” because I have found by leading group sessions the power of having support from others going through similar experiences.


  • How does 12-Step facilitation of treatment relate to your preferred counseling orientation? What parts do you see that you could utilize for treatment?

   The 12-step facilitation of treatment does not relate to my preferred counseling orientation and I do not use many if any of the steps when leading my therapeutic group sessions. I believe that every one is responsible for themselves and by changing maladaptive thoughts and behaviors each person will be able to grow and realize they are in control over alcohol, and they are not powerless. I believe people in recovery need to be empowered not through a higher power, spirituality, and admitting they are powerless, but through themselves and being self-reliant and empowered through positive cognitive and behavioral changes.

   As my readers could probably tell by now I am not a religious person and although I grew up attending church I do not identify with the religious teachings. I believe there are important messages by teaching religion, however when conducting my therapeutic group sessions I do not incorporate religion. While re-reading over the twelve steps I struggled to identify with any of the steps listed in page 241, and strongly disagree with many of the steps. I believe religion is answers to questions we don’t have answers too yet, and I am sorry if this offends my readers, but I believe we do not need to believe we are powerless and need to have a spiritual awakening. I believe we need to take responsibility for our actions, and if an addiction is causing harm in our lives and relationships than change both maladaptive thoughts and behaviors contributing to drug use. Many times drug use is a coping skill for various life stressors and obviously this negative coping skills needs to be replaced by a more adaptive and positive skill to get us past stressful life situations.

Week Seven

Choose one of the following perspectives and explain your position: “Do you support the use of pharmacotherapy in the treatment of addictions? If so why? If not, why not?”

When I first started working at Sheppard Pratt Hospital I was opposed to treating patients drug abuse by giving them prescribed drugs. I soon realized that many of my patients needed something to replace drug use and for many of them coping skills would not suffice. I recently had a 13-year-old patient who was addicted to cigarettes and was “unable” to get through the day without having nicotine and would become aggressive and violent because we do not allow our patients to smoke. This patient’s psychiatrist prescribed nicotine patches to combat that aggressive behavior that was eminent in the afternoon.
Throughout my year at Sheppard Pratt I have had numerous patients be admitted with many types of drug dependencies, and I have found that since each patient is different it is beneficial to listen to our patients’ beliefs regarding medication. In some instances it seems almost necessary due to extreme withdrawal, and various types of medication (methadone) can help with drugs such as heroin with withdrawal symptoms. It is because of my experience I can see some positives to treating drug dependencies with other drugs. I have found that a major aspect why drug users are unable to quit is because of the fear of withdrawal symptoms, so temporarily aiding recovery with another drug is beneficial.
I believe treating a drug dependency with another drug should be on a case-by-case basis since everyone experiences addiction differently. Although at first I was opposed to treating a drug addiction with other drugs, I have found through working in a mental health hospital that it can be extremely beneficial for patients/clients. As a treatment team our job is to help our patients get mentally healthy, and sometimes that requires using various medications to assistance them in the sometimes painful recovery process. If we as part of the treatment team withhold medications that would help our patients I believe that would be considered unethical. Our job is to help them through these difficult times and when medication is given to combat negative withdrawal symptoms there can also be a “placebo effect” where patients will feel better because they have taken a pill they believe to make them feel better.

Week Six

◦ A quote from your text states: “… we get so involved in the role of counselor that we sometimes forget the client inside us. It can become habit to separate ourselves from our clients with a sense of self-righteousness that we do not have the problems they do.” Do you see this tendency in yourself? How do you stay in contact with your inner client? What does that mean for you?

Throughout my short time in graduate school I have always been told that practicing counselors should seek counseling for themselves. Many professors expressed counselors should talk with other counselors and I believe this to be beneficial. During my undergraduate degree I took courses called Counseling Skills and Advanced Counseling Skills where I was able to partake in three roles; counselor, client, observer. I found it extremely helpful to step into each role and talk through any concerns we were having at the time. Although many of us had similar concerns over school and plans after graduation, I found it beneficial to express our feelings and get everything out in the open.

During this summer semester at Johns Hopkins I was able to take a group counseling class where we again stepped into multiple roles and discussed our concerns at the time. Everyone has a client inside them and it really helps getting issues out in the open, and although our counselors may not directly be able to help us, we often feel better after disclosing this information to others. It was nice to get back into the client role and remember what my patients may feel like during my therapeutic group sessions at my work.

I work at Sheppard Pratt hospital in a group counseling setting where my patients surfer from many psychological issues, but most of them have anger and behavioral issues. I can often identify with my patients because growing up I had trouble expressing my frustration in healthy beneficial ways. I often finding myself wanting to use self-disclosure but hold myself back many times to keep the focus on my patients. Although I do not feel I have these problems anymore I can still sympathize with my patients and rarely feel separated from them. I hope I will always be a kid at heart and I still enjoy many similar activities that I enjoyed as a child. I feel I can relate to children and this helps my patients feel safe around me to act how typically would.

Staying in contact with how others feel is a significant aspect of counseling, and when counselors get away from that they may act similar to a superior. I convey to my patients that I have the tools to help them grow; they just need to implement what I teach them to begin the process of self-awareness and change. I have always been comfortable around children and adolescents and I believe this came from having two younger brothers and teaching (coaching) lacrosse since I have been in middle school. This type of work feels natural for me, and I find joy in helping kids achieve their goals.

◦ What beliefs about yourself do you have that will allow you to find commonalities with your clients so that you do not see it as “us” versus “them”?

I have an optimistic outlook on life and through working in a mental health setting I have found that everyone has issues in their life, and with most children they are not taught how to cope with confusing feelings. I have learned even the most normal and competent children seem to have insurmountable problems that they need help figuring out, and as long as the counselor listens without judgment progress can be made. My patients always state they hate feeling judged, and they express feeling it from parents, teachers, friends, classmates, family, and when they are in this judgment free group room they express more than they would to their closest friends.

I feel I am my patients’ biggest supporter (besides family) and I will work as hard as I can to help them in any way they need. I also believe it might help I am still somewhat young (24) and many of my patients don’t view me as an “adult”. I believe being younger could help them feel more comfortable around me, allowing for more self-disclosure on their part. I also believe when I participate in “play therapy” with them in the gym such as basketball or throwing a football around helps them identify with me too. While some patients may not open up in a typical group therapy session, many times I notice I can gather far more personal information from them while participating in various sports.

I also do not put people into certain categories, and believe people are all relatively similar, everyone has similar feelings, wants and needs, and counselors should not treat clients or patients as less of people. I could have easily been in my patients’ shoes in a mental health hospital if I was in similar situations to my patients. In fact I admire many of them for how strong they are and many stories motivate me to keep driving in my life, because many of these stories really puts life in perspective. Be thankful for what you have and treat everyone how you would like to be treated. And as one of my favorite idols stated, “ The greatness of a man is not how much wealth he acquires, but in his integrity and his ability to affect those around him positively” – Bob Marley

Week Five

◦ Which of the foundational philosophies of counseling are you most comfortable with and why?

Last semester I took a class called counseling theory and practice, where I learned about many different therapeutic approaches. I was able to identify and take pieces from many different approaches that I thought would be helpful. I found each theory has different aspects that can be effective, yet none are perfect. 
The theory that attracted me the most is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). I believe I used many of these techniques on myself growing up and these experiences of changing my thinking patterns have played a big role shaping me into the person I am today. Growing up I remember having maladaptive beliefs, and I was able to stop comparing myself to others, which allowed me to become happy and self-confidant. At this time I was unaware of psychology and I was able to become the kid I wanted to, and did not let others influence my decisions. It is because of changing my thought patterns I was able to become happy with myself, and become confident in both school and sports.
CBT is a short-term approach that uses problem focused cognitive and behavioral intervention strategies that decrease maladaptive behaviors by eliminating the illogical thinking. This therapy focuses on life situations and helps people form adaptive meaning about themselves, others, and the world. The cognitive methods in this therapy include identification of distorted beliefs, and logical thinking of the evidence to refute these illogical core beliefs and move to more evidence based beliefs. This therapy identifies the maladaptive behaviors, emotions, and cognitions within people and replaces them with more adaptive ones. An example of how I was able to use this in my life was in high school where I would think “I will never be smart enough” and I would change my thinking to “ I can do this, I will figure this out”. When I changed these thoughts my actions followed, and instead of giving up and not trying, I would become determined and work hard to achieve my goals.

▪ Are you a hopeful person? Are you motivating and encouraging? Do you have a judgmental attitude?
I consider myself a hopeful person, and believe anyone can change for the better if they are willing to put in the effort. I work with children and adolescents with anger and behavioral issues, and I try to focus on the positives as much as I can. Many times my patients will become discouraged of goals when they do not fully complete them, but instead of focusing on where they went wrong I try to empower them and highlight the aspects they did accomplish. I have found that many of my patients have self-defeating beliefs that translate into many forms of depression. This depression can affect many aspects of their lives and I have found that they often discount the positives and dwell on the negatives. I believe focusing on the positives and being hopeful for change registers with my patients, and they begin to express a better attitude and a drive to change. This drive allows them to take charge of their lives. I believe I encourage my patients to want a better life for themselves, and teach different dialectical behavioral treatment (DBT) aspects that promote self-awareness. My job requires me to be motivating and encouraging and I enjoy helping my patients past difficult life situations.
Judgment is a part of everyday life, and many of my patients feel judged for a variety of reasons. The Sheppard Pratt staff stress that our groups are a judgment free zone, where our patients can express themselves and not feel judged. For many of them this is foreign because they are used to peers, classmates, and parents commenting and passing judgments on each decision and behavior. Although I would love to say I do not judge it is an aspect of life, and I try to remain mindful not to take things at face value. I have always been taught not to judge a book by its cover, and I try to stress that everyday with my patients.

My Addiction

I had a lot of trouble thinking of an “addiction” to write about and it was not until a classmates post that I found my inspiration. My addiction is thrill seeking, and whether it be cliff jumping, 60ft+ snowboard jumps, goalie in lacrosse, racing cars, or dirt biking I need the rush. This rush is unlike anything I have felt before and it is a feeling of being alive. Many people live safe and don’t push their bodies but I consider them just surviving, but I want to live. We only have one life so I try to spend it on doing activities I enjoy.

         Growing up my dad had many fast cars and seemed to buy a new one almost every year and would frequently take me on rides showing me how fast they could accelerate. I always shared this passion with my father and it has transferred into my adult life. My father and I will go to various driving tracks around the United States to drive exotic cars such as Ferrari’s and Lamborghini’s. This need for speed is a huge part of my life and it is my dangerous addiction.

         I was recently car shopping to lease cars and found the car of my dreams for the right price and now consider it the love of my life. I have always driven manual (stick shift) cars, but had to sell my last one due to a shattered right thumb, and was unable to drive manual cars for many months. I have always driven fast cars and prefer BHP (base horse power) over MPG (miles per gallon). I am also from European descent and my father emigrated over from Scotland when he was 26 years old. Because of this I have always had always had my eyes on European super cars. While car shopping I was able to find a great lease deal on the car of my dreams; a new 3-liter supercharged Jaguar XF.

         This car has really made my “addiction” prevalent and on many occasions I have found myself well over 120+ MPH, which has given me that high I always seek. Although I have hit around 170 MPH in a Ferrari, I have all my senses working overtime while driving 150 on highways. At these speeds it is very possible I could loose my license if I am pulled over, but I live in the moment and try not to think of what COULD happen. Luckily I have never lost my license before but I have had many close calls.

         I do not feel my addiction is healing any emotional wounds, I consider it aiding my in living my life to the fullest, and although I know many people wont agree with my decisions, its my life not yours. This addiction has cost me a few thousand dollars both in speeding tickets and insurance increases but it’s a major part of my life and I wouldn’t change it for anything.

         While thinking about treatment options I thought of various different things such as CBT, mindfulness exercises, buying a prius (never), or setting a limiter on my car. Everyone has something that makes them happy and feeling alive by going fast is my addiction. I do not want a treatment for my

“addiction” because it is not affecting my life in any negative ways. Money comes and goes but I will not let a few laws and tickets get in the way of me enjoying my life. I do not drive these speeds with other people in my car or other people on the roads because I do not want it to jeopardize the lives of others. Maybe one day I will slow down but for now it is all about life in the fast lane.Image

Week 3

What biases do you find in yourself about process addictions?

I think I had some skepticism about process addictions because there were no chemicals entering a person’s body to alter their behavior. Behaviors can become addicting because they stimulate and activate pleasure receptors in the brain. Although there is still debate surrounding whether a behavior can be diagnosed under the same criteria as a substance- use disorder, evidence has demonstrated both ingestive addiction and process addiction display similar characteristics (Capuzzi & Stauffer, 2012). Behaviors are addicting is because they stimulate/activate pleasure receptors in that individual’s brain similar to the chemicals in addictive substances. Since process addictions are behaviors rather than chemicals many individuals do not recognize their behaviors are affecting their personal lives until they hit rock bottom. Process addictions are also unable to utilize drugs such as methadone to reduce the effects of chemicals causing the addicting behaviors. 

Are there some behaviors your more readily accept or reject as being problematic or addicting?

Food addiction can be problematic because it is so prevalent in everyday life. This is because we need food to survive, and there can be grey area when diagnosing this as an addiction. It seems that with the increased obesity rate that food addiction is becoming more prevalent, however there is little talk about eating being an addiction.

I support local farms and do not eat food from most fast food places because of the negative health consequences that arise from eating the processed, hormone filled meat that comes from many places. I have a CSA (community supported agriculture) where I get all of my organic produce from and different farmers that raise their own livestock (all grass fed, no hormones) and I have noticed a positive impact on my health and mood.

This processed food that many people live off of does not give your body the sufficient nutrition it needs. When this happens people “feel” hungry because their body wants the nutrients and vitamins it needs to survive. These fast food meals cannot provide the proper amount of nutrition so the body keeps craving more food. This is where process addiction comes into play and the behaviors become “normal”

I also believe sex addiction would be a difficult addiction to diagnose. Sex is a basic human need and it has been hardwired into people’s brain. Just like other addictions sex produces a pleasurable feeling by releasing various chemicals in our brain. From our readings this week we have learned how a sex addiction can ruin a family and cause distress throughout the household. Sex just like other process addictions happens gradually and can become problematic because it can negatively impact relationships. 

What shapes your views of these processes?

I do not believe I have any preconceived notions of process addictions. Any activity can become an addiction if it is controlling their life and causing maladaptive behaviors. When people feel a sense of reward from participating in a task they begin to seek that stimuli when feeling distressed. When my patients describe their behavior they often downplay their addictive behavior, and it is the counselor’s job to come to a complete understanding of a behavior before making a diagnosis.


Are you more likely to call something an addiction if you are uncomfortable with the behavior or view it as undesirable or unhealthy?

Everyone is different and we cannot generalize behaviors because what may be problematic for one person may not be for another. In my opinion an addiction has to be almost controlling a persons life and when this stimuli is not obtained or completed this person becomes guilty and will further punish their body. I try not to judge any of my patients and although they are teenagers some of these undesirable behaviors do not meet the criteria for an addiction.

How might your own beliefs, morality, or spiritual beliefs shape your views of your client’s problems?

I have an optimistic outlook on life and was raised to be sensitive to other cultures. I believe anyone can change if they put the effort in and invest in their treatment. I like to look at the glass full (half water, half air) and try to make a genuine therapeutic relationship with my patients so they feel accepted and understood. There are always the patients who do not want to put the effort in and Sheppard Pratt becomes a revolving door for them. I feel I have been blessed with the life I live and I only want to help others find happiness and enjoy the short lives we are given. I encourage all my patients no matter how traumatic their lives have been and try to find positives in every situation. I am open-minded and not religious at all so I do not let my judgment get convoluted by religious beliefs. Although I am not religious I am open to all religions and I have seen the positive impact it can have with people struggling with an addiction. I have worked with teenagers from many different cultures, countries, and religions from working at Sheppard Pratt, and as long as a therapeutic relationship is present anything can be accomplished.

Week 2


◦   After reviewing the web references for this week, discuss what types of approaches are you more comfortable with?

    Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a short-term approach that uses problem focused cognitive and behavioral intervention strategies. The behavioral therapy decreases maladaptive behaviors by eliminating the illogical thinking patterns. At work I use Dialectical Behavioral Therapy with is closely related and shares similar approaches. CBT focuses on the clients’ life situations and helps them form adaptive meaning about themselves, others, and the world. The cognitive methods in this therapy include identification of distorted beliefs, and logical thinking of the evidence to refute these illogical core beliefs, thus moving to more evidence based beliefs. When used together these cognitive and behavioral approaches have been shown very effective for treating a number of different psychological disorders. This therapy identifies the maladaptive behaviors, emotions, and cognitions within people and replaces them with more adaptive ones. This is closely related to DBT where we will explore our patients interests and try to find adaptive “coping skills” to help when they go through difficult and stressful life events.

    I believe I could use many different approaches with clients/ patients in the future and I often find myself asking questions and using techniques that I have found interesting. I identify closely with CBT, however I do not just use this approach. I am open to trying new techniques and I have not come across any technique that I fully disagree with. Every approach has potential positives and negatives, and it is up to the counselor to decide when to use a different technique.


◦   What strengths do you have as an individual to assist someone similar to Sahira?

    I believe Sahira needs a counselor who will be open to listening to her story and not judge any past behaviors, and work towards a better future. I believe I create an open environment where my patients feel its okay to open up and tell their stories. I work in a group session and I always encourage discussion, and find it extremely beneficial when my patients give each other advice and ways to help their personal situations. I am an open person who doesn’t like to judge people because who am I to decide what is right and wrong. I also believe I make genuine connections with people allowing them feel comfortable to disclose their stories and experiences with me. People fascinate me and I always try to learn new information and ways of living.

    Although I have never been addicted to pain medication I have had to take drugs such as, OxyContin, Vicodin, and Morphine to manage my pain due to broken bones and nerve damage from sports. Although I do not disclose information about myself to my patients I believe it could be beneficial for Sahira to know she is not alone and “abnormal”. Many people take these drugs for a variety of reasons, and I think it could help her to understand that. Another way would be group counseling with others suffering from a heroin addiction. Since I work in a group setting I think I would be able to foster positive conversation within the group to help Sahira realize she is not alone and this addiction can be conquered.


◦   What are areas that you might feel you need to work on?

I believe I need to work on accepting I will not be able to work with every patient. I like to believe I can make a connection with everyone, and I learned firsthand that sometimes patients will encounter transference and I could remind them of someone in their life that they do not like. This can happen for many different reasons, however I am lucky to have a great team at Sheppard Pratt filled with many talented counselors so we can help as many patients as we can.

    Another area is trying to “save” my patients from their feelings. Many times when a patient is emotional telling their story I will want to help them stop crying, but I learned they need to sit with these feelings and experience them so they can eventually move past their negative feelings. Counseling is a learning process and one must be open and honest with themselves so we can help our patients/clients the best we can.