The primary step to becoming an effective addictions counselor is that you must be very, very quiet and listen. If you are really considering becoming an addictions counselor there are certain things that you have understand. Above all you are not be a rescuer, an enabler, or a therapist.
In essence you are a mirror of your client; an emotional mirror for the person coming to you for help so they can allow their own feelings and thoughts to emerge and they can hear themselves talk about their problems.
This is a primary way for them to develop possible solutions. The client must make their own decisions---that is not your role. You are to be an active listener; a facilitator. Below are four steps to listening to your client.
1. You must honestly want to hear what the client has to say and you must take time from your schedule to spend with this person. If you cannot take time to listen, tell the client that you cannot and refer them back to your supervisor or to another counselor.
2. You must genuinely accept the client's feelings regardless of how different their feelings may be from your own or how you feel this person "should" think or feel or act. The client owns his/her thoughts and feelings; they have a right to those. It is up to you to show respect for those thoughts and feelings in a non-judgmental manner.
3. You must trust the client's ability to solve his/her own problem and consistently reinforce this belief to the client. Otherwise, he/she will reinforce a negative feeling they already have that they are incapable of solving their problems.
4. You must appreciate the idea that feelings are constantly changing and what appears to be a problem of tremendous magnitude at this hour or on this day may change very quickly.
Your effectiveness with your client will depend largely upon the relationship you have with that client.
To recap the above in becoming an effective addictions counselor, you must be a very quiet listener and not a rescuer, enabler, or therapist. You must want to hear what the client has to say and make time to hear is. If you cannot, contact your supervisor. You must always accept the client's feelings; they own them, not you. You must show respect for those feelings. You must believe in the client's ability to develop a resolution to their problems; you are a facilitator. And you must understand that feelings constantly change and what appears to be a magnanimous problem today may change very quickly. And most of all: Be patient... Very patient!