Dear Dr. Galardi:
I am a clinician working at a treatment facility that primarily addresses chemical dependency. I don’t want to give too many details because I need this to remain anonymous. I have been working in the recovery field for over twenty years. I feel dedicated to my work and to the residents but our facility was bought by a large corporation and is now being run strictly as a business.
I don’t feel like they care about relapse prevention with the clients at all. In fact, I would submit that they want the clients to relapse so they will come back to our facility. I have seen certain practices administered that foster dependency on the staff. I have asked my boss for the opportunity to run a group that focuses on their jobs and potentially stressful times when the client returns to their life. He rejects all of my ideas if they run at all counter to the rigid program that they have in place. What should I do? Is it time to quit?
Frustrated and Depressed
I empathize with you and commend you on wanting to truly assist in the recovery and relapse prevention of those you serve. Change does not come easily when corporate policies are in place. Your boss’ hands may be tied from the powers at be above him.
The key to making gradual change may be subtle. For example, perhaps you might try weaving one of the techniques you want to use that is future focused into the groups you are working with. You might throw out questions to the group that invites a discussion about discovering life purpose. Carl Jung spoke about how important it is for an individual to hear the call of his/her soul. See if that works. If you find that you are still not expressing yourself creatively on your job then you might think about starting a group at night for people in early recovery at a place you rent space and charge them for your time.
Dear Dr. Toni:
I am a certified drug and alcohol counselor and have been working in a facility for 5 years. I am starting to get bored with just running groups and am thinking about going back to school to get my master’s degree and become a psychotherapist. I think I would like to have a private practice and be able to take insurance. I know this could take some time so am also considering becoming a sober living coach which has very little training but does not have the same credibility as someone who is licensed nor can you take insurance.
I have gone back and forth on this issue. Can you advise me?
Jason (not my real name)
You don’t give your age. This I think can be a factor in looking at this decision, given the economic times we are in. Yes, you will not be able to accept insurance but the constraints now with insurance companies make getting a decent wage (factor in what a master’s degree is going to cost you) difficult at best.
The recovery field is now expanding to include so many different professions in after care. If you are entrepreneurial, putting a program together that includes you as a sober coach as well as collaborating with a clinician and nutritionist that caters to the upper income strata for after care could be lucrative. Having a license has its constraints because all treatment we engage in is subject to the ethical guidelines of the board of behavioral science examiners. Good or bad, coaches do not have a governing body.
It never hurts to take a course in recovery coaching and see if you like that person’s program. It also doesn’t hurt to take one graduate course in psychology at a school that would allow you to do that. See what inspires you. You shared that you were bored with your job. Notice what parts of working in the recovery field that you like and what parts you don’t like. If you are bored with listening to people’s complaints about their lives, I would not suggest becoming a psychotherapist. At the end of the day, scan back like it is a movie in your head, only notice what things you did that you felt enlivened by. If it feels difficult to synthesize how the data all fits together, work with a therapist or vocational repurposing coach to discover what your passion is.
Dr. Toni Galardi is a licensed psychotherapist, career coach, public speaker, organizational consultant, and the author of the book, The LifeQuake Phenomenon: How to Thrive (not just survive) in Times of Personal and Global Upheaval.
To submit questions for “Ask the LifeQuake Doctor” or if you would like to consult Dr.Galardi for phone coaching, she can be reached through her website at http://www.LifeQuake.net or 310-890-6832.