So, what is an addiction counselor? This is an excerpt from Sokana:
A drug & alcohol counselor is a trained professional who works with addicts to help them better understand and overcome their addictions. Drug abuse is an epidemic all over the world. Many of those who face a daily struggle with addiction eventually seek out help.
Counselors seek to find what triggers an addict’s behaviour in order to help them eliminate such triggers from their life. They take detailed notes which helps to form a better understanding of each person’s unique situation. They ask appropriate questions and offer advice as to which approach is best for treating a particular problem. A drug & alcohol counselor is trained to recognize attitudinal barriers which may inhibit a person’s ability to successfully overcome their addiction. They then work to help addicts remove those barriers.
The main thing an addiction counselor does is listen. Most people with an addiction problem haven’t talked about their problem due to shame and fear of judgement. When a person reaches out for help, a professional counselor offers a safe, non-judgmental sounding board for the person. When someone talks to another person who is understanding and knowledgeable, the solutions often appear within the person with the problem. The counselor usually provides some guidance, but doesn’t tell the client what to think or how to act (of course there are rules for every program of recovery because they’re necessary for the good of everyone in the program, but a person in treatment isn’t given a list of behaviors they must take in their personal life — it wouldn’t work even if we did — in fact, most addicts would likely do the opposite if they thought the counselor is trying to control their life).
A good addiction counselor will provide information about addiction, and the counselor will ask questions that usually help the client find the answers that suit their situation. There are many aspects of addiction that are true for every addict, mostly physiological facts, but the road to recovery is different for everyone. An experienced addiction counselor will allow the client to find his/her way to recovery. The client doesn’t have to like the counselor, and the client doesn’t have to experience some magical connection to the counselor. The client simply needs someone competent and knowledgeable who can listen and ask the right questions.
I have seen charismatic counselors whom everyone loved, and one would think from appearances that this counselor is more effective than others, but unless the charismatic counselor knows how to listen and ask the right questions, the results aren’t likely as good as a competent counselor with a good understanding of addiction with less flair and likability. Likability is not a liability — it can help to get someone to open up, but competence, knowledge and compassion are sufficient for a good addiction counselor.