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The Dilemma for a Two Hatter October 20th, 2011 posted by: to Professional Round Table

Question/Comment:

What are the potential challenges of therapists who are recovering from an addictive disorder attending meetings where their clients past, present, or future, may attend? We would like to hear from all professionals regardless of whether or not they have personal recovery experience.

Question posted by LCCS Staff

LCCS Response:

There are a great many opinions about this issue.  Some will maintain the position that the client has a right to attend a 12 Step recovery meeting without the distraction or confusion of having their therapist show up with a problem.  Others will support the idea that a therapist should forbid a client from attending the therapist’s “home group” because the therapist is entitled to get well in the safety of the anonymity of his or her own recovery group.

I believe that every addicted person should have the right to attend any meeting that he or she has met the eligibility requirements to attend.  If a recovering therapist accepts a client for an initial session and acknowledges an affiliation with a particular 12 Step group then he or she has surrendered their right to anonymity and as such should not force the client to avoid meetings that will intrude on his or her privacy.  I recognize that it can be a challenge for a recovering professional to be an honest and contributing member of a 12 Step meeting that client’s might attend.  Some will argue that it could threaten the professional’s quality of recovery to be inhibited by the presence of clients at meetings but it does not have to be that way.  I have found that the greater threat to recovery that professionals must face is working in the field of addictions treatment in the first place.

It is easy, when you are working in the therapy trenches, to see the problems you are helping your clients with to be far more significant than your own.  In fact, the focus on the problems of others day after day could leave you with the perception that you do not have any problems.  Far too many professionals working in the field of addiction treatment succumb to a case of terminal uniqueness and drop out of recovery all together and some become empty enough to relapse.  None of us is immune to relapse and all of us could develop terminal uniqueness for one reason or another.

I have found that the safest place for me to be is the meetings were I first embraced recovery with the “willingness of a drowning man clinging to a life preserver.”  I was willing to learn without regard for who the teacher was.  I have paid the membership requirements to attend many different 12 Step groups and would fight or the right for any man or woman to attend any meeting that they might find hope in – even if it is my home group.

We would like to hear from you about this issue and develop an open forum to discuss some of the challenges that you have face and how you have coped with them.

Sincerely,

John V. Leadem

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