Counselors get a good rap, but it isn’t all sunshine in the discussion room. To be an addiction counselor is to be an addict’s lifeline. As a health provider, it’ll be your responsibility to uphold your addiction counselor certification while assisting with a slew of client problems.
Whether you’re helping with educational, marital, mental health, recovery or career issues, you’ll need to watch out for the five pitfalls experienced by most addiction counseling providers.
Pitfall One: Insurance Difficulties
Addiction counselors and those participating in managed-care programs may find insurance difficult to wrangle. You’ll need to handle paperwork and billing by yourself, and your counseling hours may tread into non-billable time periods. While some addiction counselors rely upon their clients to fill insurance claims, your success as a counselor relies upon paperwork and co-pays.
You should purchase billing software, and you should keep in touch with your insurance company as much as possible. Many insurance providers offer online billing options, which may be of some help.
Pitfall Two: Mental Health Difficulties
While you’ll be responsible for helping others, you may suffer mental health issues yourself. The life of an addiction counselor is a draining one. You’ll face emotional problems every day, scheduling appointments around a suffering user’s needs. Often, a psychological professional is needed to help an addiction counselor cope with ongoing emotional turmoil. To stay on top of your feelings, create healthy emotions and continue helping others, you’ll need a consistent outlet.
Pitfall Three: Difficult Training
Understandably, addiction counselors must be incredibly well-trained. This training doesn’t come easily, however, and it can often stress out potential providers well before they’re qualified to help others. Addiction counselors in training often face sixty hour work weeks alongside rigorous coursework.
The path is rewarding, but it’s certainly stressful. Your service commitments will need to be honored, and your personal life will still require check-ups. Those capable of achieving certification are often thankful for the hard work—but those in the midst of a heavy schedule may find great difficulty.
Pitfall Four: Confusing Work for Worth
As an addiction counselor, you’ll inspire clients, redefine lifestyles and fix broken relationships. Because of this, however, it’ll be easy to “fall in” to each client’s story. Your work is not your worth, but it can be misconstrued as such.
As a professional provider, you’ll need to separate each day’s work from your own ideologies. While most clients can be helped, some may be incapable of recovery. Your life’s worth isn’t dictated by its ability to help others—even if you’ve signed up to help them.
Pitfall Five: Assisting with Mental Disorders
While you’ll primarily assist with addiction, recovery, relapse prevention and life building, you’ll need to be prepared to help those with acute mental disorders. Long-term addicts often face psychological problems. Substance abuse is incredibly damaging, and it can create ongoing disorders in need of comprehensive support.
While you won’t be expected to uphold the practices of a therapist, you’ll need to understand the psychological crossover between mental assistance and addiction recovery. Often, long-term relationships are damaged, health problems create work problems and gainful employment is lost. The world of addiction is dangerous, and it requires a complex toolset to face.
Patients often face self-esteem issues, depression, and anxiety. A capable addiction counselor will be able to reinforce a positive image, replacing negative thoughts with constructive behavior. While years of training can assist your journey as a health provider, practical application is similarly important. Revitalize your clients; lives, and always stay updated with industry news. Your life as a provider is valuable—both to yourself and your clients.