IntroductionThe ability to apply psychological knowledge to the spiritual, and spiritual understandings to the psychological, can only enhance our work as helping professionals. Our clients also struggle with integrating these two domains, and it is not uncommon to encounter recovering persons who hold strong and prejudicial views about the spiritual, the psychological, or the scientific. Spiritual concepts such as forgiveness, fellowship, and admitting powerlessness can be reframed through psychological concepts to facilitate understanding between helping professionals and step-program participants (Skinner, 1987).
DiscussionThe professional counselor may be more likely to work with persons in recovery who are uncomfortable with step programs because of the unabashed spiritual component. Considering incorporating elements of step programs in treatment planning for these individuals may expand the repertoire of viable approaches. Individuals not involved in a step program will need structure within which to develop new, counteractive habits (Skinner, 1987). Behavioral programs, such as contrading and cognitive restructuring, can provide effective avenues similarly created by affirmations and ritual in step programs.
Within the structured counseling relationship, specific relapse-prevention skills and strategies can be included and modeled.
The importance of specific step-program tenets can be bolstered for the skeptical participant by sharing the empirical support related to such prescriptions. For example, though the language of forgiveness from a spiritual perspective ("Let go, let God") may be unpalatable for some recovering persons, it appears to represent an important treatment domain.
According to Gilligan (1982) when individuals are open to the idea, concurrent involvement in a step program or a similarly fashioned program should be seriously considered as a treatment recommendation or requirement. Assess the need for social support beyond what is provided in the treatment relationship or the recovering person's natural environment. Social support is the most empirically validated component of addiction treatment. Particularly if counseling is individual...