What is Alcohol Counseling and Does it Really Help?

Alcohol counseling, especially when used in combination with rehabilitation, medication, a strong support system, or group recovery programs, has the potential to not just change your drinking habits, but also your relationship with alcohol. Qualified mental health professionals are trained to provide the support you need to get and stay sober. The road to recovery may be a long one, but it isn’t a path that anyone should have to travel alone.

At what point does drinking too much become alcoholism?

It is estimated that at least 38 million US adults drink too much. However, despite alcoholism, or Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD), being characterized by the over-consumption of alcohol, simply drinking more than you know you should is not enough to earn you the diagnosis. A patient may only be diagnosed with AUD if excessive, uncontrolled drinking is causing harm, disruption in the patient’s life or relationships, or is causing other distress.

Your drinking problem may be alcoholism if you experience two or more of the following.

  • You feel that you are not in control of your alcohol consumption
  • You have found it difficult to stop drinking even when you know you have had too much
  • You have been unable to cut back on your drinking even when you have wanted to or tried to
  • You experience strong cravings or a deep desire for alcohol
  • Your drinking, or its after-effects, is causing problems with your family, work, or academics
  • You often choose to drink rather than engage in activities that you enjoy or are important to you
  • You find yourself in dangerous situations during or after drinking
  • You no longer experience the same effects as you once did with your usual number of drinks, or you have to drink more than you used to in order to experience the same effects
  • You experience negative symptoms when the alcohol’s effects begin to wear off, such as shaking, sweating, nausea, irritability, difficulty sleeping, anxiety, restlessness, or depression.

Whether or not your issues with alcohol rise to the level of an AUD diagnosis can only be determined by a mental health professional. Still, anyone who feels like their drinking has become a problem may benefit from speaking to a counselor about their alcohol usage. Even brief counseling may help to reduce the amount of alcohol you consume.

What is alcohol counseling?

One treatment method for alcohol addiction or alcohol misuse is alcohol counseling. Often used in combination with other treatments such as medication, rehabilitation, or addiction support groups, alcohol counseling aims to uncover and address the underlying causes of an individual’s unhealthy relationship with alcohol through regular meetings with a qualified mental health professional.

A counselor may use any of several therapeutic strategies to help their client identify triggers for their drinking, reduce the stress that may lead to drinking, and follow through with their plan of treatment.

The first session with an alcohol counselor will likely consist of conversations about your drinking history, the frequency and volume of your alcohol consumption, your personal history, and other topics related to your background and current problem. After that, you will meet regularly with your counselor for treatment and support. While everyone’s needs are different, your alcohol counseling will likely work to address:

  • new skills needed to follow through with treatment and reduce drinking
  • how to build and maintain relationships and social supports for long-term recovery
  • setting and achieving reasonable goals
  • identifying and managing emotional triggers that have previously led to drinking
  • support and encouragement as you work toward recovery

What counseling strategies are used to treat alcoholism?

As with all conditions, there are several different ways a counselor or psychotherapist may approach the treatment of alcoholism. Alcohol counseling generally uses traditional talk therapy. Qualified counselors most typically follow one of the following therapeutic strategies when treating alcohol-related problems.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Christian CounselingCBT is the most commonly used and effective therapeutic strategy for a large number of mental health conditions, including addiction. This counseling method focuses on unearthing and healing the underlying mental and emotional processes causing your addiction.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for alcoholism works from the understanding that thought patterns and internalized stories about our history, identity, worth, relationships, etc., motivate our current behaviors. The ultimate goal of all CBT counseling is to understand and amend these thought patterns and internal stories so that individuals can respond to formerly triggering situations and emotions in healthier ways.

CBT for alcoholism often focuses on:

  • discovering unhelpful and distorted patterns of thinking
  • developing an awareness of what situations, thoughts, and emotions, typically lead to drinking
  • practicing new ways to cope with triggering situations (without alcohol)
  • working to determine the best path to recovery
  • learning to deal with difficult emotions rather than burying or avoiding them
  • building self-confidence
  • cultivating healthy self-advocacy and communication skills

Motivational Enhancement Therapy

This therapeutic strategy may be briefly used at the beginning of treatment to help cultivate a stronger desire and determination to work toward recovery.

Using motivational enhancement therapy, a counselor may work with their client to identify the pros and cons of treatment and recovery, create a manageable plan of treatment, bolster self-esteem, and practice any skills needed to achieve treatment goals. Strong motivation for change is an essential part of any successful recovery.

Dual-Diagnosis Therapy

This therapeutic strategy is employed when the individual struggling with alcohol abuse issues also has other mental health conditions. It is common for people suffering from anxiety, depression, or other mental health concerns to self-medicate with alcohol or other substances. Dual-diagnosis therapy for alcoholism treats both alcohol addiction and the co-occurring mental health condition.

Marital or Family Counseling

This method of counseling can take any number of forms but always has the goal of repairing and strengthening family connections so that the counselee can have a healthier support system to aid their recovery. With marital or family counseling, your counselor will work with you and your loved ones to heal broken relationships. The counselor will also be able to help your family find tangible, helpful ways to support you in your treatment plan.

Holistic Approaches

These approaches all focus on cultivating a balanced, healthy lifestyle to support an individual’s mental and emotional health. This can include anything from reflexology to mindfulness, yoga, and more. The ultimate goal of all these approaches is to promote overall health through balanced living. Used in combination with other, more data-driven treatments, holistic therapy may help support an alcoholic’s recovery.

Does alcohol counseling work?

In short, yes. According to an alcoholism treatment guide produced by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), “Research shows that about one-third of people who are treated for alcohol problems have no further symptoms 1 year later. Many others substantially reduce their drinking and report fewer alcohol-related problems.” Getting help is the first step to getting better.

Speaking with a qualified counselor may be just the push you need to start moving toward recovery. If your relationship with alcohol has begun to affect your life, relationship, job, or academic performance, don’t wait to speak with someone about it.

Whatever the reasons behind your drinking, alcohol counseling can help you better understand and cope with the internal and external situations driving you to misuse alcohol. Don’t wait until the problem gets worse. Schedule an appointment with your local counselor today.

References:Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020, January 31). “Alcohol Screening and Counseling.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved June 16, 2022, from https://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/alcohol-screening-counseling/index.html

American Addition Centers. (2022, June 6). “Counseling for alcohol addiction: Alcohol Counseling.” Alcohol.org. Retrieved June 16, 2022, from https://www.alcohol.org/treatment-types/counseling-programs/

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2021, August). “Treatment for alcohol problems: Finding and getting help. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.” Retrieved June 16, 2022, from https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/brochures-and-fact-sheets/treatment-alcohol-problems-finding-and-getting-help

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What are Some Common Codependency Symptoms?

This brief article looks to explain what codependency is and how you can recognize it by understanding the various codependency symptoms. As a starting point, it is helpful to define codependency, which is understood to be a nuanced and multifaceted emotional and behavioral condition that makes it more difficult to have a healthy and mutually satisfying relationship.

Whenever the dependent party has a relationship, the effects of codependency can affect it. The symptoms of codependency are not limited to romantic relationships but may be seen in the dependent party’s relationships with their co-workers, children, siblings, parents, friends, and significant others. Research finds that while it is not frequent, it is a regular finding that the dependent party also suffers from addiction or a chronic mental illness.

Codependency symptoms are not fun.

Abusive, one-sided, and emotionally destructive are descriptions given to a codependent relationship. For this reason, should you suspect that you or perhaps someone you love is in a codependent relationship it will be beneficial to browse the contact details of the trained counselors in our directory and receive helpful resources.

General background on codependency.

Codependency symptoms will often not be found in isolation. As codependency is a behavior that is normally learned during childhood, codependency symptoms will also be seen in the relationship style of at least one other family member. Growing up in a dysfunctional family is a typical route a dependent party takes before displaying the same relationship style they have been taught.

The term codependency was initially used after long studies of the relationships held by people who were addicted to alcohol, and then a codependent personality was limited in its use to only describe the friends, family members, or partnership of an addict. Currently, the term describes a codependent person from any dysfunctional family.

A dysfunctional family is understood to be any family whose members suffer from emotions such as shame, anger, fear, or pain that are denied or ignored because of underlying psychological barriers. The problems may originate with a mentally or physically ill family member, an abusive family member, or a damaging parental relationship.

Dysfunction is the failure to show the characteristics or fulfill the purposes accepted as normal or beneficial to the family unit. And so, the dysfunction here is that the emotions of shame, anger, fear, pain, or others are not addressed or confronted, and are therefore not processed. Instead, the emotions are stifled and the needs arising from them are ignored.

A typical codependency symptom is that those suffering from it commonly believe their needs do not matter, or that they are the source of the issues in the family. Similarly, the affected party focuses their attention on the person who is an addict or ill.

The treatment of emotions and needs is taught to those around them and, if not dealt with, the relationship dynamics continue into adulthood. These adults are often then in relationships that bring out repeated intimidating, unsatisfying, and confusing feelings.

Codependency symptoms.

These various behaviors and thought patterns are typical signs of codependent behavior:

  • A need for control.
  • An abnormally strong need for the approval or recognition of others.
  • Deception.
  • Denial.
  • Fearful of being rejected, judged, or abandoned.
  • Issues with intimacy or relationships.
  • Looking after the feelings of others.
  • Low self-esteem.
  • Obsessions.
  • Poor boundaries with others.
  • Strong emotional reactions, an anger that seems ever-present.
  • Struggle to make decisions.
  • Struggle to properly identify or communicate thoughts, feelings, and needs.

Get help to diagnose and treat codependency.

If you are looking for help to deal with codependency symptoms or diagnose codependency, then why not browse our online counselor directory or contact our office to schedule an appointment? We would be honored to walk with you on this journey.

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Common Causes of Body Insecurity

We are not born with body insecurity. We are born not even paying much attention to our bodies except for what we can do. You have seen babies who stare in wonder at their hands and laugh (or cry) when they fall while trying to learn to walk.

It is much later that environmental factors often combined with a history of mental illness (family or individual history) can lead to body insecurity.

Common Causes of Body Insecurity

The causes of body insecurity include the following factors:

  • Judging people based on appearance.
  • Bullying during childhood about weight or appearance.
  • Verbal abuse as an adult about weight or appearance.
  • Toxic relationships where your weight or appearance was used against you.
  • Social media pointing to an “ideal” body type.
  • Well-meaning people who want you to “be healthy” and point out flaws.
  • People close to you who obsess about their bodies and diets.
  • Childhood with a role model who always dieted or voiced their fears about their flaws.
  • Wanting to feel accepted.
  • Perfectionist attitudes where you feel that you must be perfect to be loved.

Most of these factors are environmental. Even if your body insecurity stems from something that happened in the past, you can still overcome it by taking small steps in the right direction.

Overcoming body insecurity.

To overcome body insecurity, identify what factor(s) influence your thoughts and emotions.

Is it a toxic relationship? You may need to take steps to remove yourself from that relationship. A counselor can help you set boundaries and learn to value yourself again.

Do you tend to judge people based on their appearance? Ask yourself why. Is there something missing from your own life and it makes you feel better to compare yourself? Counseling can help you pinpoint what is missing and how to keep from making assumptions about others.

Do you feel depressed about your appearance after scrolling through social media? You may need to take a short break from social media platforms and see how you feel without it. If you notice a change in your mental health for the better, then that may be a sign that you need to manage your time on social media better.

If your body insecurity issues stem from the past, then you may want to consider counseling to help you move forward. Long-ingrained negative thoughts can be tough to beat without professional help. A counselor can assist you in overcoming long-held beliefs.

Stopping the cycle.

Negative thoughts, obsession over flaws, heightened emotions, and harmful behaviors feed the body insecurity cycle. For example, if you are overweight and feel self-conscious about your size, you may have thoughts like, “No one wants to see me wearing this. I’m too fat. People ignore me because of my size. I’m hideous.”

These negative thoughts leave you feeling hopeless, sad, and depressed. You begin to cry and resent being made to go to an event. You might cancel and stay home, feeling like a failure and missing out.

Counseling can help you break the cycle. You can learn to identify those negative thoughts and reframe them before they alter your emotions. You can change the behavior surrounding those thoughts. Just because you have a thought does not make it true. Learn how to challenge those intrusive thoughts.

Contact our office at San Diego Christian Counseling today to schedule a session with a counselor in San Diego to learn more about Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and other psychotherapy techniques used in overcoming body insecurity.

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Bible Verses about Fear: Using Scripture to Overcome Anxiety and Worry

Fear is a complicated emotion. Fear can protect you from danger, kicking your fight or flight mode into effect. However, living in a constant state of fear is toxic. It is harmful to your brain and your body. Consider the following Bible verses about fear to help you overcome anxiety and worry.

Whether you have developed a mindset of fear from past trauma or the accumulative stresses of daily life, the Bible has some words for you about complicated fear.

Anxiety and fear.

Anxiety is closely tied to fear. The feelings spiral into one another and complicate each other. Jesus has words to say about this:

Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest? Luke 12:22-26, NIV

Take time to pray and journal about your feelings. What are the worries and fears that you have? Where did they come from? What is the worst possible outcome and what is the best possible outcome?

By spending time asking and answering these questions, you build pathways to trust in God. When you feel those fears rising you can bring them to God in prayer. Expressing your anxiety and fear clears the path to trust.

Bible Verses about Fear

Joy and fear.

So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Matthew 28:8, NIV

Fear can be mixed with good feelings. Joyful anticipation, like a child excited for their birthday, is a good thing. Your emotions can be mixed and that is okay.

When you find yourself with mixed feelings take a few moments to ask why. See if there is an underlying reason for your fear or history that makes you feel this way. Separate the fear from the joy by careful thought, so that you don’t unwittingly let fear take over.

Peace and fear.

Fear may seem like the opposite of peace, but the actual opposite is contentment. You can feel at peace even in situations you feel fear.

Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?” Hebrews 13:5-6, NIV

Contentment and gratitude are clear ways to combat the fear that seeks to control your life. When you realize that you are okay, you are safe from danger, you can find peace in the care that God provides. Fear tries to steal your hope and trust in God.

Take a few minutes to think about the ways that you have seen good things happen in hardship. This reminder can ground you when fear wants to uproot you.

Love and fear.

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us. 1 John 4:18-19, NIV

Fear is often rooted in a trauma of some kind. Perhaps you experienced abandonment. Your life may have been endangered in some way. Maybe your emotions were minimized or neglected. Whatever brought fear into your life, finding love will be a part of your healing.

This love is not of the erotic or romantic type. It can be the platonic love of friends who show up when you ask for help. It can be the love of caring for the needs of your body, with rest, nutritious food, and exercise. The love of God is healing, with no expectation of return, no punishment will be inflicted.

Find the people who love you without expectations. That love creates safety, and after living in fear safety is a beautiful gift.

Christian counseling for anxiety and fear.

If you’re looking for additional support beyond these Bible verses about fear, schedule a visit with a counselor at San Diego Christian Counseling to talk about the fears you have. The conversation and insights may provide you with comfort and courage going forward. Your counselor may be able to recommend treatments for trauma, anxiety, and stress. Be open about your fears, and your counselor in San Diego can find the right treatment for you.

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