Don’t Use the ‘Liar’ Label: Try Creating Safety First
By: Laura Hughes
Those who are addicted to drugs and alcohol can lie, sometimes in an outright fashion and at other times, by omission. It is easy to label them ‘liars’, yet counselors need to consider their own role in creating an atmosphere in which clients can feel like they are not free to tell the truth. Lies are a two-way street. To stop dishonesty, we clients need to trust us enough to know that we will not judge, criticize or blame them. Often, they are already battling intense feelings of guilt, shame and self-hatred and the thought of others ostracizing, punishing or judging them because of their addiction, can be too much to bear.
There are many ways that counselors can create a more honest environment. They should welcome their clients warmly and use the right communication skills when sessions become tense. Counselors should make the right choice when it comes to the words they use, their body language and their tone of voice, so that clients do not feel defensive. The ultimate aim is to make clients feel like they are part of a team heading for one very important goal: that of addiction recovery.