How to Become a Rehab Therapist

How to Become a Rehab Therapist

Rehab therapists or counselors are people who help people with disabilities to live full and independent lives. Rehab therapists also help those people to accomplish their personal goals. Whether clients hope to return to a much-loved job or move into an apartment, rehab therapists help them acquire the skills and strategies they need to succeed. Rehab therapists also play an important role in raising public awareness about disability issues and achieving social justice for this undeserved population of people.

Rehab therapists quite commonly work with a wide range of people including:

  • People with a mobility impairment
  • People with a mental illness
  • People with traumatic brain injury
  • People with chronic disease
  • People with addiction and substance abuse
  • People with impairment such as blindness and deafness
  • People with language and communication disorders

Rehab therapists understand the social, emotional, and occupational barriers their clients face. To help people with disabilities especially those with addiction and substance abuse, rehab therapists need to explore what they need and prefer. In many cases those people with addiction and substance abuse need sobriety and ways to stay sober. Once that goal is identified, rehab therapists, work together with their client to develop necessary strategies of staying sober. This might involve role-playing, learning new coping skills, job modification and so much more. As needed the counselor connects the client with helpful organizations and community resources such as 12 step programs or outpatient programs. Rehab therapists also will work with employers to help them accommodate to on the job needs of people with disabilities.

So how do you become a rehab therapist?

  • Most vocational rehabilitation counselor jobs require a master’s degree in vocational counseling, rehabilitation counseling, or counseling psychology. A bachelor’s degree in social services, counseling, or psychology is a good foundation for this career choice. Graduate coursework leading to a master’s degree in rehabilitative counseling can typically be completed in two years. Courses will include disability studies, the theory and practice of counseling, psychology, rehabilitation, case management, and educational and community services. Before enrolling, students should check to see if the university or online program is accredited by the Council on Rehabilitation Education (CORE). A degree from a CORE-accredited program opens up more career options.
  • After completing their coursework, vocational rehabilitation counselors put in at least 600 hours of clinical training with a qualified rehabilitation counselor. Many schools help to arrange an internship or counseling job for their students.
  • Counselors can find employment without having a professional credential, but will broaden their opportunities by obtaining a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor (CRC) or Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) credential. Most state and federal rehabilitation programs will only hire CRC counselors, as will be the case with other select programs.
  • Another option is to be certified as a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC). This involves qualifying to take a state licensing exam (usually a master’s degree and a specified number of hours of supervised clinical experience) and passing it. Be sure to check licensing regulations for counselors in the state you plan to work as they vary greatly from state to state.
  • Good communication and problem-solving skills are required in order to work in counseling jobs, as well as empathy and the desire to help people fulfill their goals. Counselors must also have good listening skills, compassion, and patience while working with clients.

Negative People in Recovery

Negative People in Recovery

We all know those people who only have bad things to say. Who like to gossip about other people and seem to take delight in others’ struggles – those negative people in recovery. Or maybe you are the negative one among your group of friends and acquaintances. Just because someone has stopped abusing drugs and alcohol does not mean that they are now mentally healthy. There will always be negative people in recovery and it’s important to identify them if you want to be successful in your recovery.

Addiction and Negativity

People who abuse or have abused alcohol and other drugs often have an extremely negative mental attitude. Often times, we get caught up in the grip of addiction because of the negative experiences we have had in the past. As addiction takes root, we begin to feel a lot of shame and guilt about using drugs and alcohol thereby feeding our negative attitudes. Addicts then become trapped in a negative mindset and that way can continue to justify their drug using behaviors: by only seeing the bad things in life, they can then use these as excuses to abuse alcohol and drugs.

Dangers of Negative People to Those in Recovery

Once you get clean and sober, it is not only important to shift from being a negative person but to also identify and avoid negative people in recovery. This is because humans are social beings and therefore we have a significant impact on each other. The people you surround yourself with will definitely influence your success, or lack thereof, in sobriety.

Characteristics of Negative People in Recovery

Once you are aware of what we mean as being negative, it is important to be aware of negative people in recovery so that you can not only be successful at sobriety but also have an overall better quality of life. Now that you are clean and sober, you deserve to be happy and have a more peaceful life. Negative people in recovery can keep you from having this.

 Negative people in recovery tend to share the following characteristics:

  • They are pessimistic, in general, and especially about the future – “the glass is always half empty;” they expect bad things to happen to them
  • They don’t other people; always think others have an ulterior motive even when being extended help
  • They seem to lose friends easily; almost always have somebody in their life who they aren’t talking to
  • They blame other people for all the bad things that happen to them
  • They constantly criticize others and the world, in general
  • They tend to be passive aggressive or even openly aggressive
  • They blow things out of proportions (always have some kind of drama)
  • They enjoy hearing about other people’s misfortunes, such as when someone relapses
  • Negative people in recovery tend to be completely self-centered
  • They are easily offended yet are oblivious to the fact that they often offend or hurt other people

Resentments and Relapse

You may have heard this one quite a bit: holding on to resentments will take you back out (into active addiction). There is a lot of truth to those words of caution. It is important to let go of resentments in order to heal and be successful at sobriety. Negative people in recovery, although they may be sober for the time being, are like a ticking time bomb. They might be off the drugs and alcohol but they are emotionally unwell. They hold onto anger and resentment towards the people that they feel have wronged them. Negative people in recovery are bitter about their past experiences and are not willing to let go and forgive. They get hung up on focusing on other people’s faults and shortcomings but are unwilling to look at their own. And, even if they pass themselves off as being your friend, negative people in recovery resent the success of other people and this includes you. You need to have true and positive friends in your corner if you are serious about your success at recovery.





Q&A: What credentials do I need to be a recovery coach?

Q&A: What credentials do I need to be a recovery coach?

In most states, you don’t need any credentials in order to be a recovery coach yet. Although, if you want you can get your recovery coach certification by taking recovery coaching classes through some kind of recovery coaching program. Many states do offer courses in order to become a Recovery Support Specialist. This is not necessary for you to be a recovery coach though. You may find it easier to get a job as a recovery coach with some credentials though and the programs and classes to become a recovery coach are fairly inexpensive for what you are getting. There may come a time when recovery coaches are asked to have credentials before working with clients but it has not come yet. Part of this may be because a lot of what recovery coaches do is based on experience and not so much what they learn in a class. Either way the credentials won’t hurt if you want to be a recovery coach but not having them will not and should not hold you back from becoming what you want: a recovery coach.

12 Steps to a Relapse

12 steps to a relapse

12 Steps to a Relapse   

The 12 step model for addiction recovery have long been accepted by the addiction treatment community as a way to stay clean and sober in the long term. Another commonly held idea in addiction treatment is that relapse starts long before you ever pick up a drink or a drug. These two ideas come together in the 12 steps to a relapse.

The Alcoholics Anonymous: Big Book says, “What we really have is a daily reprieve contingent on the maintenance of our spiritual condition.” (pg.85) This means that even if we have worked all 12 steps, we can still relapse if we do not maintain our spiritual condition. If we become comfortable in our recovery and “rest on our laurels” we run the risk of relapse.

Sometimes old patterns of behavior begin to come back. This is where we may start to see a relapse begin. We may start working the 12 steps in reverse. This is what is known as the 12 steps to a relapse.

It begins when we get too busy to carry the message. Maybe we have replaced recovery with work, gym or a relationship. We get overconfident. We have less contact with other recovering alcoholics and meeting attendance starts to decline. This is the first step in the 12 steps to a relapse.

Next we may stop praying or meditating. We no longer seek conscious contact with a higher power. It may be subtle at first. But over time, we no longer pray or meditate at all.

The next step in the 12 steps to a relapse is the unworking of steps 10-4.  We stop taking inventory and we stop making amends. Our character defects come back, and we are unwilling to have a higher power remove them. We lose sight of the moral inventory we once made and begin to repeat the same behavior we exhibited during addiction.

The 12 steps to a relapse continue when we take our will back. Not just a little, as we may have done in the past, but the whole thing. We start to try to run the show.  The power we once believed  could restore us to sanity is now out the window. We begin believe we can do it ourselves. We believe we now have the power, and we can manage our own lives. These are unworking steps three, two, and one in the 12 steps to a relapse. At this point, we are likely to pick up a drug or drink. We likely feel irritable, restless, and discontent. The “hole in the soul” has come back, and we seek other things to fill it.

The 12 steps to a relapse can be avoided if we are constantly moving forward and growing in our program. This is why it is especially important to have a home group and get to know the people in it. Others can sometimes recognize when we have become lacking in our program or when we have begun to work the 12 steps to a relapse. They may be able to catch it before it is too late.

Morality and Addiction

Morality and Addiction

Morality and Addiction

Morality and addiction has long been a cause for discussion. Despite the fact that the AMA has acknowledged that alcohol and drug dependency are diseases over a half a century ago, many still view addiction as a moral failing. This stigma has created barriers for those who may otherwise seek treatment.

Morality and Addiction: Changing Explanations

As human beings, we strive to explain the world around us and our place in it. It is part of human nature and it makes us feel more in control of our circumstances. We do it individually, as well as on a larger scale. Explaining and classifying situations, behaviors, and other people can be beneficial. It can help us identify other people and it provides a framework for understanding complicated issues. But sometimes our classifications are too rigid and our explanations just aren’t right.

In recent years, the biological and genetic model of addiction has taken precedence. Most experts now agree that addiction is a disease, and that it requires treatment like any other day. But one of the first models for addiction, and one that set the tone for the stigma that still persists today. This was known as the moral model.

Morality and Addiction: The Moral Model

The moral model considers addiction to be a result of human weakness. It is considered a defect of character. It doesn’t recognize biological or genetic components to addiction. As a result, it offers very little sympathy to those who suffer from addiction, since it is considered a problem of their own making. The implication is that addiction is the result of poor choices, and that addicts have a lack of willpower or moral strength needed to make better choices.

Morality and Addiction: Impact

The accepted relationship between morality and addiction led alcoholics and other drug addicts to be grouped with others who had demonstrated “moral failings.” This includes other socially undesirable behaviors and situations like crime, poverty, sin, domestic violence, and laziness. Naturally, treatment for addiction was aimed at punishment rather than healing. This idea still persists today in the infamous “War on Drugs,” which advocates punitive punishments for those involved with drugs rather than rehabilitative methods.

The old view of morality and addiction began to lose influence when religion and theology began to fade and science and medicine became more refined. Obviously, this view hasn’t completely faded, as the war on drugs still rages today. Also, doctors began to realize that  people with “good” morals are just as likely to use drugs and alcohol. This is when the “disease” model of addiction was born.

Morality and Addiction: The Disease Model

The disease model goes in the complete opposite direction in terms of morality and addiction. It views addiction as a chronic, relapsing disease, and not a moral failing. Thus, addicts do not deserve to be blamed for their disease any more than a cancer patient would. Critics of the disease model believes that it takes responsibility away from the addicts and instead characterizes them as victims.

There may never be a universal consensus on the idea of morality and addiction, but the disease model has proven far more effective in eradicating drug-related problems. Rehabilitation, not punishment, seems to be the answer,

What is recovery capital?

Recovery Capital

What is recovery capital?

Recovery capital is the sum amount of resources that are necessary to begin and stay in recovery from addiction and alcoholism.

What is recovery?

Recovery has many definitions depending on who you talk to. In the United States, the Betty Ford Institute Consensus Panel defined recovery as a voluntarily maintained lifestyle characterized by sobriety, personal health and citizenship. The most important part of the definition of recovery is the fact that it means having a sense of wellbeing, a high quality of life, and some sort of community engagement or sense of citizenship and some kind of sobriety. Whatever your definition for recovery is the point is that recovery is an experience and an improved life not a goal. Recovery is living a life based on principles such as hope, choice, freedom and aspirations. Recovery is a process not a state of being or end goal. Recovery is an ongoing journey to improve the state of your life.

So recovery capital is the sum of resources that help to start the journey or process of recovery. Resources that are a part of recovery capital can include parents, families, partners, friends, and neighbors. It also can refer to the person’s willingness to be sober, their commitment to their community, and the amount they engage and participate in value systems.

There are four parts of recovery capital; social capital, physical capital, human capital and cultural capital.

  • Social recovery capital is the sum of resources a person has due to their relationships with other people. This could mean support from and commitments to groups of people. Family membership, friendships, commitments and obligations to 12 step meetings etc.
  • Physical recovery capital is the resources that are tangible. For instance, physical recovery capital would be property or money that increases the options in recovery for this person. An example would be being able to afford to move to a different location or afford a better treatment center.
  • Human recovery capital is resources such as skills, health, aspirations, hopes and personal resources that can help someone prosper. Things such as the amount of an education a person has and how intelligent they are. The reason this is a part of recovery capital is because these things can help with some of the solution based parts of recovery.
  • Cultural recovery capital includes a person’s beliefs, attitudes, and values that tie them to social conformity and their ability to fit into dominant social behaviors.

In order to assess or see how much recovery capital a person has the focus is on the enmeshment of social, human and cultural recovery capital.

How much recovery capital a person has can determine how easy or how hard of a time they may have getting going on the journey into recovery. This does not mean that someone who has less recovery capital can’t get sober it just means they will have to build more recovery capital for themselves over time. Everyone through their journey in recovery builds more and more recovery capital whether they begin with none at all or only a little. It is possible for everyone to have enough recovery capital to begin recovering and stay recovered.

Advice for people with less than 30 days in Recovery

First 30 days of recovery

Advice for people with less than 30 days in Recovery

There’s a reason that most drug rehabs will recommend you stay in treatment for at least 30 days, and why 12 step programs tell you to go to 90 meetings in your first 90 days of recovery. The first few months after quitting drugs and alcohol are often the hardest. During this time, addicts and alcoholics are at the highest risk of relapse. Here is some advice for people with less than 30 days in recovery:

Advice for people with less than 30 days in Recovery: Take care of yourself

One of the biggest reasons for relapse for people with less than 30 days in recovery is that they do not feel well. When your body is not physically fit, it can drain you psychologically and emotionally. Take care of yourself in the first couple months: eat good food, get plenty of rest, and exercise. Make sure you are washing your hands often to protect yourself from other people’s germs. Don’t let yourself get too hungry or tired. Make your health your top priority. If you do get sick, take it easy. Realize that a lot of what you are feeling is due to a temporary illness and that you will feel better soon.

Advice for people with less than 30 days in Recovery: Go to meetings

Meetings are very important for people with less than 30 days in recovery. They allow you to build a support system, be accountable, and talk to other people in recovery. It also occupies your time. Having too much free time in early recovery can be a recipe for disaster. Boredom can very quickly lead to thoughts of using. Get a home group and a sponsor as soon as possible. Volunteer for a service commitment like making coffee or greeting people. Service is one of the best ways to meet new people and strengthen sobriety through helping others.

Advice for people with less than 30 days in Recovery: Tell on yourself

It is very common for people with less than 30 days in recovery to have thoughts of using. The best way to combat these thoughts before they turn into actions is to get in the habit of telling on yourself. As soon as you have these thoughts, call someone and tell them. Or raise your hand at a meeting and share. Not only will you open yourself up to people that can help, by just saying these things out loud, you can often stop the thoughts of using from consuming you. This can also work for any behaviors that you know are detrimental. When you lie, ‘fess up immediately. If you are having thoughts about breaking rules or doing other things that aren’t right, just tell someone. Remember, your addiction wants you to keep quiet. It wants you to justify your negative behavior. It wants you to isolate yourself from your support system. Do not let it. Do not trust your thoughts in early sobriety. Always talk to someone about how you are feeling and get input before every decision. If you are hesitating about talking to someone else about something you’re doing or planning to do, that should be an indication that it is not the right thing.

Acceptance in Recovery

Acceptance in Recovery

Acceptance in Recovery

There are a lot of things in life that just have to be accepted for what they are. The ability to deal with the things that are out of our control is known as acceptance. Acceptance in recovery is paramount to the health and happiness of recovering alcoholics and addicts. It allows them to focus on the positive areas of their life where they can be the most helpful.

Acceptance is literally defined as the act of taking or receiving something offered. In human psychology acceptance is used to describe a person’s ability to handle their reality agreeably. Acceptance means to accept the reality of what is happening and not feel the need to alter it in anyway nor protest it.

Acceptance in recovery is important for so many reasons. In order for an addict or alcoholic to find happiness in recovery they must have acceptance. In fact it is so important there is whole paragraph about it in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous. It starts off by saying “acceptance is the answer to all my problems today.” Not only have that but AA and NA 12 step fellowships used the serenity prayer. The serenity prayer has one line about “accepting the things we cannot change and having the courage to change the things we can…” Here are some reasons why acceptance in recovery is so vital to the recovering alcoholic and addict:

There are some things in life that the alcoholic and addict will not be able to change. If they refuse to accept those things then it will only lead to suffering for them and suffering can end up causing an alcoholic or addict to relapse.

  • It was an attempt to deny, protest, or not accept the reality that caused most alcoholics and addicts to use in the first place. Addiction and alcoholism are great ways of how trying to escape the reality of a situation doesn’t work.
  • Addicts and alcoholics are great at using a perceived unfairness or unjustness to go out and get high or drunk. When addicts and alcoholics use acceptance in recovery they will see the world for what it really is and that is that the world is not out to get them.
  • The addict and alcoholic can waste a lot of time being angry or trying to change situations that can’t be changed. That is wasted time that could be used to help others which is the primary purpose for most alcoholics and addicts.
  • Learning acceptance in recovery also teaches the addict and alcoholic humility. Humility is one of the key spiritual principles in recovery and within 12 step fellowships. Those who are humble usually are happier and face less strife in the world.

Addicts and alcoholics can also through acceptance in recovery cope with anything that is going on in their life without using, regulate strong and intense emotions, live in the present moment, suffer from far less stress which also is a relapse factor, have a positive attitude, and will be able to build deep and meaningful realtionships with other people.

“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change

The courage to change the things I can

And the wisdom to know the difference.”

Working Through Abandonment Issues in Your Recovery

Working Through Abandonment Issues in Your Recovery

Abandonment happens when an important relationship ends without shared grieving and without mutual agreement for the relationship to end. An example of abandonment would be someone you love leaving you with little or no warning. If you have abandonment in your past it can definitely bring up feelings you may have buried deep down once you begin your recovery. So how do you begin working through abandonment issues in your recovery?

Feelings of abandonment are often triggered when someone is rejected by someone they love. Other triggers include social situations such as not being invited to an event by a friend. These triggers leave someone feeling inadequate, lonely, rejected, and betrayed. The first step in working through abandonment issues in your recovery is to recognize your triggers.

For someone who is struggling with abandonment issues they may have feelings of fear and insecurity. They often can end up creating a self-fulfilling prophecy which means they are so afraid of being abandoned that it ends up happening again because they are subconsciously attracting someone into their life who will abandon them. Having abandonment issues can affect a person’s ability to have a happy and healthy relationship. Fear is at the root of abandonment issues in your recovery and if you are working a strong program a fourth step and lots of prayer can help with this fear.

According to psychotherapist Sue Anderson there are 5 stages of abandonment. The first being feelings of shock, panic and despair the second being feelings of yearning, obsessing and longing, the third is looking for ways to blame yourself for them leaving, putting the person on a pedestal etc. The fourth stage is the rage stage where unhealthy thoughts of revenge or retaliation are common. It is important to work through abandonment issues in your recovery by allowing yourself to go through the five stages of abandonment. These stages are normal and the reactions are normal because they lead up to the fifth stage of abandonment.

The fifth stage is lifting. Life begins to take up more space in your mind and the person who left you less and less. You may become more open to the possibility of love again. In order to work through abandonment issues completely and totally most people have to come to terms with the original cause of the feelings which usually happen in childhood. A shift in perspective and thinking has to occur and the old patterns of thinking which now gone leave room for new beliefs are and thinking to come in. Self-love and getting a relationship with a higher power is another great way to work though abandonment issues in recovery and also are recommended by a therapist Laura Frisbie. A higher power will never abandon you. In fact C.S. Lewis says “we should never put all our happiness into something we can lose” and you can’t lose a higher power.

Working the 12 steps and building new relationships with individuals such as your sponsor are great tools the program offers and recovery offers to work through abandonment issues.


How to practice patience and tolerance in your recovery

Patience and Tolerance

How to practice patience and tolerance in your recovery

Since I came into the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous, I’d heard people say “Be careful what you pray for.” I didn’t truly understand what that meant until the day I’d prayed for patience and tolerance. Because, you see, my higher power doesn’t just grant these things to me. Instead, I was put into all kinds of situations that tested my patience and tolerance. On the day after I prayed for patience and tolerance I got into a series of situations that were almost annoyingly comical, given what I had prayed for:

1. I got into a traffic jam when I was already late.

2. I wound up getting in the longest lines possible at the grocery store. Every single person in front of me needed a price check, was using multiple coupons, or wanted to dig out exact change from their coin purse.

3. My internet went down at work.

4. My car’s battery died, and I had to wait an hour and a half for someone to find jumper cables and help me get it started.

5. When I got home, the apartment complex maintenance men were in my apartment, fixing a leak, and I had to leave for 2 hours so they could finish.

6.  My sponsee called and cancelled plans with me for the 5th time.

By the end of the day, I was chuckling to myself. I hadn’t been given patience and tolerance; I had been put in situations that had let me practice patience and tolerance in my recovery.

Patience and tolerance can be tough lessons to learn for a drug addict or alcoholic, at least it was for me. I was used to the instant gratification that could be achieved by taking a drug or drinking. I wanted what I wanted, and I wanted it now. There was never any thought of being patient or tolerant. If my drug dealer wasn’t answering the phone, I’d call him 87 times until he did. If I needed money to get the drugs, I figure out some way to get it, and god help you if you got in my way. The only time for anything was “now” or “five minutes ago.” I was selfish and self-seeking. I was intolerant of anyone who did not agree with me, particularly if it had to do with my drinking or drug use. Practicing patience and tolerance was the last thing on my mind.

Having had a spiritual awakening, however, I am now trying to live a different way. I am trying to practice spiritual principles like patience and tolerance on a daily basis. I try to empathize with others, and feel compassion towards them and their situation, which is a lot easier now that I am not numbing my emotions with drugs and alcohol. Mostly though, I realize that when I lose my patience and tolerance, it is usually because I am trying to control situations that are out of my control instead of just accepting what is.