Addiction is often considered an actual condition, as though it was a disease or illness of sorts. Others claim that everyone has full control over the addiction they got themselves in, and should all be able to stop – without medical help. Depending on how you see it, there is one consensus that seems to be prevalent: an addiction is when you consume something or engage in an activity that can harm an aspect of your life, such as your health, your work, your social life, your finances, your relationships, etc. Although it is generally physical, activities such as gambling, sex or compulsive shopping counts, too. And the purpose is often much more psychological than for the actual pleasure of the consumption; it alleviates stress and puts what I call a ‘plug’ on our emotions, at least temporarily, meaning that any undesired emotion is withheld for the time of the use or the activity of the addiction.
However, as with any form of psychology work, some therapists are against using the negative format to heal the ailment that one is going through. Patricia Henrie-Barry, Ph.D tells us how she believes that changing the perception helps heal the patient.
Gratitude, which she believes is part of the reason why addictions start in the first place, is actually a normal and healthy behaviour when it is not used in excess. This includes, but is not limited to, the odd glass of wine one uses to relax, the food consumed and thoroughly enjoyed, and that scarf you just had to buy. This is all considered as entirely sane.
Then, the psychologist tries to put their focus on what the patient does well and gives him/her the power to stop blaming others. They are, after all, humans, and can make mistakes. They have to take responsibility for their actions and start the release of the addiction by visualising themselves without it.
The use of labels is discouraged. Therefore, patients are not ‘addicts’ they are just trying to stop a bad habit. Focusing on strengths, especially those that will help conquer their addiction, is reviewed together. They write up a list of goals they wish to attain in their life. Quitting smoking could very well be in your list, along with that new job. By staying positive, you have much more chances of succeeding.
Does this sound like therapy to you? Me neither.
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