Having been an addictions counselor over the past 30 years, I have learned that when treating addictions of all kinds- drug, alcohol, process (like gambling), there is not a ‘one size fits all’ approach. At times, I have had to become very creative, to get the results my clients and I wish for. Along with traditional individual, family, and group talk therapies, I have found some alternative approaches to addictions to be very helpful. This is the first part of a 3-part blog series on new approaches to overcoming addictions that I have found to be particularly useful for clients.
First of all, I view addictions as a problem stemming from the subconscious mind. We all have wider facets to our minds, and the subconscious is one facet which must be addressed if one is to overcome this problem. The subconscious is the collection of every thought, emotion, and experience we have ever had in our lives, and it starts filling up from the first day of our earthly existence. If one wants to truly get over an addiction, then dealing with this part of the mind is essential. If one were to visualize the mind as an iceberg, the subconscious mind is the MUCH BIGGER part beneath the surface. Our habits and addictions, in fact, all of our mental and emotional problems, have been forged in this part of our minds from earlier experiences. The subconscious communicates in the symbolic language of pictures and images, for example, when we dream.
I use ‘cutting the ties’ visualizations (or guided imagery) developed by the late Phyllis Krystal, a spiritual counselor, her daughter, Dr. Sheila Krystal, a clinical psychologist, and their colleagues, to help people address the subconscious aspects of their addictions. Another way to think of visualization is ‘self-hypnosis.’ Many clients are pleasantly surprised to learn just how easy it is to use these techniques on their own to help them re-program their subconscious minds. This method is simple and effective. These visualization techniques have endless, useful applications for individuals.
Most psychotherapies only address the ‘surface’ level of the mind. They don’t get to the root of the problem in the subconscious mind. It is like cutting off a weed at the ground level, only to ignore the roots where the weed just continues to grow, unnoticed at first.
Call today at 630-799-0100 if you would like to learn more about how alternative methods, such as visualization, can assist you or a loved one in cutting the ties to any addiction.
Jeff Lucas, LCPC, CADC
Dunham Counseling Center