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Archives » CCAV Yarra Valley Discussion Group

--> Meeting dates and reports 2004

Starting time 7-30pm
Address upon inquiry through 

09/03/04 - John Haartsen - Couple Counselling 
11/05/04 - Theadora Wallace - Drug & Alcohol Counselling & Family Support
13/07/04 - John Stayte - Are we Christian Counsellors or Counsellors who happen to be Christian? (Notes not available)
12/09/04 - (Archives not found)
08/11/04 - (Archives not found)

Graeme Dawson
Manager- Valley Care
0409 517273

11/05/04 Theadora Wallace - Guest speaker at the CCAV Yarra Valley Discussion Group

Topic: Helping Drug Addicted People and Supporting Their Families

Theadora Wallace spoke about the difficult problems of drug addiction. She told of recently setting up Mary of the Cross centres to help people addicted to drugs, and their families. These centres are at Noble Park, Yarraville and Fitzroy and are supported financially by the Catholic Church and the government.

Summary Notes of Talk

Families of addicted people often encourage their relative to seek help but the person on drugs may not be motivated. In this case, the family which is normally highly motivated needs to be encouraged to have as good a life as possibly in these difficult circumstances. They encouraged to refrain from supporting the drugs use behaviour and rather, give support to the withdrawing behaviour. They should try to get to know what it is like for the addicted person.

The Nature of Addiction
The person using the drugs often thinks something undesirable will happen if they stop using the drugs. Over time, the addiction becomes so strong that the person can become physically sick when withdrawing. People become addicted simply because a substance is readily available, or maybe because of the urge to take risks or to seek relief from pain. Intravenous drug taking has a more immediate effect and the person may practice this if there is an intense urge to alter their emotional state quickly - self-medicating with a drug for depression for example. There is also a stronger biological vulnerability in some people than in others. The early stages of drug use may be euphoric, but later can come doom and despair. The hope of positive feelings may lure the person into continuing to use, and as time goes by, to try something heavier to get the elusive positive effect.
Drugs can temporarily take the user away from an overwhelming sense of despair brought on by negative emotions such as anger, guilt, shame, frustration, insecurity etc. However, when the drug is removed, the person is likely to feel all those problems again, whereas the family may believe that the user is over their drug problem and expect them to act 'normal'.

Stages of Recovery
Withdrawal is part of the process in getting the drugs out of the system. This treatment should be seen in much the same way as dealing with a bad stomach infection. The symptoms need to be treated.
The ex-user should be encouraged to think about how he or she will spend time. They should be encouraged to organise their days in the same way that a depressed person might need help in this area. If they can't think of something pleasurable to do, they need to be encouraged to do it just for the sake of it, depending of course on how well they are.

Family Behaviours that Perpetuate Drug Abuse
- rescuing/enabling behaviour
- helping the person to escape consequences of negative behaviour
- carrying responsibility for the person
- scolding, nagging & patronising
- focusing on the drug use rather than the negative behaviour
- not having clear boundaries
- not caring for self

What is Helpful?
Adopt a no-fault, no-blame relationship
-listen in a non-judgmental way
-create clear boundaries
-pay attention to the behaviour rather than to the drug use
Provide support for well-ness, not support for drug use.

A helpful book is 'When Someone You Love is Addicted to Alcohol or Drugs' but Jim Maclaine (Bantam). ISBN 1-86325-275-4

Further Power Point Notes from Theadora:

Family behaviours that tend to perpetuate drug & alcohol abuse:
1/ rescuing and enabling behaviour
2/ letting them escape the consequences of their negative behaviour
3/ worrying for them or carrying their responsibility when they should be carrying them
4/ giving excuses for them; lying for them to get them out of trouble
5/ scolding, nagging, moralising, patronising responses to their drug use
6/ over focusing on the drug use rather than on the disruptive negative behaviour
7/ not having clear boundaries with clear consequences
8/ neglecting other members of the family
9/ neglecting self care

Counsellors guidelines:
1/ Address the guilt, shame and self blame felt by family members
2/ Increase understanding of the emotional dynamics of drug and alcohol abuse 'Chronic Emotional Negativity'
3/ Educate about drug and alcohol use and what the recovery journey looks like
4/ Investigate family behaviours that perpetuate the drug and alcohol abuse
5/ Encourage beliefs and behaviours that enhance recovery
6/ Increase awareness of the needs of all family members
7/ Find meaning and purpose in life for family members
8/ Provide useful drug and alcohol information regarding referral and network support

Mary of the Cross Centre
7 Brunswick St
Fitzroy VIC 3065
Ph: 9495 6144 Fax: 9495 6166
Email: twallace@maryofthecross.org.au 

Helen McAlley / Graeme Dawson

09/03/04 A Brief report on the talk on 'Relationships' given by our guest speaker Mr. John Haartsen

Working With Couples

Working as a Couple
At our Yarra Valley CCAV discussion group meeting on Tuesday, March 9, 2004, our speaker John Haartsen told of the work he and his wife Margie conduct as a ministry in their home to married couples. They don't call in counselling and they don't advertise. Nevertheless, the couples they help often mention their work to other couples who in turn seek their help.
John and Margie have many years of experience working with couples on Marriage Enrichment weekends. They like to work together because they find if one has run out of ideas, the other will often come up with something helpful.
Every married couple is different and you cannot have a set plan when dealing with them. However one can have guidelines - the following may be helpful.

1/ Expressing Grievances
In the early stages they believe it is important for couples to express their grievances to each other in order to feel that they have been heard. John and Margie then try to focus on establishing an attitude of good will between the partners. They suggest couples treat each other at least as politely as they would treat the bus driver.

2/ The Third Party
If a third party is interfering in the marriage, it is important for the partner who has this attachment to break it off before they can go any further. The couples need to have a strong commitment to each other and to working together. John and Margie try to build hope into each session.

3/ Pain and Fears
Couples often feel the injustice of the other's actions, but John encourages them to focus on the emotional aspect of the pain rather than the injustice. Every conflict is an emotional issue. Sometimes the partner is not aware of them pain that the other is going through or has caused, so an informed awareness can foster closeness and a greater understanding.
It is not enough to merely identify the pain. The cause of it needs to be addressed. The root of all conflict is fear. Couples need to understand their fears, e.g. Being rejected or devalued (thinking for example: 'I'm just a nobody'). Often when these fears come out into the open, there is a very positive response to each other.
John and Margie like to examine with couples the source of these fears as a first step toward self-awareness. This may take many sessions to work through. John also spoke of the power of 'patterning' in a person's life (how we were taught to behave as children). He said that he was taught a strong work ethic for example. These patterns may influence our marriage and need to be reflected upon. John believes 95% or more of pain is based on the past.

4/ Deciding to Love Anyway
John and Margie believe that it is important to get the couples to act in a loving way towards each other regardless of their feelings, which often leads to insights into their own problems.

5/ Spiritual Issues
John spoke of relating to the couples where they are at spiritually. For couples with a fundamentalist faith in God, they would use the couple's faith and scripture in talking with them. Where there has been to Christian training, they would speak of the Spirit within. John believes that we need to be aware that making a Christian commitment does not mean that we do not have to work on issues in our lives and the couples need to know this. They will pray with people if it is appropriate. Sometimes one partner will find comfort in the Christian faith and will try to push it on to the other. This pressure may cause the other partner to become hostile.

John and Margie believe forgiveness is a key factor in marriage

Those working with couples need to love them and see the image of God in them. John believes that the more we allow the Spirit of God to invade our lives, the more we will be able to see God in others. Every person has within them a desire to be good and we need to keep this in mind as we are working.

6/ Counsellors
John believes that the majority of counsellors initially go into counselling training with unresolved issues of their own. While for the counsellor, past difficult experiences can help us to develop empathy with the clients, we don't have to have had these to empathise. The danger with our own un-resolve is that it can cause us to concentrate on our own problems rather than those of the client. He also discussed self-disclosure and its limits as a boundary issue for the counsellor. Self-disclosure may be appropriate if it can help a client gain an insight into this or her own problems.

Helen McAlley / Graeme Dawson
March 2004.

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Focal Point Yarra Valley 2009