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Individual counseling in replacement of AA

Old 03-18-2014, 11:17 AM
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Individual counseling in replacement of AA

My AH wants to start attending counseling on his own with a new therapist. He had a bad work trip last week and drank A LOT. He won't go into details but I know there's something going on. I know that when I did speak with him, he seemed very distant and groggy and out of it and seemed surprised to even be on the phone. He even missed his outgoing flight and got stuck for a whole day at the airport. Which is so unlike him, quite frankly.

Anywhoo, he says AA is still not for him. He is looking into therapy again but I have to ask: how effective is it in the long term if there is no spiritual recovery program?

As for me, I am really feeling good. Working my own program, connecting with old friends and new ones. Trying so hard not to isolate(seems to be a habit of mine and I've had to really take a look at this). I've taken up running(ok, I can only do 3/4ths of a mile at a time but it's a start) and I am rehab'ing my elbow due to tennis elbow. I am working A LOT with my son on schoolwork, setting up checklists and teaching him new organizational skills, etc.

Even though I've put off the separation, I am learning that I am still able to find peace and serenity despite how my marriage really is. I am still working on squirreling away money and I have a friend who is helping me put a resume together, too!
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Old 03-18-2014, 11:23 AM
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Well...I think that there are plenty of people who find recovery outside of AA. People who are atheists, or who work a different program, etc. That said, I would be highly suspicious of counseling with anybody except a trained/certified addiction counselor.

But I suppose the bottom line is what (if any) actual results you see. Until then, keep working that program! You are doing great!
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Old 03-18-2014, 11:34 AM
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Sounds like you are doing great! And 3/4 of a mile is huge to me... I can not run to save my life, lol.

Originally Posted by lizatola View Post
Anywhoo, he says AA is still not for him. He is looking into therapy again but I have to ask: how effective is it in the long term if there is no spiritual recovery program?

I can't comment on how effective counseling is as a replacement to AA as I have no experience with either program. Just really wanted to say that I really think spiritual recovery is more about the individual and how hard he/she works it as opposed to what type of program & tools they use... Alanon has really helped me. I wouldn't trade it for anything... but I really feel strongly that I was already on the path to spiritual recovery before I started alanon. Counseling helped, too. I think of these things more as tools to aid me in my recovery. Doesn't matter how many sessions of counseling or how many alanon meetings I attend, if I'm not working it, I'm not going to recover. I'd think it would be the same on the AA side. So the question isn't whether your AH can be successful with counseling instead of AA, it's whether your AH is really ready to work it? Or, did he just have another crisis that has him making empty promises to you (& himself?)
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Old 03-18-2014, 11:40 AM
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I think I've said before that while I've never seen anyone get sober outside of an AA-type program, there was a time when I would have said "You go, man!" if AXH had said he'd quit drinking by going down to the river at full moon and throwing a coin over his left shoulder.

That is -- any attempt is a good attempt. Even if it fails, he will know one more thing that doesn't work.

I think counseling can be an integral part of recovery. If I look at my own recovery as a codie, I have really benefited from individual therapy, but I can't say how much it would have helped without Al-Anon.
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Old 03-18-2014, 11:43 AM
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I think any recovery can work, it is a matter of how badly they really want it. I think for so many alcoholism is a cover up of underlying issues. Maybe if he really puts his heart and soul into counseling he will treat the underlying issue also and not feel the need to drink. It just really depends on the person and their mindset I believe.
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Old 03-18-2014, 12:28 PM
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Originally Posted by lizatola View Post
....but I have to ask: how effective is it in the long term if there is no spiritual recovery program?
I think the bigger question is: how effective is it in the long term if the person of interest has no real desire to address the REAL problems & embrace what therapy has to offer?

I think if he really meant it, he would find assistance in either AA or therapy or a combo of both. Historically he's all for therapy while he's in crisis & then proceeds to find fault with the therapist, etc. as he returns to his "normal" feeling of control, then refuses to return to therapy at all, right? (or insists that THIS therapist is bad & he needs someone else?)

But until he humbles himself & admits the scope of his problems he's just chasing his tail, isn't he?
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Old 03-18-2014, 12:42 PM
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Totally agree with Firesprite.

Additionally from my RAH experience, he went to addictions counselor who started working with him and my RAH insisted on of some kind of drug to stop his cravings (didn't work), then they did some anti anxiety meds which helped a bit.

The counselor suggested/recommended AA in addition to counseling. She helped him find some meetings where my RAH felt comfortable as he felt he needed to be with other "professionals". Anyhow he went and by however it works, it helped him be accountable. He since stopped seeing the counselor but goes 2x weekly to AA and hasn't drank in over a year.

I'd stay out of whatever thoughts your AH has, it's his responsibility and it's so easy to get caught up in the later blame of "but you said...." when they are not taking responsibility to stop their drinking.

Glad you are feeling good.
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Old 03-18-2014, 01:18 PM
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Originally Posted by FireSprite View Post
I think the bigger question is: how effective is it in the long term if the person of interest has no real desire to address the REAL problems & embrace what therapy has to offer?

I think if he really meant it, he would find assistance in either AA or therapy or a combo of both. Historically he's all for therapy while he's in crisis & then proceeds to find fault with the therapist, etc. as he returns to his "normal" feeling of control, then refuses to return to therapy at all, right? (or insists that THIS therapist is bad & he needs someone else?)

But until he humbles himself & admits the scope of his problems he's just chasing his tail, isn't he?
Yes, this! I don't truly know his heart nor is that my business really. It really will come down to how hard is he willing to work.

You know, the other question I have is: am I willing to stick around and see if it does work? I know that sounds silly but I think a lot about how much water there is under the bridge and what he was like even before the drinking started. I've changed and I just don't see eye to eye with him about much of anything. Not sure if we can even start a new relationship even if he does find recovery.

And, as you said, he's chased his tail before. I don't know what actually happened, I didn't ask. I just know that he thinks he needs help. I'm truly staying out of it. I was just asking for people's experience with using therapy alone to find recovery.

For me and my recovery, I've been in individual counseling now for 2 years, been going to Al Anon for just over 2 years, and am back to attending church on a regular basis. My weeks consist of talking to my sponsor regularly, calling a few Al Anon friends during the week to check myself and my own motives as I go through my week, and a weekly Bible study group where I have found great support, as well. But, I am a woman and I know that men don't feel the need to reach out at such a deep level. Maybe therapy is all that is needed? Either way, I am so glad I found Al Anon and have such a great sponsor, too! I am going to get a foot massage later today.....anybody else? LOL!
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Old 03-18-2014, 01:36 PM
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A few thoughts:

This sounds like what my STBXAH does, says something that sounds good enough without actually committing to changing his life.

Your AH, he's a narcissist, and true NPDs don't get anything out of therapy at all, *if* they even go, which they usually don't because they don't want to see unflattering pictures of themselves.

I'm surprised you're asking at all, Liz. You know the answer to this one. All of your therapy and Al-Anon and spiritual work gives you the answers. I would love it if you found a way to trust them without clearing them with us first. You've come a long way, girl.
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Old 03-18-2014, 05:44 PM
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Originally Posted by Florence View Post
A few thoughts:

This sounds like what my STBXAH does, says something that sounds good enough without actually committing to changing his life.

Your AH, he's a narcissist, and true NPDs don't get anything out of therapy at all, *if* they even go, which they usually don't because they don't want to see unflattering pictures of themselves.

I'm surprised you're asking at all, Liz. You know the answer to this one. All of your therapy and Al-Anon and spiritual work gives you the answers. I would love it if you found a way to trust them without clearing them with us first. You've come a long way, girl.
I know the answer to some degree. I also know that other people may have input based on their individual experiences that might be helpful, not just to me but to others in the boards.

I noticed AH wearing his wedding ring again, too. Guess he gave up on the online dating he wanted to try out, as well. He had taken it off when I walked away from him when he started lying and gas lighting me. It's amazing what can trigger them!

Also, I am well aware of the fact that we might not even like each other in the future if we both change. Thanks everyone for the support and honesty I get here! Truly appreciate it!
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Old 03-18-2014, 05:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Wisconsin View Post
Well...I think that there are plenty of people who find recovery outside of AA. People who are atheists, or who work a different program, etc. That said, I would be highly suspicious of counseling with anybody except a trained/certified addiction counselor.

But I suppose the bottom line is what (if any) actual results you see. Until then, keep working that program! You are doing great!
Just had to respond to this one, too. He is trying to make an appointment with a therapist who just graduated from college 4 years ago. She specializes in anxiety, depression, ADHD, and other more basic mental health issues. She does not do addictions counseling. I wonder how much experience a young female counselor will have when dealing with someone who has a few decades of experience more than she? She also specializes in mindfulness therapy?? I am not sure what that entails but it's something I would probably be interested in. Not sure about my super conservative Catholic AH, though. Some days I wish I could be a fly on the wall!
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