I don't think that it's news to anyone who as been through or worked in a treatment program for chemical dependency that the staff, and sometimes the very programs themselves, behave a lot like addicts. Yes many of us are in recovery but that's not an excuse because people in recovery are wonderful to be around. We behave like addicts for the same reason addicts behave like addicts, we take responsibility for things beyond our control and when things start to fall apart we end up using the same counter adaptive coping skills to keep it together. If it goes too far those of us in recovery put that recovery at risk and if the process isn't stopped these behaviors become writen into policy until the entire organization begins to stagger along like an alcoholic in full relapse.
We lie. The most common type of lie is by omission, for example we rarely admit that more than half our clients will use again within 3 years, most of those within the first couple months after treatment. Many of the lies of omission involve clients' rights. These rights can seem inconvenient when we think we know what's best but the client disagrees so we may neglect to tell them that they have the right to refuse. Doing this however is also violation of clients rights.
We blame others for our failures. Usually we blame the clients, but often each other. When clients act out we say they "aren't ready" or "don't want to put in the work." Or we blame a colleague for allowing the behavior in their group.
We get stuck into thinking if one thing is wrong everything is wrong. We fail to see progress in our clients and colleagues and focus only on their mistakes and we take them personally assuming ill intent.
Honest communication and self care are the best treatment for this, but for the fun of it I came up with 12 Steps for counselors. I'm probably not the first one to think of this and these 12 steps should be considered a rough draft or work in progress if they are considered at all. Please feel free to write your own 12 steps or suggest revisions to mine in the comments.
1) We admited that we do not have the power or the right to change someone, we can only try to create an environment where it's safe to change.
2) We came to understand that forces beyond ourselves and our programs will ultimately decided if a client heals or not.
3) We made a decision to do our best without knowing the outcome.
4) We looked at our strengths and weaknesses as clinicians.
5) We openly discussed these strengths and weaknesses with supervisors and peers and did not try and hide them from our clients.
6) We were open to feedback from superiors, peers, and clients, even if we did not agree.
7) We sought education and training where appropriate and had faith that our clients had a sincere desire to change.
8) We acknowledged situations that could have been handled better or when we were flat out wrong.
9) We took responsibility for our part in these situations and whenever possible made amends to the clients and/or colleagues affected by it.
10) We continued to be open to new ideas and for opportunities to improve.
11) We practiced self care for ourselves, both mentally and physically.
12) Then after achieving a healthy life/work balance came to understand what a privilege it is to work in this field and what a gift it is to be of service to people who are struggling.