Saturday, February 16, 2013

The Pastoral Counselor Working with Addictions


Every church, every town, and many families know the dark effects of substance abuse that tear individuals apart. The substance might be alcohol, drugs, or food, but addiction means that a person has crossed an invisible line, before which they could exercise some cognitive discernment and volitional choice about ingesting the substance, and after which their willpower and good intentions are rendered powerless.

In my opinion, addiction groups deserve a special place in the ministry of the church, because when the spiritual fellowship of a Twelve Step program brings an addict into recovery, then pastoral counseling can focus on promoting the developmental maturity that the addictive substance formerly eclipsed.


Recovery from Addiction


Pastoral counselors might consider taking the initiative in contacting the central office of the granddaddy of Twelve Step groups, Alcoholics Anonymous, to see if they want to set up a meeting in the church. This puts several healing powers into motion. It signals to the community at large that this church, through an outgoing spirit of altruistic concern, provides a safe haven for people who are struggling with addiction. 

Church Recovery Groups

AA fosters a spiritual awakening by encouraging participants to humbly surrender to a Higher Power, a ministry that reaches outside of Christianity, yet because AA meetings traditionally end by saying the Lord’s Prayer, assures that Christ is in their midst.

A Twelve Step group in the church strengthens the life of the community as a whole, promoting recovery from addictions that would otherwise ravage marriages, families, and neighborhoods of those living in their grip. 

Pastoral counseling, when it is sought, can help dismantle the rigid personality patterns that contributed to addiction in the first place, and guide the person to repair damaged relationships.
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