Do people in recovery make better counselors?
Often times, it seems more “real” when a person speaks from experience. Some people in recovery have the opinion that a person who has never personally struggled with addiction could ever possibly make a good addictions counselor. “How can they possibly know what I’m going through? And if they haven’t personally struggled like me, how could they ever have any relevant answers for me?” Maybe you’ve heard this sentiment. Maybe you’ve shared it.
We typically value advice more when it comes from a person who completely understands what we’re going through. The camaraderie of shared experiences seems to lend weight to their advice. We want to know that they’ve “been there.” Because if they haven’t, how can they possibly know the depths of this struggle? The idea that someone can learn about recovery from any school other than the School of Hard Knocks seems insufficient.
But is this feeling entirely true? There are other problems that come with hearing only from people on an experiential level. One trap is that they often come with their own (often one-size fits all) ideas about recovery. The big idea is: “This is what worked for me, therefore it’ll work for you.” But is that always true?
There is great value in an experiential connection with others who have experienced what you’re going through. But let’s not limit ourselves by thinking that an educated and clinical approach is “less than.” Roc & Doc unpack that in more detail in this episode.