Alcohol dependency or drinking more than you really want to can be understood as the result of using alcohol as a coping strategy to deal with life's stresses - just as another might smoke, bite their nails or overeat. Due to the nature of alcohol as a mood altering substance, the body quickly builds up a tolerance and more alcohol is needed to achieve the same effect. There comes a cross over point where the individual, who was in control of the drug, becomes under its control.
Alcohol addiction can be both physical and / or psychological. Which ever is true for the individual, one of the main effects is that alcohol becomes the over-riding focus and drive in that person's life. This can lead to the individual becoming socially, emotionally and spiritually desolate.
We work with the Prochaska and DiClemente (1991) Cycle of Change, which incorporates pre-contemplation, contemplation, action, maintenance and lapse/relapse. They argue that when ever individuals change their behaviour these are the stages they go through. We therefore see lapse as a natural part of the recovery process. Our experience has been that lapses offer the potential for self-growth and change.
There are many different approaches to alcohol counselling, and counselling or psychotherapy generally, but research has shown that the nature of the relationship between client and therapist is the most important factor for change. Our attitude to the client is person-centred - non-judgmental, empathic and congruent. Each client is different and so we use an integrative approach using cognitive behavioural therapy, psychodynamic and gestalt psychotherapy, body work and motivational interviewing. These different approaches are relevant at different stages of a client's recovery. We do not use the 12 step model.
Recent research has shown that many women find it difficult to be in mixed gender groups in treatment centres. We therefore provide women only groups.
We believe that rehabilitation work needs to start as soon as all clients engage with the project even if they are not abstinent.For those clients who enter the project abstinent we have a structured relapse prevention programme.
For those clients who are working to cut back or stop drinking, we work on three specific areas initially: 1) Physical -We aim to provide information regarding all aspects of physical health. Light exercise is encouraged and incorporated into our programme. We use bodywork to help clients to re-engage with their emotions and body sensations. Massage and reiki are provided weekly towards this end. 2) Emotional/Psychological- we explore how emotions can enrich, and can be channelled to become positive aspects of our day to day lives. Our bodywork programme enables individuals to become aware of, identify and name the different emotions which alcohol had suppressed and we teach individuals how to ground themselves so that they can deal with emotions that arise. 3) Spiritual - We aim to encourage connectedness to nature, the environment and the individual's inner peace and harmony. We encourage work on our allotment in order to reconnect to the wonder of the world and to encourage a sense of achievement, satisfaction and a higher self esteem. We provide a Tranquillity Zone – a space to relax and enjoy visualizations, calming music and inspiring words.