DJ Mac has a great guest post from a professional sharing his first exposure to 12 step recovery.
I was astonished the first time I was taken to an NA meeting. I mean, really gobsmacked – you could have knocked me off my seat. The room was full of recovering heroin addicts; something I’d never seen in my 20 years (at that time) in practice. I was both excited – at the possibilities – and ashamed – at the fact that I didn’t know such places existed.
Wonderful, right? What happened when he shared this exerience with colleagues?
When I began to talk mutual aid with colleagues in practice and with our local addiction psychiatrist, I observed a peculiar thing in many people – a resistance to the concept of self-help at best and downright hostility at worst.
. . .“it doesn’t work for everyone” was like a refrain ten years ago. I began to have to bite my lip when I heard it because it was such a common response and I started to find it amusing. Paracetamol [Tylenol to American visitors] doesn’t work for everyone who has a headache, but we try it and see if it works, because it works for quite a lot of people. I don’t get the response “it doesn’t work for everyone” when I talk about paracetamol. Paracetamol doesn’t get folk arguing or getting emotional.
So, what’s really going on?
I think part of it is feeling threatened by a process – recovery – that takes place out of the consulting room or clinic. It is non-professional, but instead of being a bad thing, this is actually perfectly healthy and the way it should be. Most of us go into the caring professions to help people, but some of us are threatened at our core when our patients need less of our help than they once did. Those of us who are like this are not very likely to have insight to see it. I think that’s part of what’s going on in some people when mutual aid comes up. It disempowers the professional.
Read the whole post here.