Al‑Anon expands the support system offered by professional counseling

Valerie Montgomery, BSW, MA, NCC, LPC
Colorado Springs, Colorado

Sometimes in my work, I suggest Al‑Anon as a potential resource for a client or for a family member. I do this because I cannot be a peer with either my client or their family. With the support Al‑Anon offers, my client can have daily encouragement on a peer level.

The tools and resources Al‑Anon offers can expand my clients’ awareness of themselves and their needs on a different level than I can. It’s really a win-win situation when a client goes to Al‑Anon. Expanding support systems is important to most of my clients, and Al‑Anon works very well with professional counseling.

Assessing who might benefit from Al‑Anon is a fairly easy process. When I find issues surrounding a friend or family member’s alcohol use, I look for an opportunity to communicate with my client about resources that are available. Resource expansion is part of my treatment plan for clients. Talking about self-care is also a part of my work. Al‑Anon blends easily into this discussion and plan.

I also recommend Al‑Anon to colleagues who have consulted with me about a client. I think every professional working in the field of substance abuse, mental health, or behavioral health could benefit from having Al‑Anon in their referral network. 

Al‑Anon is a solid, dynamic, and enlightening program. The slogans are catchy and easy to remember. Part of the language I use with clients comes from Al‑Anon literature. “First Things First” works to ground clients in the moment and easily prioritizes their swirling thoughts. “Easy Does It” implies the grace that is necessary to learn and grow in emotional wellness. “One Day at a Time” slows down the compulsivity and catastrophizing that some clients need to eliminate in their thinking patterns. These sayings are powerful tools.

Most of all, the concept of non-judgment that Al‑Anon espouses, as well as letting each member be responsible for their journey, smoothes the way for the deep work of psychotherapy. Support through the Al‑Anon program helps my clients take the time they need for working on changes. Al‑Anon can boost and nurture the individual to maximize their experience in counseling.