As a licensed clinical social worker, my services are offered to people afflicted with behavioral health issues and substance use disorders. During my social work career, I've witnessed many clients cycle through the "system" from one clinician to the next, year after year. Some clients sought or were prescribed medication to quell their anxiety, depression and/or to regulate their mood yet still they suffered. These clients desperately hoped their life would change through an external source, if only they could find it somewhere, out there.
In civic, private, and non-profit settings, I've observed untreated substance use disorders as a leading cause in seeking mental health assistance. Many sufferers struggled in the belief that their problem was external. Often those affected by addiction are unable to admit their struggle with their family, society and or themselves. This emotional state holds them captive.
Mysteriously, however, in the midst of addiction or alcoholism, a client will "surrender". Somehow they find a willingness to listen and take direction, usually from someone who has overcome addiction. This unexpected readiness often occurs during a major life challenge, such as the loss of an important relationship or employment, a serious illness, a criminal arrest. In the midst of this upheaval, a portal opens.
As a recovered alcoholic, I recognize alcoholism as a spiritual malady. My untreated alcoholism blocked my desire to help others, including myself. Before recovery, I moved through my days, full of resentment, and deep sadness. I was fueled by my own angry willfulness. Like many before me, I turned to therapy for depression. This was a starting point and thankfully, my intuitive therapist pointed me toward Alcoholics Anonymous. Gratefully, when this small amount of willingness appeared, I accepted the Twelve Steps of Recovery as a way out of my misery. I learned within the twelve codified proposals "the Twelve Steps" that I needed a personal self-appraisal to find the root of the problem. Little by little, I accepted my troubles as spiritual in nature and my alcoholism as symptomatic of a deeper spiritual disorder. When i faced myself with the help of Something Greater, years of resentment faded away and was replaced by understanding and forgiveness for myself and others.
In 2011, upon completion of the Contemplative Clinical Practice Certification Program at Smith College, I wondered how to bring spiritual contemplative guidance into my clinical practice. With the support of caring friends, associations with spiritual advisors, attendance of contemplative trainings (ongoing still) and a loving God; a path opened to Inward Grace and a new offering based in the Love of God for each of us.
*The word 'spiritual' does not refer to religious matters. All activity which drives the human being forward towards some form of development-physical, emotional, mental, intuitional, social-if it is in advance of her/his present state, is essentially spiritual in nature and is indicative of the livingness of an inner divine entity.