Nationally Certified Family Recovery Coach, Dee Ryan Shares her Experience as a Student of The Addictions Academy!
“I thought the Family Recovery Coach class would be a breeze, as I had experience working with so many populations dealing with substance abuse issues. I had interacted with people in active addiction, people in recovery, parents of children in active addiction and, sadly, children of parents who were addicted.
I thought I had all of their perspectives and just needed the “stamp” of certification when I began the class with Katie. What I found out was that I could be a part of the problem and could make matters worse for families. I was an enabler because I had spent a lifetime being a fixer!
I grew up in a family with substance abuse and domestic violence issues and was the oldest of seven kids. Most of my waking moments were spent on hyper-alert guard about anything that would trigger parental rage or substance use. My immediate response was always to fix the situation which often consisted of me helping siblings hide behaviors or getting them out of trouble. I then spent a lifetime trying to “fix” situations which gained me a great reputation in all of my career endeavors. I thought I knew it all and coaching others would be a breeze.
Imagine then, my shock and temporary humiliation at the silence from Katie and other classmates at the end of my role-playing with parents who were trying to cope with their child’s addiction issues. Time after time, I realized I was not taking the role of helping parents move forward with their own lives but trying to make it better by helping them try to fix their own kids. Katie had to continually (but gently) remind me that the parent was the client and that I was trying to “fix” the addict.
It was an enormous paradigm shift for me to learn that the purpose might be to simply help the parents cope with the situation as it was and to not try to offer them ways to fix their child or offer them false hope.
I realized the harm I could do by teaching the parents how to fix their child or the situation instead of being supportive and aware of their needs. I realized that the role of a Family Recovery Coach is to not teach them to be an enabler as I had been for so much of my life. I am sure I will need constant self-reminders as I transition from being a fixer to being a supportive coach. I am looking forward to the challenge.”
Dee Ryan, Family Coach