Therapy for Adult Children of Alcoholics, Addicts, & Dysfunctional Families: How Therapy Can Help & Give Hope
What are some common traits of an ACOA? (Adult Child of an Alcoholic, Addict, or Dysfunctional Family) Summarized from the ACA Big Red book:
1. We became isolated & afraid of people & authority figures 2. We became approval seekers & lost our identity in the process 3. We are frightened by angry people & any personal criticism 4. We either become alcoholics, marry them, or both, or find another compulsive personality such as a workaholic to fulfill our sick abandonment needs 5. We live life from the viewpoint of victims & we are attracted by that weakness in our love & friendship relationships. 6. We have an overdeveloped sense of responsibility & it is easier for us to be concerned with others rather than ourselves; this enables us not to look too closely at our own faults, etc 7. We get guilt feelings when we stand up for ourselves instead of giving in to others 8. We became addicted to excitement 9. We confuse love & pity & tend to "love" people we can "pity" and "rescue" 10. We have "stuffed" our feelings from our traumatic childhoods and have lost the ability to feel or express our feelings because it hurts so much (denial) 11. We judge ourselves harshly and have a very low sense of self-esteem 12. We are dependent personalities who are terrified of abandonment and will do anything to hold on to a relationship in order not to experience painful abandonment feelings, which we received from living with sick people who were never there emotionally for us. 13. Alcoholism is a family disease; and we became para-alcoholics and took on the characteristics of that disease even though we did not pick up the drink 14. Para-alcoholics are reactors rather than actors
If you related to one or more of these traits, please keep reading!
I've seen a pattern in therapy. Many clients who grew up in alcoholic, abusive, or dysfunctional family units have very similar struggles, negative self core beliefs, and maladaptive coping strategies. It's helped them to survive and make it through some dark days (this is what we call strengths based survival; you made it, you did it, but now that you're an adult you can learn new, healthy ways of coping with daily life - people, places, and things, like emotions and any other triggering circumstance).
When I present the idea to clients that there's now a new way to cope and function in the world they're usually surprised and confused. Why? Because once we've gotten into a pattern of thinking and relating to the world it's SO hard to make changes AND we assume this is life; this is how things will be...ESPECIALLY if we're talking about months, years, and decades of the same patterns at work, personally and within our family. And, add on to that, most clients are slightly on guard and don't want to admit that what they're doing isn't working. I like to remind my clients that this is okay. There's no shame in letting your guard down and trying something new; in fact, it's very brave. It's certainly can be scary but I love it when clients catch the vision that they CAN make changes and this is done more efficiently and safely through the therapeutic process; with someone who is trained to help you unpack and make sense of your thoughts, feelings, and behavior patterns.
I love helping my clients realize the power of their voice, heal from their past dyfunctional upbringing, and live life authentially today. This takes courage; It's powerful when clients catch the vision that they CAN learn to trust, they CAN overcome the past, and they CAN find hope & healing. I’m passionate about helping my clients work through past shame, pain, fears, self-doubts, insecurities, abandonment, trauma, & abuse.
Do any of the following negative core beliefs resonate with you? I'm a failure I'm unworthy I'm unlovable I'm abandoned I have to be in control I'm bad I'm helpless I'm responsible for everything I'm hopeless I'm alone I'm not safe I'm trapped It's not safe to feel I'm defective
If you're resonate with one or several, you're in good company. Prior to healing, most of us relate to at least a couple of these negative core beliefs. Did you know that one of the benefits of EMDR therapy is to move you from the above negative core beliefs to something more adaptive and positive like the following:
I did the best I could I am worthy I'm lovable I can survive, exist, & get my needs met I can let go of some control I can accept myself I can control what I can I can recognize appropriate responsibility I am safe I'm okay as I am I can begin to learn when & how to ... I can recognize what I can & can't control
Aren't these SO much better?! The reality is you may not belief the latter list to be true; however, with EMDR therapy, we WILL get you there. That's through the amazing process of EMDR. I offer EMDR therapy, EMDR intensives, and Adjunct EMDR therapy for those individuals currently working with a primary talk therapist.
I enjoy helping my clients move from the negative to the positive core beliefs. As well as, helping them overcome destructive habits, fears, insecurities, past wounds, and unresolved core issues. I understand the power held in each client finding their voice, sharing their voice, and living life authentically. It’s courageous to reach out for help!
If you grew up in a family where addiction, codependency, mental health issues, betrayal, or dysfunction were present, it's common to struggle to relate and connect authentically with others. There is healing and hope for this!
Questions to consider: What would your life be like if you were free from the above barriers/fears/insecurities/struggles mentioned? What would be possible for you? What if you felt more empowered to take care of yourself, stand up for your needs/wants, and you felt free to communicate openly? What if you were able to reduce feelings of anxiety, depression, regret, and shame? Did you know it's possible? What's at stake if you don't get healing and invest the time now for your mental and emotional well-being?
Do any of the following questions resonate? If so, know that we will help you work through the issue at hand. Healing, peace, confidence, and healthy self-esteem are possible! I'd love for you to email for a free consultation so we can discuss how therapy can help improve your life:
- How do I manage symptoms of depression? - How do I stop acting out in rage? - How do I manage my anxiety? - How do I stop from being triggered by others? - How do I control impulsivity? - How do I learn to believe in myself? - How do I set boundaries? - How do I overcome my addiction? - What should I do if I'm struggling with abandonment or attachment issues? - How do I learn to have fun? - How do I stop over-reacting? - How do I work through perfectionism? - How do I improve communication with my spouse/loved one? - How do I identify and express what I feel? - How do I learn to trust myself? - How do I overcome shame? - How do I learn to trust others? - What is codependency? If I'm struggling with it, what do I do? - How do I work through trauma/PTSD? How do I know if I've got the symptoms? - I've never done therapy but I know I'm struggling and I'm scared to reach out for help. What should I do?
There are answers to ALL of these questions! That's the good news. There IS hope for your situation. Will you take a step of faith and start the process today? You are worth it. Therapy is designed to provide a safe, calm environment for you to explore your thoughts, feelings, and behavior patterns in a non-judgmental setting. As a trained psychotherapist, I will help you develop the healthy coping skills needed, help you understand the impact of trauma/abuse, and I'll use evidence based practices such as EMDR therapy to help you work through the symptoms that are present. Healing is possible.