Addictions have been wrongly stigmatized for a long time. Unfortunately, many people suffering from addition are judged and treated unfairly by society every day. However, those who work in social and community services can aid in empowering clients to face their addictions and get the help they need.
There are many misconceptions about addiction illness. Some people believe it’s a choice, that it’s not an illness at all, or that it’s a hopeless case. But community services workers (CSWs) know that this is simply not true, and that reversing the shame surrounding addiction is actually the first step to improving an addict’s life.
If you’re looking for a rewarding career where you can help people regain control of their lives, a community and social services role may be your career calling. Read on to discover three things you should know about addiction and the recovery process.
Grads With a Community Services Worker Diploma Know Addiction Is a Disease
As a student training to become a community services worker, you may know that the Canadian Medical Association Journal classifies addiction as a disease. This is because addiction and substance abuse change the brain’s functioning. For example, every person’s body releases pleasure hormones when their basic needs such as thirst and hunger are met. When addictive substances are consumed, they cause the body to release this same pleasure hormone. Over time, addicts cannot feel normal without the drug and may also lose interest in meeting their other basic needs, as they become dependent on drugs for that same feel-good hormone.
Students in Community Services Worker Training Need to Know About Co-Occurring Diseases
The 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that 40.7 per cent of the US population who had a substance abuse problem also had another mental health condition as well. In addition, the study also found that people who have a mental illness are twice as likely to abuse illegal drugs compared those who do not have a mental illness. These staggering numbers clearly demonstrate the close relationship between mental health and addiction. This is known as co-occurring diseases.
Once you graduate with your community services worker diploma, you will likely encounter many clients struggling with both addiction and mental health problems during your career. It can be especially hard to assist clients who suffer from co-occurring disorders, because it may be hard to isolate their symptoms. However, as a CSW with knowledge of addictions, you could recommend that your clients look into an integrated treatment plan that works to treat both of their illnesses simultaneously.
Students in Community Services Worker Training Know to Look Out for High-Functioning Addicts
As a CSW you will work closely with families from many different backgrounds as you monitor them for warning signs of abuse, addiction, and other activities that may threaten their safety. As you take on this role, it’s important to remember that the signs of addiction are not always very obvious. Many addicts are high-functioning, meaning that they can have a stable family life, a job, and may even be a respected member of their community. As a result, it can be hard to recognize from the outside that something is wrong.
As a CSW student you will take introductory courses on crisis management and drug addictions. Some warning signs you may learn to look out for are a loss of interest in old hobbies or being unable to cope with life’s challenges without turning to a drink. With high-functioning addicts, often the best way to propose treatment is through non-threatening methods, such as having family members leave treatment brochures around the home.
Homelessness is an issue that the federal and provincial governments have made great efforts to address in recent years. Although there has been a good amount of progress, there are still approximately 250,000 people in Canada who experience homelessness every year.
As a Community Services Worker (CSW) you’d be on the front lines working with some members of the homeless population in your community trying to help them find a solution—whether that be a warm meal, a shoulder to lean on, or accommodations for the night. If you’re interested in earning a CSW diploma, you might even choose to work for an organization that helps homeless people exclusively. Read on for a few proven tips for working with members of the homeless population that might come in handy throughout your career.
1. Use the Communication Skills You’ll Develop During Community Services Worker Training
Regardless of the reasons that individuals end up homeless, it’s a situation that can really affect their sense of self-worth. When you work with homeless individuals in any capacity—from an intake interview to a full-on counselling session—it’s important to use your communication skills to take an empathic approach, rather than treating them like a number. Some homeless individuals are walked past by dozens, if not hundreds, of people a day while asking for change, so even engaging in a small conversation with them as you offer services can make a huge difference.
You’ll learn during your community services worker training that you should always try to avoid stigmatizing homeless individuals. There are many paths that lead to homelessness, and each person has a different story, so conversing with them can help set the stage towards finding the best service to meet their individual needs.
2. Pool Resources for Same-Day Help After Earning Your Community Services Worker Diploma
One of the advantages of earning a community services worker diploma is that you’ll work in positions where you’ll know about what challenges the community faces, as well as which resources are available. When dealing with homeless individuals, it’s important to have a list of resources that are immediately available to them so that they don’t have to go on a waiting list. This might include shelters, soup kitchens, organizations that donate clothing, and more.
Many soup kitchens throughout Canada are happy to provide meals to anyone in need
During your career, it will be important to maintain relationships with various organizations that offer meals, shelter, medical attention, and more to the homeless to build a helpful support network. Even if you can’t help find someone a bed for the night, you may be able to at least direct them to where they can get a meal or a pair of shoes. Your ability to act fast will depend on your ability to stay organized with the resources that you can guide people to within the community.
3. Work on a Case-by-Case Basis After Community Services Worker Training
CSW training will teach you how to create and maintain all the important documents that go into people’s individual files. When working with homeless people, working on a case-by-case basis will be important since different individuals will require different services.
While some homeless individuals might require work skills training, others may be suffering from addictions, or require mental health services. Working case-by-case means keeping track of the services offered to each individual and maintaining an organized file on them so that you can also track their progress. While following up some time later, you’ll be able to see how people benefit from the variety of services offered within a community, and adjust the level of support they receive accordingly.
Earning a Community Services Worker (CSW) diploma can open the door to several rewarding career options; each one presenting a unique opportunity to make a positive impact in your community. Say you find work in a halfway house, this would make you an integral part of a team that aims to help criminal offenders reintegrate into their communities, once they have served their sentences.
If you are planning to pursue a career as a community services worker, read on to learn more about halfway houses, and the role CSWs play in helping criminal offenders find meaningful roles within their communities.
CSWs Know that Halfway Houses Provide Support to Offenders
A halfway house is a facility which offers housing and support to offenders who are in the process of integrating back into their communities. In Canada, halfway houses are either governed by the Correctional Service of Canada or run by private organizations. These facilities have been serving communities as part of the Canadian culture for over 100 years.
Halfway houses are usually staffed with mental health professionals, social workers and of course, experts with community services worker training. These facilities provide places for offenders to live while they undergo counseling, work skills training and a variety of other reintegration programs. Once a criminal offender has been released from a correctional facility, he or she will typically reside in a halfway house. In some cases, staying in a halfway house is an alternative way for offenders to serve the remainder of their sentences. Prior to being admitted into a halfway house, individuals are carefully assessed and screened to ensure they meet certain behavioural standards.
Aside from participating in counseling sessions and other programs within the halfway house, residents are permitted to leave the facility during the day to go to work, attend school or receive medical treatment. However, they are required to respect curfews and abstain from consuming drugs or alcohol.
The Role of a Community Services Worker in Halfway Houses
Community Services Worker courses will help you develop the skills you’ll need to manage individual cases and keep track of an offender’s progress during his or her time at the halfway house. In some cases, CSWs will schedule regular meeting with halfway house residents. This will provide them with the opportunity to have helpful one-on-one counseling sessions.
With a Community Services Worker diploma, you might be required to help create some of the programs that halfway house residents will follow. Although they may vary, programs for groups or individuals usually fall into the following categories:
Life skills education and mentoring
Employment skills and retention training
Substance abuse education and counseling
Once you become a CSW, you might decide to help residents reintegrate into the community by referring them to local businesses or other facilities and helping them find employment. In fact, you may be able to help them find paid or volunteer work, or perhaps find additional support by introducing them to therapists and support groups in the area.
Studies show that halfway houses in Canada can contribute immensely to the safety of a community. Many offenders who have stayed in halfway houses, and have gone through the stages of reintegration, have shown a much lower risk of relapsing into criminal behavior.
Are you interested in becoming a community services worker? VisitNAHB for more information or to speak with an advisor.
After earning their community services worker diploma, students might go on to work at women’s rehabilitation facilities, community centres and emergency shelters, helping those in need get their life back on track. Because community services work revolves around helping others through difficult and stressful times, counselling skills are an important component of a CSW’s training.
Here are some of the essential counselling skills used by community services workers in the field.
1. Active Listening is a Must for Counsellors
Professionals with CSW training who work with individuals dealing with grief, or who have behavioural problems, know about the importance of active listening. Active listening is how community services workers really get at the core of what their clients are trying to tell them. Active listening includes giving small prompts of encouragement, and paraphrasing the individual’s concerns in order to reflect on the root causes of their problems.
2. CSWs Know How to Interpret Body Language
Psychology, communication skills and counselling techniques are all areas of study for students earning their community services worker diploma in Ontario. This specialized training ensures that community services workers know how to interpret body language and understand emotions that someone might be burying, or unable to communicate outright.
For example, a client with crossed arms might be defensive or closed to communication, while someone who is rubbing their hands together or touching their neck might be unhappy and trying to reassure themselves. Community services workers are highly attuned to these kinds of indicators, and what they say about a person’s emotional state.
3. Community Service Workers Use Open Questions
Community services workers use open questions to give clients a chance to expand on their feelings and elaborate on key issues that are bothering them. This technique helps to generate a dialogue and establish a conversation so that the client and CSW can get to the core of a problem, and begin working on establishing solutions.
4. Using Closed Questions
While open questions help begin a conversation, a closed question will help direct it. Community services workers will sometimes use a closed question to get more information about a specific incident, or identify the parameters of the issues the client is facing.
5. Using the Miracle Question as a Counselling Tool
Another kind of question that community services workers use is the miracle question. This question tries to change a person’s perceptions by asking them what their life would be like if a miracle happened. What would that miracle be? How would the client’s life be changed by it? The miracle question focuses on a positive change that would make life better, and switches the focus from the present to where a client wants to be in the future.
Professionals with community services worker training are increasingly in demand, because of the range and scope of the work that they do, as well as the positive impact they have on others and on their community.
Do you have strong communication skills and enjoy helping others? Take a look at our Community Services Worker program.
Students taking community services worker training in hopes of working in crisis intervention, should know that this field has a rich, albeit recent history. CSW training will help students familiarize themselves with the many operational theories being used to help those who have undergone or are living through a crisis. Read on to find out what these various theories are.
A Brief History of Crisis Intervention
Modern crisis intervention techniques and the practice itself can be traced back to the need for expanded psychological methods of treatment following World War II. Preliminary theories however, stemmed from the aftermath of the 1942 Coconut Grove Nightclub fire in Boston.
The fire killed 493 people, and Dr. Eric Lindemann of the nearby Massachusetts General Hospital was responsible for helping the survivors of this tragedy cope with their grief. He developed a theory that survivors go through several stages of grief, which ultimately ends with them accepting and resolving the loss. Lindemann’s stages look like this:
Guilt and Hostility
Crisis Intervention Theories
Since Dr. Lindemann first published his theories, other theories of crisis intervention have emerged. Here are some you may discover while earning your community support worker diploma:
Systems Theory: This theory argues that all crises have to do with the relationships between people or between people and events.
Adaptation Theory: This is the belief that when a person’s negative thoughts, destructive defense mechanisms and maladaptive behaviour is replaced by positive equivalents, the crisis will be over for them.
Interpersonal Theory: According to this theory, a crisis arises when people place their self-validation in the opinions of others. Re-localizing this self-validation is the common solution.
Applied Crisis Theory: This theory rejects the notion that all crises can be treated the same. Instead, there are three main types – normal developmental crises, situational crises and existential crises.
Crisis Intervention Models
There are currently four main models used to successfully intervene in a crisis situation. The first three are:
Cognitive: The goal of this model is to help a person change their views and beliefs about an event, because faulty thinking is the root of the crisis.
Equilibrium: This model, ideal for the early stages of a crisis, helps the patient re-establish the equilibrium of their normal coping methods.
Psychological Transition: This model aims to eliminate factors brought into a situation by a person’s heredity and learning.
The Six-Step Crisis Intervention Model
The six-step crisis intervention model, which is commonly used today, was designed by Gilliland and James. This model is designed to be implemented by a support worker, such as a CSW, and the first three steps are:
Define the problem
Ensure client safety
This is followed by steps that take action and put recovery into practice:
Are there any other crisis intervention strategies you know of that are effective?