Curriculum for Addiction Professionals > Competency 2: Identification of FASD and Diagnosis of FAS > 10. Issues Related to Professional Values and Ethics
Competency 2: Identification of FASD and Diagnosis of FAS
Issues Related to Professional Values and Ethics
Having an FASD can affect recovery. Women with an FASD might have trouble processing
the steps in a 12-step program. They might have difficulty remembering appointments.
In addition, they can be easily exploited and influenced by peers. They may relapse
if they return to an environment in which friends or relatives drink. It is important
that clients suspected of having an FASD be assessed so that treatment plans can
be tailored accordingly.
Having a child with an FASD can also affect a woman's recovery process. Raising
a child with an FASD can be extremely stressful and may trigger drinking episodes
or relapse. Children suspected of having an FASD should be evaluated. An early diagnosis can help in obtaining needed services, thus decreasing stress and increasing the
woman's chances of continuing her recovery process.
Receiving a diagnosis of an FASD for oneself or one's child can be upsetting. Some
people are relieved to have an explanation for their or their child's problems.
Others may feel shame or embarrassment. Many mothers face social stigma associated
with drinking while pregnant and internalize feelings of blame, shame, and guilt.
Their families might also feel ashamed. Partners might feel guilty for not knowing
about FASD or not trying harder to keep the woman sober during her pregnancy. Counselors
need to be mindful of such feelings so that they can assist clients and their families
in processing their reactions.
Dealing with FASD is complex and difficult and requires open, honest, and sensitive
communication. Counselors need to work especially hard to establish trust and rapport
with clients who may have been prenatally exposed to alcohol or have children with
an FASD. Sensitivity to the client's family situation and cultural values is key.
For example, some cultures believe that pregnancy is a sacred time and that drinking
while pregnant breaks the sacred trust. Clients within these cultural groups who
believe in these values may need spiritual guidance to cope with this knowledge,
while others may want a more secular approach.
Counselors need to be culturally competent. They need to have substantive, accurate
knowledge of the client's background and beliefs. They also need the skills to use
this knowledge to form a productive relationship that will support ongoing recovery.