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Skip Navigation Links > Competency 3: Treatment Strategies for Working with Clients with an FASD > 5j. Counseling Strategies: Self-Esteem and Personal Issues

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Competency 3: Treatment Strategies for Working with Clients with an FASD


Counseling Strategies, Continued

Self-Esteem and Personal Issues

Not surprisingly, abuse, loss, grief, and stigma can lead to self-esteem issues. Persons with an FASD who have alcohol problems face a double-edged sword. Their self-esteem can be damaged by their experience with an FASD and by their drinking problems. The counselor can use several strategies to help address self-esteem and personal issues:

  • Use person-first language. A fetal alcohol spectrum disorder may be part of who a person is, but it is not the person’s entire identity. Someone can “have fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS)” but nobody “is FAS.”
  • Do not isolate the person. Sending persons with an FASD out of the room to think about what they have done or keeping them out of a group will most often only increase a sense of isolation.
  • Do not blame people for what they cannot do. Demanding that people repeatedly try to do things they cannot do is a lesson in frustration. It is important to have patience and understand individual limitations. People with an FASD may need something repeated several times because they have trouble remembering, not because they refuse to pay attention.
  • Set the person up to succeed. Measures of success need to be different for different people. It is important to identify what would be a measure of success for the individual and to ensure that those with an FASD succeed within this context. Training in social skills, anger management skills, and relaxation skills can help. In order for these skills building programs to be most successful, they need to be repeated periodically for the person with an FASD.

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