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


Counseling Strategies, Continued

Resistance, Denial, and Acceptance

Resistance to treatment is common among persons with alcohol problems. Denial of the problem can persist for years. Women with an FASD may also deny that they have a disability. Although some are relieved to know the cause of their difficulties, others may feel the stigma and have problems confronting their disability. They may fall prey to unhealthy relationships that foster continued alcohol abuse and think nothing is wrong, because all their friends are drinking.

The counselor working with a client with an FASD needs to take time to help the person cope with the stigma and fear surrounding FASD. Reassuring clients that they are not responsible for their disability and helping them forgive their mother for drinking while pregnant can help. This process may take a while and the person may drift back and forth from accepting the disability to denying it.

Exploring the reasons for the denial and understanding the client’s fears can help. Some women may think that they are supposed to blame their mothers and be fearful of the impact accepting FASD could have on their relationship. Others may fear becoming like their mothers and having a child with an FASD.

Talking about the issues can help the client open up and accept treatment. It may be more important to address the FASD in the beginning than the alcohol problems. Understanding and addressing the FASD may help the client see the implications of her own alcohol problems and be more ready to take steps toward recovery.

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