The social problem in this case will be drug addicts. There are various types of drugs that can be abused such as alcohol, tobacco, heroin, cocaine, marijuana, etc. Such drugs create dependence syndrome on the user if it is used for long periods of time. Therefore, they are meant to be avoided, and young children taught to avoid them and influences that may cause them to take drugs. The drugs alter the body and the mind and the individual starts behaving in an unusual manner. The person usually stops doing all the things that they found joy in as they concentrate on the drugs. Most of these drug addicts have to undergo rehabilitation programs so that they can join the society fully. They have to be weaned off the drugs so that they reconstruct their lives.
The gestalt therapy increases the awareness of the client in regards to how they interact with the environment and how they function and their relationships with their children, parents, and friends and at their work places. The main focus of the strategy is to ensure that the patient focuses on what is happening to them then rather than the object of their addiction. Awareness means that the person knows what is happening in the patient’s life, especially the most important parts. The environment that is monitored includes the emotional energy support, emotional and sensorimotor elements.
Support in this case can be described as anything that comes across the patient such as breathing, concern for other people and body support. During the consultation, the client understands what they are doing, how they are doing it and why they are doing it. They get to understand that they change themselves through their actions and they learn to accept and to love and appreciate themselves. They also learn the impact of their relationships with other people in their lives.
The gestalt therapy cannot be predicted as the psychologist or counselor move from time to time based on the present happenings which mean that the actions cannot be predicted. The program through gestalt is intuitive and complex . It follows the following principles:
• Holism: it takes into account the entire personality of the individual and their integration with other members of the society. They include the thought process of an individual, the body sensations and feelings and dreams.
• It also employs the field theory which suggests that everything in the universe is inter-connected. The therapist takes note of how the patient interacts with their environments such as family and friends and the workmates.
• A person needs to be in equilibrium with everything that surrounds them and everything that they come across in their lives. Otherwise, they are considered to be misplaced or not healed yet.
• Self-regulation is important. For a person to learn to regulate themselves, and then it means that they will have to learn where their addictions stem from and how 5hey can avoid the triggers that attract them to the drugs.
• The gestalt program is focused on the present where the patient concentrates on what is being done now and what is being though at the present. Importance is maintained in the present rather than in the past .
• Incomplete projects are described as unexpressed feelings that express themselves through fantasies. They may be feelings of resentment, rage, pain, relief and anxiety. If such feelings are not recognized and dealt with, then they risk presenting themselves in worse forms.
Today, gestalt practice solves a wide range of problems including migraine, spastic neck and back and eventually ulcerative colitis. Additionally gestalt therapy can be used on people who have trouble respecting authority and those who have problems with alcohol, depression or anxiety disorders .
Overview of the Population
Drug addiction is rampant in the United States. Most drug users are the youth and people who live in extreme cases of poverty. Illegal drug use in America has been on the increase. For instance in the year 2012 more than 23.9 million Americans which represents 9.2% of the population had used illegal drugs or had used a pain reliever when they really did not need it either due to dependence or addiction to the drug. It was an increase from 8.3% in 2002. Marijuana is the most commonly used drugs and is the most affordable among all other drugs .
Overview of the Social Problem
Drug addiction has been a major problem in America in the recent years. Drug addicts usually start as a way of experimenting then they get sucked into the lifestyle. Most drug users start their drug habits when they are teenager either due to peer pressure or due to the influence of important people in their lives such as their teachers their parents or other people that they look up to. The environment that a child grows up in also determines how they are going to relate with drugs. If they grow up seeing people take drugs, then they are likely to grow up thinking that it is a normal thing . That is how they become socialized into taking drugs. People who take drugs stop having interest on important aspects of their lives such as their education, their work and even stop taking care of their families.
They become dependent completely on the drugs and all their efforts and their energy go into sustaining their drug habits. If they were the breadwinners of their families, then they run into debt with children as poor having poor role models. They become very sick and become dependent on other people. They stop taking care of themselves and do not care for hygiene or even their health. People who take drugs are at a higher risk of sexually transmitted diseases and mental illnesses.
They can get sexually transmitted illnesses through sharing of needles and razorblades when they are injecting themselves with the drugs. It is because the drugs alter the chemical balance of their minds, and they start hallucinating and having anxiety attacks. Their quality of life reduces drastically, and they affect everyone in their lives. Most drug users usually deny at first that they have a drug problem . It takes the effort of their entire family and friends to convince them to seek help. Rehabilitation programs are very expensive, and the family will have to be extremely supportive if the drug addicts to overcome the addiction totally.
Overview of the Group Intervention
The relationship between the therapists and the patients is crucial. The group members usually suffer from the same problems and so they are going through the same thing and thus making the healing process much easier. The relationship is marked with acceptance, self-warmth and responsibility for their actions. Everyone is held responsible over what they do and what they have been through . The patients together with their therapists talk freely, and the dialogue is marked with the following characteristics.
• The therapist puts himself or herself in the shoes of the patients. In this way, the therapist can relate to the patients and understand what they are going through. This way, they get to have the best options for treatment. There is no judging or analyzing or trying to interpret what has been said or done.
• The presence of the therapist is to help the patients to express their feelings and encourage the patients to talk about their experiences.
• Dialogue increases the connection between the patients and relationship among the group members.
• The dialogue is active and does not have to be verbal. There is a lot that can be communicated through the use of non-verbal cues.
This process assumes that people are always discovering themselves and that they are always seeking constant transformation. The role of the therapist is to create awareness among his patients in regard to their inner selves and their external environments. First there is the contact between the therapist and the client. Next there is assessment and screening which is done as part of an ongoing relationship with the client. If the correct issue is diagnosed, then the therapist gets to decide how many times per week the person will require therapy. However, there is no set procedure for the gestalt therapy process, and therapists are free to alter the process as they see fit.
The therapist may be free to carry out experiments that raise awareness of the patients. They are usually spontaneous and are used to gauge the patient and the level of their addiction. They are also used to find new ways of doing things and coping with life without the drugs that they were used to. There is extensive use of the statements and questions to focus on awareness. It is done through direct questions. The speech pattern of the patient is considered as an expression of how they feel and their thoughts and attitudes .
There is nonverbal behavior that makes the client more aware of their body movements and how they use their bodies to share ideas and to support either excitement or grief. Whenever a person is not comfortable, or they are depressed, they normally speak to themselves without even recognizing it. Sometimes speaking to themselves helps them to talk about issues that they would normally not talk about. Self-dialogue is known as the empty chair technique. There is then enactment and dramatization where the patient is asked to put some of his thoughts in action, and usually there is extensive use of exaggeration.
In guided fantasy, the client is asked to close their eyes and imagine either a past event or future. In this way, the person can uncover some things that may have caused the problem in the first place. Dream work is the most important in the gestalt therapy because it brings dreams to life as if they are happening at the moment. The dream is supposed to reveal the contradictory and inconsistent ideas. Awareness of the patient by the patient and of other people makes the patient realize the impact of their behavior on the people who are around them. Avoidance behaviors are behaviors that enhance negative reactions on the patients. Homework assignments are also given to the patients where they assess themselves, and the homework usually becomes harder as time goes by.
Review of Outcome Studies of the Group Intervention
The outcome is that the patient will finish the therapy aware of their actions and the issues that force them to take the drugs, and they learn the triggers and avoid them. They also get to understand themselves and the people who live around them. The drugs addicts usually finish the therapy well and free of their addictions. In this way, they learn that their actions have devastating consequences for their actions. They also become aware of themselves, understand what triggers them to act negatively and to avoid the triggers . Eventually, they also learn to use various methods in ensuring that they do not fall back to their old habits. They learn to appreciate their loved ones more, and they go back to taking care of their children.
Strengths of the Approach with the Chosen Population
The strengths are that it deals with the inner person and not just the outside person, by dealing with the inner person; the chances are high that the disease will be eliminated completely. For a person who is willing to get better then it remains the best method to use for the treatment of alcoholics. The fact that there are many people in the group who undergo the same problem means that the patient gets to interact with other people with the same problem.
They learn from each other and draw ideas from each other. They also act as a support group that encourage each other and communicate with each other freely without the fear of being discriminated against or without feeling judged. It is the most important aspect because a patient who feels that they are judged based on their actions will be shy to talk about their feelings and what they have done before. The patients also get to learn to take responsibility for their actions and their thought process instead of blaming other people for what they think or feel. It is a critical step in ensuring total healing.
Limitations of the Approach
The approach will not work among people who are not willing to get treatment because they will not be willing to take part in the group activities. Some people may not feel comfortable talking about their feelings to strangers and thus would avoid this method of rehabilitation. The process would also not work in cases where the therapist is judgmental and does not respect the wishes of the patients.The intensity of the program may not be suitable among other patients. Unfortunately, there is no evidence that suggests that the gestalt group therapy is effective.
Implications for Social Work Practice
Fonseca, F. G. (2012). Integrating addiction and mental health networks to improve access to treatment for people with alcohol and drug-related problems: A qualitative study. Advances in Dual Diagnosis,, 5-14.
Kottler, J. &.-C. (2015). Learning Group Leadership: An Experiential Approach, 3rd Ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc.
SAMHSA. (2009). Substance Abuse Treatment: Group Therapy. A Treatment Improved Protocal.