In this lesson, if you are working with families, you’ll want to pay extra attention in helping family members (especially parents) understand that “early childhood issues” does not mean “it’s the parent’s fault.” Most parents already blame themselves for their child’s addictive behavior, and if not carefully explored, this unit can make parents feel worse and trigger their own shame. It can also give the addicted child “permission” to blame the parent: “If you loved me more, my brain would work and I wouldn’t be addicted.”
If this comes up, a brief explanation of intergenerational trauma can be helpful. The parent did the best s/he could, and whatever shortcomings the parent has, came from his or her own parents’ shortcomings. Those, in turn, came from their parents. Once we understand everyone’s doing the best they can, there’s no one to blame. We can then invite the client to let go of blame and focus that energy on learning to listen without agenda, and with unconditional positive regard.