Step Four – Part D

Case Studies


 ‘We may define therapy as a search for value’

Abraham Maslow


Continuing with the themes of enlightenment, self-awareness, and breaking the ties that bind us, this section looks at a variety of case studies which highlight specific emotional difficulties encountered by those who seek counselling for alcohol abuse. I offer them to illustrate the tremendous healing that can take place when people transform their ‘base metals’ into ‘gold.’

To reach your true potential it is essential that you have the knowledge and insight to allay your fears, relieve your guilt and dissolve your pain. By studying the following cases, you will assimilate techniques and strategies which will enable you to identify the underlying issues that keep you stuck and resolve them. However, a word of caution: when dealing with traumatic and volatile issues, it is wise to seek the assistance of a trained professional. Therapy is a professional relationship aimed at enhancing your quality of life. The more insight you gain into your own private domain, the more you can assist the therapist, and the more liberated you will become. Ultimately, the only expert in your life is you.

A therapist will work with you – not for you


The psychological and emotional catalysts that give rise to alcohol abuse are generic in nature; they are not specific to alcoholism. The difference being that people who develop alcohol habits, rather than facing and resolving their problems, use alcohol as a means of escaping them. However, as you are now well aware, pouring alcohol onto a troubled mind is akin to throwing petrol onto a fire: it inflames the problem and leads to instability. Emotional and mental turbulence saturated with alcohol leads to unpredictability, irrational behaviour, severe mood swings, paranoia, neurosis, aggression, and depression – not release and closure. Remember, the best way to escape a problem is to solve it. In fact, the Alchemist tends to eradicate the word problem from his vocabulary entirely and replace it with the word challenge. Rather than fleeing from his difficulties, he embraces them, seeing them as golden opportunities to evolve his self understanding and amass wisdom.

In counselling we refer to two types of problem: the presenting problem and the underlying problem. The presenting problem is the issue that is currently problematic; this problem is often a symptom that arises from a deeper issue. The underlying problem is the catalyst that gives rise to the symptom. Another way of stating this is that the underlying issue is the cause, and the symptom or current issue is the effect.

Your presenting problem may well be alcoholism, but giving rise to your destructive drinking will invariably be an underlying problem(s): bereavement, futility, relationship difficulties, anger, abuse, low self-esteem, and so on. To sustain your sobriety and radically transform your life it is imperative that you resolve the underlying issue(s): removing the symptom (alcohol), is pointless if the issue that gives rise to it, the cause, is still active. When you identify, process and release the underlying issues, you build your newfound sobriety on a rock solid foundation.

The following case studies are true, but the names have been changed to protect the identities of the people involved. In every case the presenting problem can be assumed to be alcoholism, but the underlying issues giving rise to the alcohol habit differ in each case. Listen to them now:




“Turn your wounds into wisdom.”
Oprah Winfrey





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