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Needs versus wants?

24.11.2017 - Addiction, Articles, Mental health

We have a programme we believe in. We have seen it work to dramatic effect. It is designed to change and challenge the presenting symptoms / behaviours that have led a client into our care, and alongside this to work on the deeper trauma issues. Often the trauma is expressed through any number of counterproductive behaviours. Sometimes it is easy to just focus on the most visible. We fully understand the unique factors that make our particular client group different and we are used to walking the fine line between providing what a client needs and what a client wants.

When we deliver what the client needs (in our view) we do so because we believe it is the first steps on the pathway to release the pain and anguish. That pathway is one that leads to healthy love of self and others. It is a pathway out of pain and chaos to a place where the potential of the human heart can be realised. Sometimes it means stepping outside of the safety of the familiar. In dependent individuals, the familiar means having every need met despite the consequences. If we remain focused on what the client wants, then we become another cog in the machine of pain.

So how do we manage this? We begin to show compassion and understanding to our clients through our own stability. We seek to become an anchor point of safety. Also, we begin to work within boundaries. Boundaries are one of the most important expressions of love. We apply boundaries to those we love in life and we seek to replicate this during the treatment process. Boundaries do not hinder creativity, they are rather the foundations to change.

The behaviours our clients have decided to change have provided a safety net for them. They have helped them to survive both the short- and long-term impact of traumatic events. Sometimes they may have even saved their lives. But the reality is at some point these behaviours become destructive. They can tear apart families. They can destroy lives. They are so deep rooted and familiar that it can feel easier to continue with them than to change. Letting go and making changes can be a fearful place to be and resistance has its roots in fear.

By applying healthy boundaries, by showing love, we teach the client that they can change. That if they can push through the resistance that their lives will become less painful. That the short-term discomfort will soon be replaced by a sense of freedom.  And that we will walk alongside them during the initial phase of discomfort when they may feel destabilised and unsafe. We will hold their hands. We understand the process they are going through.

"Needs versus wants" is a crossroads in the process of change. When a client is there, everybody who cares for them, who loves them – family, friends, care providers – becomes part of the support team to guide them through.

Author: Dean Gustar - Head of Clinical Operations, The Kusnacht Practice