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Montclair, NJ – A recent study reported that the incidence of physical abuse among alcoholics is three times the national average and that female alcoholics are eight times more likely to have a history of sexual abuse than non-alcoholics. Indeed people with a history of abuse will often turn to drugs and alcohol to self-medicate only to be trapped in the cycle of addiction.
Cathy Roberts is a licensed clinical social worker and psychotherapist who works primarily with addicts, alcoholics and their families. Roberts understands firsthand the challenges of addiction; her mother struggled with alcoholism and Roberts herself is a recovering addict and alcoholic.
“There’s so much shame involved with addiction,” says Roberts. “For someone to know they’re talking to someone who’s been there, who understands and doesn’t judge them I think is helpful.”
According to Roberts, each of us develops a belief system about ourselves and about the world. Many times these beliefs can be self-defeating. Roberts’ goal in therapy is to help her clients identify those beliefs, understand where they came from, and challenge them. It’s a process of making people aware.
“It sounds clinical, but we want to reprogram those self-defeating messages which keep them stuck,” adds Roberts. “You want to change their thinking so that healthy behaviors come more naturally.”
Roberts says her goal first and foremost is to create a safe and supportive environment where the client can feel comfortable discussing issues that can be very painful.
“Those were difficult circumstances to grow up in," says Roberts, "but it gave me compassion for people living with addiction as well as the addicts themselves. I respect how much courage this takes.”
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