Curriculum for Addiction Professionals > Competency 3: Treatment Strategies for Working with Clients with an FASD > 5j. Counseling Strategies: Self-Esteem and Personal Issues
Competency 3: Treatment Strategies for Working with Clients with an FASD
Counseling Strategies, Continued
Self-Esteem and Personal Issues
Not surprisingly, abuse, loss, grief, and stigma can lead to self-esteem issues.
Persons with an FASD who have alcohol problems face a double-edged sword. Their
self-esteem can be damaged by their experience with an FASD and by their drinking
problems. The counselor can use several strategies to help address self-esteem and
- Use person-first language. A fetal alcohol spectrum disorder may be part of who
a person is, but it is not the person’s entire identity. Someone can “have
alcohol syndrome (FAS)” but nobody “is FAS.”
- Do not isolate the person. Sending persons with an FASD out of the room to think
about what they have done or keeping them out of a group will most often only increase
a sense of isolation.
- Do not blame people for what they cannot do. Demanding that people repeatedly try
to do things they cannot do is a lesson in frustration. It is important to have
patience and understand individual limitations. People with an FASD may need something
repeated several times because they have trouble remembering, not because they refuse
to pay attention.
- Set the person up to succeed. Measures of success need to be different for different
people. It is important to identify what would be a measure of success for the individual
and to ensure that those with an FASD succeed within this context. Training in social
skills, anger management skills, and relaxation skills can help. In order for these
skills building programs to be most successful, they need to be repeated periodically
for the person with an FASD.