Children of Alcoholics

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Running head: CHILDREN OF ALCOHOLICS

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Children of Alcoholics A Counseling Group Proposal in a High School Setting Ashley Foster & Dan Ladig Ball State University

Running head: CHILDREN OF ALCOHOLICS

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Introduction Children of alcoholics (COAs) represent a significant portion of the population. It is estimated that 9,700,000 children (or 15% of the 66 million children) seventeen years of age or younger are living with an adult diagnosed with alcohol abuse or dependence in the past year (Lambie & Sias, 2005). Families with an alcoholic member are often characterized by denial, secrecy, and isolation, which prevents family members from talking about their situation. This means that the number of COAs could be significantly higher (Arman & McNair, 2000). School-aged COAs have been shown to be at higher risk for social and emotional problems than children of non-alcoholics. Research has found COAs to have more than twice as great a risk of displaying internalizing symptoms, depression symptoms, and socially deviant behavior (Christensen & Bilenberg, 2000) and COAs report lower self-esteem than non-COAs (Post & Robinson, 1998). Although it is now a well-known fact that there are millions of COAs who are at-risk and in need of services, studies show that only 5% actually receive the services they need (Riddle, 1997). Schools provide the opportune setting to reach out to COAs. All children attend school and many COAs may feel more comfortable at school than at home. School counselors can set up programs to reach COAs. Also, school systems are generally connected to a wide range of community agencies, so outside services may be mobilized to help COAs when additional help is needed (O’Rourke, 1990). Rationale for Group The group we are proposing will focus on developing coping skills as well as teaching the disease model of addiction. Psycho-education has been a foundation for many proposed

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groups for COAs (Arman & McNair, 2000; Corey, Corey & Corey, 2010) and has proven to be an effective method for this population. Because of the secrecy, isolation, and shame that often accompany families struggling with addiction, we believe that it is essential to promote universality among group members (Yalom & Leszcz, 2005). When COAs experience universality in a group, it can lead to enhanced self-concept and promote healthier coping skills. We believe that this group can be helpful for adolescent COAs because of the transitional time period that adolescents are going through. Soon, adolescents may be leaving the home and need to learn healthy ways of relating with their alcoholic parent so that it does not adversely affect their ability to relate with others. We believe in recommending that all members also attend Alateen meetings so that once the group has terminated, they have a place to go for further support. Screening We recommend that this group is conducted in a high school setting, however a middle school setting may also be appropriate. It may be difficult to identify COAs because they may be reluctant to ask for help. Post & Robinson (1998) suggested that one way of identifying these students is to run a series of classroom guidance lessons on alcohol and drug prevention, while incorporating information about substance abuse in the family. A survey could be administered at the end of the series and could give students the option of requesting to be in a group on this topic or to be in individual counseling. An example of this kind of survey can be found in Appendix A. Once students have expressed interest in joining a group, the school counselor will need to determine who is the best fit for the group. A questionnaire can be administered to students who are concerned about their parent’s drinking to determine the severity of the situation. An

Running head: CHILDREN OF ALCOHOLICS

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example of this type of assessment is the Children of Alcoholics Screening...
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