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August 19, 2017

Counselor As Native American Guide

By Dr. Richard Boyum

Recently, I have been using the story of George Armstrong Custer to work with some of my clients, particularly those with chemical abuse-dependency problems. I tell the story of how Custer was essentially caught up in his own denial. Shortly before the Battle of the Little Bighorn, he asked his Indian guide what he should do. The Indian guide told the truth: "General if you go down into that valley, you and all of your men will die." Custer was driven by his single-minded goal and by his denial of what could and would happen if he did not identify his own weaknesses and vulnerabilities. I then say to my client, "Imagine that rather than my being a counselor, I am a Native American guide.

You are here because you are wanting some help, some advice, some suggestions. Like the guide told Custer, I am going to tell you that if you continue to go down the path you are on, you will die. You may die a physical death, a spiritual death or the life you were meant to live will die a death because you will never live it. Unless you change your behaviors regarding your chemical usage, you will certainly suffer and/or die."

I then ask the client to make a decision: Will they I choose, like Custer, to go forward in a way that almost certainly guarantees their destruction, or will they trust and respect their counselor/guide? The implications of the choice are as impactful for the client as they were for George Armstrong Custer. See if this model does not potentiate greater thoughtfulness and change in behavior and action in your clients.