Differential Use of Self with Addicted Versus Psychiatric Patients

  • Maryanne Vandervelde


We need to learn more as therapists about how we use ourselves differently with addicts versus other psychiatric patients. During the four year period 1971 to 1975, five social workers at Hall-Brooke Hospital in Westport, Connecticut, had the rather unique experience of working on both the addiction unit and one or more psychiatric units. This is an unusual situation because addiction programs tend to attract a particular type of professional, and social workers who get into that specialized area tend to remain there. Similarly, social workers experienced in psychiatric settings often express distaste for working with alcoholics and drug addicts. By contrast, the “musical chairs” philosophy of this institution allows all of its treatment staff to move back and forth, usually at one year intervals, between various kinds of treatment units, and to work in team relationships with a variety of other staff members. The accumulated experience of these five well-trained, highly professional social workers points to some rather interesting differences in therapeutic work with addicted persons versus other psychiatric patients. Of course, there is a basic core of knowledge and a basic sense of professionalism which remains extant, but the different ways these people used themselves as change agents with the two groups seemed striking and significant. Although some of the conclusions may be peculiar to these social workers in this particular setting,. most of them can be generalized.


Psychiatric Patient Drug Addict Psychiatric Unit Family Investment Psychiatric Group 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1981

Authors and Affiliations

  • Maryanne Vandervelde
    • 1
  1. 1.Pioneer Management, Inc.SeattleUSA

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