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Human Services


Dr. Mary E. Bold


Stigmatization, labelling, and stereotyping have been recognized through historical literature as categories that classify recovering counselors with the status of a second-class citizen. One of the subtle impacts of stigmatization on recovering counselors has been the reluctance of these counselors to share their substance abuse histories or admit they formerly used alcohol and other drugs. The purpose of this qualitative, multiple case study was to explore the impact of stigma on the life experiences of recovering counselors in the addiction and counseling fields. The social identity theory was the theoretical foundation of this study. Four participants (3 recovering counselors and 1 nonrecovering counselor) were recruited and interviewed through the snowball sampling method. Data collection included both e-mail and face-to-face semistructured interviews. Data analysis consisted of hand coding and case study analytic strategies. The findings of the this study provided an understanding of recovering counselors' experiences from their perspectives in their own words. The emergent themes were stigma, salient experiences, recovery, helping others, and gratitude for research participation. The audiences that could benefit from the results of this study are other counselors, social psychologists, and policy makers who can consider the study findings in light of the social identity theory problems of in-group bias, subordinate status inequality, stereotyping, and intragroup homogeneity. By reducing stigma and addressing credentialing, the professionals can promote positive social change in their practice in the addiction and counseling fields as well as the counseling profession in general.

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