It is never good to be assigned a derogatory label. It can be because of the uninformed and prejudiced equivalent related to race, gender, sexual orientation, or gender identification or the derogatory terms used to describe people with mental illnesses, alcoholism, or other substance abuse issues. The stigma attached to people who struggle with substance misuse or mental illness may make it more difficult for them to access care. Shirley Wantland is an inspirational mental health counselor with a penchant for restoring hope and healing to those struggling to find their path.
All her life, Wantland only wanted to be accepted by others, considering she came from a Vietnamese background with a refugee beginning. The differences she felt throughout her adolescent life shaped her into becoming one of the most empathetic and compassionate people in the addiction recovery field. Furthermore, this led her to co-found Recovery Consultants, focused on traditional and cutting-edge resources, building a recovery ecosystem to establish and sustain the path to long-term recovery. She is currently presiding over its offices in the San Francisco Bay Area.
What makes Wantland stand out from the rest of the crowd is her ideology. She believes that each person is unique, as are the circumstances that shape them. While most industry specialists believe in the AA/12-Step model, where everyone wanting recovery must abstain from all mind-alter substances for the rest of their lives, she argues that there is no “right” approach to healing and mental health recovery.
According to Wantland, the above model is unacceptable and shameful because it restrains people instead of allowing them the freedom to do something better for themselves. Rather than cramming people into narrowly-defined boxes of “success,” she believes in helping people create their own boxes, allowing them to recover and heal in an approachable and sustainable way.
Furthermore, Wantland favors an all-inclusive, non-judgmental approach toward addiction recovery. She believes this whole field is running on fear, which needs to change into something based on love. Most of the time, when family members attempt to assist us, they do so with love and care at their core, but fear is typically what motivates them, and fear-based actions lead to fear-based outcomes. As a result, they repeatedly engage in this cycle, each time producing a different undesirable effect (based on fear). Creating a genuine rehabilitation and healing space can help people and their families align to love.
With the hope and desire that love, compassion, and acceptance replace fear, judgment, and control, not only with individuals and clients but also with industry professionals, Wantland contends that we can become free of our worries and limits by learning to lead with love. According to her, doing so enables us to establish an authentic connection with ourselves first, which opens the door to a genuine relationship with others.
Wantland is a skilled counselor who aspires to bridge the gap between orthodox mental health, addiction treatment, and some of the more spiritual/shamanic healing techniques. She wishes to be a part of the ongoing campaign to de-stigmatize addiction and mental health for those suffering from it and the general public.