When you undergo treatment for drug or alcohol addiction, therapy plays a critical role in the recovery process. Regardless of the form it takes, therapy is designed to help you increase your self-awareness, so you won’t keep repeating the same mistakes over and over again.
Your frustrations, disappointments and painful experiences have helped shape you into the person you are today. Before you can overcome the past—and your addiction—you must confront the truth and learn to talk about everything openly, honestly and without restraint or self-judgment. This can be difficult to do after a lifetime of hiding and denial, but addiction therapists are trained professionals who know how to gently guide you along the path to wellness.
With a few exceptions, most addiction therapies can be adapted to either individual or group settings. They will be offered as options during inpatient and outpatient treatment and will be included in your aftercare program as well.
This list is not complete, but what follows are some common types of therapy you may encounter if you seek treatment for your substance abuse disorder.
In 12-step group therapy, you will be taught that willpower alone is not enough to overcome addiction. You will be asked to put your faith in the hands of a higher power, which may be God, the universe or your own human potential, depending on your personal beliefs. Under the 12-step belief system, transcending addiction is only possible if you put your ego aside and make a conscious effort to change your behavior one day—and one act—at a time.
12-step therapy brings recovering alcoholics and drug addicts together to share stories and offer support and encouragement in the ongoing struggle against a common opponent. 12-step groups are organized inside addiction treatment facilities and are also considered a vital part of many aftercare programs.
Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
Cognitive-behavioral therapy takes a practical approach to sobriety and life improvement. In one-on-one conversations with your therapist, you will learn how to recognize the negative patterns of thought that support your drug or alcohol abuse. Once you understand those patterns, you can begin to consciously change them, re-programming your mind to support rather than sabotage good physical and emotional health.
CBT is taught during private therapy but is also used during group meetings, where feedback offered by peers going through the same process of self-discovery can be immensely helpful.
Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)
DBT is for those who have trouble controlling their emotions or who experience big mood swings that make it hard to stay focused on positive goals.
The goal of DBT is to teach participants coping and self-control skills that will help them handle their emotions and stay calm and focused in stressful situations. Conducted in a classroom-like setting, DBT sessions will include lectures from therapists, reading assignments and class discussions about the materials covered.
DBT therapy could be extremely useful for you if you have developed the habit of turning to drugs or alcohol to help you suppress your anger or frustration.
More openly spiritual or religious than the 12-step approach, spiritual counseling brings faith to the center of the healing process. Recovering addicts and alcoholics are encouraged to pursue a deeper connection with divine sources of understanding and inspiration.
Despite its spiritual orientation, this type of therapy has a practical mission. It is intended to help you gain more self-understanding and control over your substance abuse as you pursue your project of comprehensive spiritual growth.
Family or Couples Therapy
Depending on your circumstances and preferences, your family members or partners may be included in your therapy sessions. If they are, everyone will be encouraged to express their thoughts, share their insights and speak honestly about their fears and disappointments.
There are two primary goals in family or couples therapy: to rebuild relationships damaged by substance abuse and to shine a light on any unhealthy family dynamics that may have contributed to the addict’s destructive behavior.
Healing is the focus here rather than blame, and for many addicts true recovery will not be possible unless they regain the love and support of their families.
Motivational Enhancement Therapy (MET)
When you feel powerless, your motivation to fight against your addiction may be missing.
To overcome this lack of motivation, an MET therapist will engage you in a constructive dialogue that allows you to take a lead role in the development of your treatment plan. As your therapy progresses, you will be presented with opportunities to find meaning and purpose to replace the feelings of emptiness that have plagued you for so long.
Through MET your confidence will be gradually rebuilt as your ability to take charge of your own destiny is restored.
Relapse Prevention Therapy (RPT)
If you have a past history of relapse, RPT may be recommended. To prevent you from repeating the same destructive patterns, your RPT therapist will help you identify situations that put your sobriety at risk and offer advice on how to resist temptation when those situations cannot be avoided.
In addition to its usefulness for those who have relapsed before, RPT is an appropriate aftercare treatment for newly-recovering addicts, who may not understand the risk of relapse and may not know what to look out for.
No Two Addicts Are the Same—And No Two Treatment Centers Are the Same Either
If you seek help for a substance abuse problem, your personalized addiction treatment plan will likely include at least one—and probably more—of the therapies just discussed. Other alternatives are available, but they are generally used as supplements to these methods and not as replacements.
Of course, different facilities offer different options for therapy. So if you find certain therapies more intriguing than others, please contact us and we can help you find a treatment center that can satisfy your preferences.