Therapy is an essential part of the addiction recovery process that must take place to ensure one makes a mental and emotional recovery from addiction. Various therapies are usually introduced after a person has completed medical detox and entered a treatment program at an accredited facility.
Medical detox ensures that physical recovery from addiction happens. But after that step, there is still much work to do. Therapy addresses the mind and emotions that are left behind once the drugs and alcohol are out of the body. In many cases, there are a lot of pieces that must be put back together before a person can function normally and effectively in everyday life.
The inspiration to pursue full-time sobriety and a new life starts with taking a look inwardly to address personal challenges.
Behavioral therapies are designed to give you the tools you need to manage triggers that could lead to a return of using addictive substances. They’re also designed to help you understand what issues led to the use of these substances in the first place.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse highlights other benefits of behavioral therapies in addition to addressing substance abuse. These include incentives to remain abstinent and changing attitudes and behaviors linked to substance abuse.
Though group therapy and self-help meetings are crucial aspects of addiction treatment for many people, they don’t always offer the individual attention you need during recovery.
One-on-one sessions with a counselor can be helpful during addiction treatment because:
- They give you a place to work on emotional or psychological problems that are too sensitive or difficult to discuss in groups.
- They give you more time to address motivational issues that can stand between you and sobriety.
- They can support and build on the work you do in groups to help you stay committed to treatment.
- They can help you continue working on the complex psychological issues intertwined with drug use once your addiction treatment program has ended.
Unique Benefits of Individual Therapy
These unique benefits make individual therapy valuable to many people, and it works particularly well when combined with group sessions. Though not everyone needs individual therapy to successfully overcome addiction, it’s an especially valuable tool if:
- You feel at risk of an imminent return to drug use.
- You feel consistently distressed or emotionally unstable.
- You have relapsed repeatedly despite trying to remain drug-free.
- You want to learn why you developed an addiction and resolve the underlying issues that may have led to drug use.
At the beginning of addiction treatment, individual therapy can focus primarily on how to quit, offering individualized strategies for remaining abstinent. However, even after remaining abstinent for some time and resolving many of the issues caused by addiction, some people find that other emotional issues remain unaddressed, or those issues may become clearer without drugs to mask them.
For these people, individual therapy can serve as a form of self-assessment and a tool for maintaining long-term abstinence.
Individual Therapy During Detox
If you undergo detox as the first stage in your treatment, individual therapy is used along with holistic treatments and group therapy to provide a strong foundation as you progress into long-term recovery.
Specific forms of individual therapy used during treatment include:
- Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) – A psychotherapy developed in the 19080s to address post-traumatic stress disorder
- Family-Focused Therapy – In this therapy, individuals and their family members meet to discuss and work through issues to improve family relationships. This can also help recovering substance users improve their relationships with themselves and sustain their recovery.
- Brainspotting – This treatment model focuses on helping the brain to identify, process, and release stored traumatic or negative experiences.
- Biofeedback – This technique allows users to learn to control some of the reactions of their bodies, such as relaxing their muscles, as they receive data via electrical sensors that are attached to their bodies. These sessions can last anywhere from a half-hour to an hour, writes the Mayo Clinic.
- Trauma-Informed Therapy – This model involves understanding and responding to how the effects of trauma affect a person’s well-being or behavior. BetterHelp.com writes that the therapy addresses behaviors or triggers that the trauma has caused.
- Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) – This psychotherapy initially created by Marsha M. Linehan, Ph.D., for patients who were highly suicidal, has been described as a modified form of CBT that teaches people how to accept themselves completely as they cope with unhealthy behaviors and work on changing them. It differs from CBT in that participants meet weekly to learn skills in a secure environment.
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) – We’ll take an in-depth look at this behavioral therapy model below.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Cognitive behavioral therapy is widely used to help people in addiction treatment understand the link between their thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. It’s so popular that it is used to treat a variety of mental health disorders, including depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, phobias, anxiety, among others.
As the Mayo Clinic explains, in CBT, a person works with a mental health professional, such as a psychotherapist or therapist, during a set number of sessions to learn how to identify become more aware of inaccurate or distorted thought patterns that lead to destructive or self-defeating behavior. During this process, they also may gain an increased awareness of the emotions and beliefs that they have.
These thought patterns are often what recovering substance users relied on when they were in active addiction. To keep substance abuse at bay for good, it is important that recovering users change how they think, which will lead them to change what they do.
Getting rid of negative thinking habits is essential in supporting the decision to achieve sobriety. CBT can help clear up one’s view of a challenging situation or issue and help them respond in a way that helps them.
People who engage in CBT likely will focus on a specific problem, and use a goal-oriented approach, writes the Mayo Clinic. Participants are encouraged to be open and honest, as this will help them and their therapist. Relaxation techniques may be introduced as well as those that teach approaches that participants can use to cope with life situations and manage stress.
The Mayo Clinic writes that while CBT risks are low, those who participate in it may feel emotionally uncomfortable at times. This is normal as this psychotherapy guides one into looking at their life experiences, which can bring about pain, anger, and other unpleasant emotions that still must be dealt with.
“The coping skills you learn can help you manage and conquer negative feelings and fears,” the Mayo Clinic advises.
Personalized Individual Therapy Drug Treatment
Individual therapy doesn’t follow a mold or pattern. Instead, it helps you to look deeply into the role that drugs had in your life. It’s a highly personalized tool that can help you understand how you may have used drugs to self-medicate.
One-on-one sessions with a counselor can be an opportunity to look into the role that drugs played in coping with feelings, moods, and situations that you may have felt unable to deal with in other ways.
Not everyone needs or wants individual therapy during addiction treatment, but it’s a tool worth considering during your recovery. We can help you decide whether or not to include individual therapy in your recovery program.
Ongoing Individual Therapy and Addiction Treatment
While individual therapy during the first stages of recovery is typically focused on how to quit and remain abstinent, it shifts over time to resolving issues caused by the addiction and addressing underlying emotional issues that become clearer to identify and understand in sobriety.
It’s important to remember that there is no set pattern, program, or schedule for individual therapy. It’s a personalized tool that can enable you to better understand the role that drugs or alcohol had in your life and to learn new strategies for dealing with the challenges that you previously were unable to cope with before embracing recovery.
If you are entering into treatment, we highly encourage you to consider individual therapy. We are here to help you determine if it is the right choice for you in your recovery.
Please call us to learn more about individual therapy as part of a comprehensive addiction treatment program.