The Role Therapy Plays in Recovery

When it comes to addiction recovery, therapy plays a key role. Individual and group therapy approaches work in conjunction to help you overcome your addiction. The insights you gain in each type of therapy complement the other, and you are better equipped to defeat addictive behaviors as a result.

The most effective recovery programs combine group and individual therapy sessions from the very beginning, and they continue with this strategy straight through to aftercare. Among the many things you can learn through a combined therapeutic approach include coping skills for high-risk situations, and how to stay motivated to live a drug-free life. You can also get familiar with the science of addiction and develop a stronger sense of self-worth.

There are pros and cons to both styles of therapy, which is why using them in conjunction is an ideal strategy. Although it can be expensive and somewhat time consuming to engage in a hybrid approach to therapy, there’s no doubt that it is a powerful motivator for a healthy lifestyle.

Therapy helps with addiction recovery

What You Need to Know About Individual Therapy

Individual therapy can be loosely defined as a client working with a mental health professional in private sessions. Cognitive behavioral therapy is the most common type of counseling involved with treating addiction. The focus of this type of therapy is to change the thought processes that lead to risky and undesirable behaviors. Frequency of these sessions will depend on your individual needs, but you can expect to attend at least one every week.

Tailored for You

Sessions are also designed with your unique needs in mind. The location might even reflect your situation, with some sessions held in outdoor environments for extra relaxation. Wherever it takes place, you can expect your therapist to help you discover your own motivation for getting sober.

You will likely be asked about a few key topics during an individual therapy session, including the progress you’re making in rehab, your unique obstacles to complete recovery, and the people you’re interacting with throughout your treatment experience. Your therapist will also likely inquire about the coping skills you’re developing.

A Goal-Centred Approach

Goal setting is another important aspect of any individual therapy session, and it typically comes at the end. Whether you want to stay sober for a set number of days, attend a specific number of meetings, or try a wholly new recovery activity, this is an essential step in staying motivated to achieve the healthy life you deserve. Some recovery programs use tangible rewards to make your goals even easier to reach.

A Partner In Your Recovery

Perhaps the best thing about individual therapy is that it’s a collaborative process. Your therapist isn’t there to judge you or tell you what to do; he or she is a partner to help you move through the stages of recovery. Through motivational interviewing, your therapist assists you in becoming more confident in your ability to overcome your addiction. This is why individual therapy is so effective for those fighting a mental-health disorder along with a substance-abuse problem.

A Trained Professional to Guide You

Therapy is so different from receiving advice from friends, loved ones, and acquaintances. This is mostly due to the fact that your therapist is a trained professional with appropriate licensure and/or certification. He or she is educated in the psychological issues that coincide with substance abuse, including obsessive thoughts, depression, remorse, and compulsive behavior.

If you need a recovery program that treats co-occurring mental illness, you need to make sure your therapist is adequately cross-trained in mental health issues. Treatment will only be effective if your therapist is properly equipped to do the job.

The Full Story on Group Therapy

When you take part in group therapy, you get the chance to learn new coping skills while you practice your communication skills. Perhaps most importantly, you get extra motivation and a healthy dose of hope by listening to your peers describe their experiences. It’s no wonder that so many deep and meaningful friendships are formed during group therapy sessions.

Group therapy makes good use of our natural desire to relate to other people. This is especially important because addiction has a knack for harming or even ruining personal relationships.

Support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous also feature like-minded people sharing stories and offering hope to each other, but they aren’t led by mental-health professionals. This is a key difference, because a qualified therapist can guide the sessions in productive directions no matter what types of experiences are shared.

Group therapy sessions can also include your family members and your significant other. This is important because these people make up the support system you need after you complete a treatment program. If you’re in a residential treatment program, you can expect to attend two or three group sessions each week.

There are many different formats of group therapy sessions, and the most common involves listening to your peers’ experiences with their addictions and recovery efforts. Sometimes, group activities are organized just to make participants feel less isolated and learn new skills in the process.

Any number of topics might come up during a group therapy session, but the following are especially common:

  • How to manage stressful situations
  • Tips for coping with triggers
  • Dealing with cravings and controlling withdrawal symptoms
  • How to handle a relapse
  • Properly managing medications

The Many Types of Group Therapy

There are a few basic types of group therapy, and the format that’s right for you will depend on your unique situation. We would like to highlight the most common forms of this very versatile treatment style.

Support groups are all about mutual encouragement and helpful feedback in a safe environment. Your communication skills will improve as you vent your frustrations and share your triumphs with people going through the same difficult journey of recovery. A nonaggressive setting makes this type of therapy a wonderful opportunity to express yourself when you need to the most.

Experiential groups allow you to apply the new coping skills you have learned in real-world settings with the guidance of a trained professional. There are many situations that may act as triggers for you during your recovery, and this kind of session is geared toward helping you handle these tough circumstances with calmness and sobriety.

Educational sessions give you the lowdown on the psychological and neurological elements that drive addiction. With a better understanding of what causes the disease, you are better prepared to avoid relapses and deal with them if they do occur. Family members and significant others often participate in these sessions so they can help you with your post-treatment adjustment.

Cognitive behavioral groups are founded on the idea that negative thoughts will eventually create negative actions. These types of group therapy sessions help you reframe your negative thinking and put productive and self-affirming thoughts in its place. When you change the way you see yourself and your world as a whole, you can make lasting changes in your behavior.

Skills groups help you find new ways to deal with tough situations in everyday life. Rather than turn to drugs or alcohol when you face a problem, you will learn how to steer clear of relapse. You might also learn constructive life skills related to budgeting or finding a new job.

No matter which type of group therapy you engage in, the sessions will be led by a trained professional with specialized training. The leader will be skilled in managing group dynamics and discussing the core issues underlying substance abuse and addiction. He or she will know exactly how to organize and direct the session to attain maximum positive value for all clients involved.

Pros and Cons to Consider

A combination of group and individual therapy is ideal for an addict in recovery. There are pros and cons to each type, though, and you need to keep them in mind as you begin your journey to a sober and healthy life.

Perhaps the best thing about individual therapy is that it’s a collaborative process. Your therapist isn’t there to judge you or tell you what to do; he or she is a partner to help you move through the stages of recovery.

Individual therapy gives you access to intensive and focused attention, which is why it’s especially helpful for those with anxiety in social situations. If you fall into this category, it’s probably a good idea to start with individual sessions before getting into the group therapy world. Having a safe outlet for self-expression is a benefit of individual therapy, but you do miss out on the chance to share experiences and receive support from peers who are going through the same things.

Group therapy makes good use of our natural desire to relate to other people. This is especially important because addiction has a knack for harming or even ruining personal relationships. Being able to practice your communication skills with likeminded people is an essential benefit of group therapy. You get the chance to incorporate varied points of view into your recovery process thanks to group sessions. The tradeoff here is that you aren’t the sole focus of attention as you are during an individual therapy session.

A combination of therapeutic approaches work best for addiction

The Benefits of Combining Therapeutic Approaches

Because each approach has its drawbacks, it’s best to combine them so that they complement each other. The philosophy here is that individual therapy helps you explore your experiences in depth, while group sessions provide unique opportunities for mutual support and real-world education on what recovery really means.

For the sake of continuity, your individual therapist will often attend group sessions with you. This is ideal because it helps your therapist keep up with your progress and any breakthroughs you’re making in real time.

A Few Points on Therapeutic Modalities

It’s important to remember that evidence-based modalities will be utilized in either type of therapy, and they inform the entire recovery process. We would like to outline a few of these therapeutic strategies so that you are familiar and comfortable with them.

Motivational interviewing is a philosophy of treatment as well as a clear set of practices. It involves being encouraged by your therapist to find your own motivation to get clean and sober. The idea is that a positive and nonjudgmental approach is the best way to inspire effective recovery, and that addiction is a disease to be managed rather than a moral failing to be corrected.

Cognitive behavioral therapy is one of the most commonly used modalities in addiction treatment. Your therapist helps you change destructive behaviors through this method, mostly through correcting your patterns of negative thinking. This approach was originally created to treat people with severe depression, and it has proven effective in teaching new coping skills and warding off relapse.

Dialectical behavior therapy aids recovery by enhancing the motivation to change, and it will help you build self-acceptance as well. Originally devised to help suicidal patients find meaning in life, dialectical behavior therapy is based on the practice of mindfulness. Through simple exercises, you will learn how to better control your emotions and cope with destructive urges.

Relapse prevention training is all about helping you develop practical coping skills to deal with stressors and relapse triggers in everyday life. It is often used in group sessions during the aftercare phase to support patients who are adjusting to life after addiction treatment.

With all of this information at your disposal, we hope you will find your ideal treatment strategy and overcome your addiction. A healthy and sober life is possible, and you can achieve it with the right help.


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