In seeking treatment for drug or alcohol addiction, each patient must consider some sort of counseling or therapy in conjunction with any medical or holistic treatment they are receiving. Counseling with an experienced psychologist, psychiatrist, or counselor offers the recovering addict the tools he or she needs to identify particular behaviors that trigger and perpetuate their addiction and help them find ways to cope with their addiction in real life. Individual counseling is much more intimate than group therapy, with progress being a collaborative effort between patient and therapist. In this environment, feelings and discoveries about oneself can be very intense and overwhelming. An experienced therapist is skilled at providing constructive feedback and encouraging the patient to change unhealthy modes of behavior or ways of thinking.
What takes place in individual counseling?
All therapists and counselors have different styles and approaches to therapy, so it is a good idea when looking for a therapist to meet with a few and find a therapist whose style and manner appeal to you and with whom you feel comfortable enough to share your thoughts and emotions. Some therapists specialize in addiction and may be more adept at dealing with addiction-specific cases. There is no set routine or program for an individual therapy session. A therapist will most likely want to begin with an in-depth analysis of your history, possibly as far back as your childhood, but some therapists do not spend much time in the past, but rather focus on the present and the future. Certainly they will want to explore the roots of the addiction and the course it has followed since its inception.
Most importantly, your therapy sessions will consist of you and your therapist making a collaborative effort to deal with your addiction and any limitations you may face in recovery. You will work on methods of coping in high-risk situations; you may identify triggers that need to be avoided; some attention will be paid to making behavioral changes, i.e, changing ways of thinking or actions that previously led to or encouraged your addiction; you may also want to make lifestyle changes, including changing your social network to a healthier one, deepening your religious or spiritual affiliation, exercising, eating right and living healthier – your therapist can help you achieve these things with as little or as much input as you desire.
What kind of therapy is right for me?
There are many different schools and approaches when it comes to psychoanalysis and therapy, and like everything else in life, not all styles fit all people. Some people are more interested in hypnotherapy, which is therapy that is undertaken while the patient is under hypnosis, and some prefer more holistic or expressive approaches like art therapy or movement therapy. One of the most widely recognized and effective forms of therapy for those dealing with addiction is cognitive-behavioral therapy, because it deals with the connection between your thoughts, emotions and behaviors. Cognitive behavioral therapy involves identifying and reworking faulty or dysfunctional ways of thinking which may prevent the patient from overcoming his or her mental addiction to drugs or alcohol.
Most therapists, however, do not stick to one distinct school of psychoanalysis, but rather pull from various schools of thought and their own experience of what does and doesn't work in their practice and in their experience of working with recovering addicts. If you are interested in a specific approach to therapy, then you will want to seek out a therapist who practices solely in that genre.
All Treatment does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. See additional information. Find out more about individiual counseling at Power of Mind.