6 Types of Therapy That are Common in Addiction Treatment

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When an addict decides to begin the treatment process, he or she will typically begin by selecting the most appropriate addiction treatment program. Since addiction affects individuals in a wide variety of ways, the selection of recovery programming is a very personal process that requires each addict to choose the treatments and therapies that best address one’s recovery needs. As such, there are a number of therapies that rehabilitation centers offer with which individuals can create a customized treatment curriculum. While there are some therapies—such as individual counseling and group therapy—that tend to be incorporated into treatment by default, there are others that individuals can choose if those therapies address some of their specific needs. The following are six of the most widely-used therapies that individuals frequently incorporate into their addiction treatment.

Individual Therapy or Counseling

The foundation of an addiction recovery program is often identified as being individual therapy. Oftentimes individuals in treatment will feel as if they’re cured of addiction after overcoming the physical aspect of chemical dependency in a detox program, but detoxification accounts for only the initial stage of recovery. After detox, those in recovery begin to explore some of the underlying factors or circumstances that contributed to the development of their addictions in one-on-one sessions with a professional therapist or counselor.

Over the course of these one-on-one sessions, the therapist and patient establish a respectful, trusting relationship wherein the individual can talk openly about his or her thoughts, feelings, and experiences. In fact, one of the most important components of individual therapy is affording individuals with the means of privately sharing with an unbiased, objective third party who can offer feedback as well as a variety of valuable coping skills. Moreover, individual therapy has been found to be especially helpful for dual-diagnosis patients who require more personalized counseling due to a comorbid, or co-occurring mental disorder.

Group Therapy

Another mainstay of addiction treatment, group therapy is meant to help individuals overcome the isolation they feel after beginning the rehabilitation process. Group therapy consists of a group of individuals in treatment who are led in discussion by a group therapist or counselor and tends to be topical in nature, which means that the discussion is guided by prompts given by the counselor. The benefits of group therapy in addiction treatment are numerous. Group therapy allows individuals in treatment to relate to others who have experienced and are experiencing many similar things. Additionally, group therapy helps individuals to make connections with others who are supportive of sobriety with both parties benefiting from mutual encouragement. Unlike individual therapy, group therapy is more about networking with other recovering addicts; group sessions offer a means of developing healthy communication skills while witnessing the various stages of recovery and becoming further motivated by others’ triumphs.

Family Therapy

Although addiction is a brain disease, its effects extend far beyond just the addict him or herself. In fact, addiction is often referred to as the “family disease” since it jeopardizes the stability, unity, mental and physical health, and the overall well-being of a family. Similar to group therapy, family therapy is a group of individuals, but rather than being peers in treatment the group consists of the addict, his or her loved ones, and the therapist or counselor. There are many reasons why family therapy can be an important and very beneficial component of treatment. For some individuals, addiction can be partially attributed to a family history of substance abuse; in such instances, the counselor would want to help the family eliminate any enabling behavior or dysfunction that would allow addiction to persist among the family members. Moreover, family therapy is effective in helping family members to understand each other’s perspectives while also developing more respectful, empathetic communication.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Counselors and psychotherapists can utilize a number of different techniques when counseling individuals in need. Cognitive behavioral therapy is one of the most well-known and popular forms of psychotherapy, used for addiction treatment as well as many other mental and emotional afflictions. The strategy behind cognitive behavioral therapy is to identify the thought processes, beliefs, and attitudes that cause maladaptive behavior in order to help individuals correct those behaviors, including substance abuse and addiction. Cognitive behavioral therapy is characterized as a short-term, goal-oriented form of psychotherapy that’s most often employed in individual counseling and is effective in helping individuals learn to assess high-risk scenarios. Also effective as a means of instilling relapse prevention skills in individuals recovering from addiction, cognitive behavioral therapy is a staple of addiction rehabilitation.

Motivational Enhancement Therapy

In many counseling situations, individuals are guided through a series of steps that involve reflection, self-assessment, or skills building as they progress toward a state of improved wellness. Moreover, a concept called choice theory suggests that individuals will behave and make decisions based on their own intrinsic motivations, making internal motivation an important ingredient in an individual’s success in recovery. Motivational enhancement therapy (MET) is a form of psychotherapy that is meant to overcome the ambivalence that many individuals have regarding addiction recovery by evoking patients’ motivation to change.

An individual receiving motivational enhancement therapy will receive an initial assessment followed by several treatment sessions during which the therapist will use interviewing techniques and offer strategies for maintaining sobriety as a means of encouraging motivation in the patient. Subsequent sessions allow the therapist to monitor the progress of the individual, who will often show signs of more active participation in treatment. Motivational enhancement therapy is especially useful for individuals who have shown disinterest in recovery and who have been unwilling to participate in treatment.

Reality Therapy

In psychological study, a major focus is often on the effect that circumstances and environment can have on an individual’s behavior. In contrast, choice theory focuses instead on how an individual’s choices determine their behavior and the factors, or intrinsic motivations, that influence those choices. Reality therapy is largely based on choice theory and is meant to provide individuals with more effective strategies in meeting their five basic needs, which are survival, love and belonging, power, freedom, and fun.

A major tenet of reality therapy is that when individuals are confronted with the reality that their behaviors are less effective in meeting their needs than alternatives, they will willingly change their behavior to that which is more effective. In terms of addiction treatment, reality therapy is useful because it helps individuals to focus on the present and how they can improve their circumstances by making better choices, takes a problem-solving approach to recovery, discourages complaining and making excuses, and encourages individuals to be more patient with their recovery.

Make Your Way to Recovery with the Palm Beach Institute

If you or someone you love is suffering from alcoholism or drug addiction, the Palm Beach Institute can help. Call us today at 855-354-3574 or contact us online to speak with one of our experienced recovery specialists, who can match you or your loved one to the programming that will best meet your needs. A better, healthier life is only a phone call away; don’t wait.



Staff Writer

The Palm Beach Institute employs a diverse staff of writers that share a common passion for helping those who are struggling with substance abuse find the care they need. With years of experience in the substance abuse treatment industry and decades of experience in writing and research, our team of writers constantly strive to present accurate and helpful information that is easily digestible and encourages people to seek help.

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  • It’s interesting to learn that one of the treatments for addiction is individual therapy and it has a lot of benefits to go with it. I like how you mentioned this allows a person to develop a respectful relationship with their therapist and be able to open up about their thoughts. This is something my husband and I will have to keep in mind when it comes to helping my son with his drug problem.

  • I appreciated all the information that you mentioned about reality therapy in this article. FInding out that reality therapy is useful because it allows patients to focus on the present really resonated with me. I have a son that may be entering a drug rehab center soon. If he does, it will be good to know what kind of treatments he will receive.

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