What is Psychotherapy?
Psychotherapy is often referred to as “talk therapy,” as in the exercise of talking with a mental health professional about troubling issues. Talking about something that is bothering us with someone who is not a family member or friend can be very healing. In fact, sharing our emotions or discussing a difficult life event with a professional can provide us with objective insights and solutions that a person close to us might not see.
For someone in substance use recovery, therapy can be immensely beneficial. A trusted therapist can guide us through the setbacks that are bound to occur in recovery. Therapy is especially helpful throughout the first year of recovery when it doesn’t take much to threaten a budding recovery. Whether you prefer one-on-one therapy sessions or group therapy, being plugged in to outpatient therapy resources is an important protective measure to help maintain stability in recovery.
Types of Psychotherapy
There are several types of evidence-based psychotherapy that are especially useful for treating individuals in recovery. They share a common feature of behavioral psychology, meaning that they focus on helping the person change their behaviors. These include:
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). CBT is a short-term therapy that helps you change the way you respond to certain situations or triggers that have led to maladaptive behaviors, such as substance use. CBT provides important new coping skills and healthy behavioral responses to access in recovery.
- Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT). DBT identifies the connection between accepting the need to change self-destructive behaviors and then making those positive changes in your life. The four basic focus points of DBT include mindfulness, interpersonal relations, emotional regulation, and distress tolerance.
- Motivational Enhancement Therapy (MET). MET seeks to inspire a patient-driven motivation to change self-destructive behaviors. MET involves internally motivated change. First, you will devise a plan to make positive life changes, and the therapist monitors the changes and encourages you to reach self-defined goals.
- Contingency Management (CM). CM uses rewards to reinforce new positive behaviors. Incentives used in CM as benchmarks are met, and can include vouchers that have a monetary value. These can be used to purchase certain privileges or activities that are consistent with a sober lifestyle.
5 Benefits of Therapy
In recovery treatment, therapy is the central treatment element used to help individuals overcome dysfunctional thought and behavior patterns that have contributed to the cycle of substance use. Psychotherapy is also one of the fundamental aftercare protective actions to help solidify recovery following treatment. Some of the benefits of psychotherapy include:
- Provides a Backstop. It is important to have someone available to assist you when certain stressful events pop up that have the potential to threaten recovery. A therapist can walk you through the situation and guide you toward a healthy resolution.
- Helps Manage Mental Health. Another common risk to recovery is the presence of a co-occurring mental health challenge. Having regular therapy sessions will provide the intervention needed to help manage mood disorders or other mental health issues that could threaten recovery.
- Helps You Work Through Past Trauma. To fully recover from a substance issue you must process and heal from any underlying emotional pain points. These might include a history of physical or sexual abuse, grief and loss, divorce or relationship struggles, and other traumas.
- Helps Provide Peer Support. Group therapy is especially beneficial in recovery as an important source of sober support. By participating in regular group sessions you build strong bonds with other participants as you share your personal recovery stories.
- Builds Accountability. Whether you are engaged in individual or group therapy, by participating in therapy you are also building a sense of accountability for maintaining your recovery. In group therapy there is a sense of mutual accountability, where you do not want to let your peers down. In individual therapy you will feel a strong desire not to disappoint your therapist.
All of these benefits of therapy will function as protective factors against relapse. The importance of accessing outpatient therapy in recovery cannot be overstated. Therapy, in addition to other aftercare actions like attending recovery meetings and sober living, can be a significant tool for fortifying sobriety in early recovery.
Ashley Addiction Treatment, formerly Father Martin’s Ashley, is a nationally recognized nonprofit leader in integrated, evidence-based treatment for substance use disorders and is accredited by The Joint Commission. We offer both inpatient and outpatient programs, holistic addiction treatment, drug detox, relapse prevention plans, family wellness programs and a variety of other services tailored to each patient’s needs. Our driving principle — “everything for recovery” — reinforces our mission to heal each individual with respect and dignity, and reflects on our ongoing commitment to meet new challenges. For information about our comprehensive programs, please call (866) 313-6307.