How to Choose a Therapy Type for Addiction Recovery

When you’re seeking to overcome an addiction, therapy is a valuable tool to help increase your chances at success – not just in recovering from addiction, but in other areas of life too. In fact, much research has been done through the years to see just what types of therapy work best for those struggling with addiction.

In terms of therapy, we’re talking about mental health therapy, where professionals address addiction and any underlying emotional or psychological issues going on under the surface. In this article, we’ll discuss several types of therapy that can improve your odds of successful addiction recovery.

Table of Contents

Various schools of therapies exist, but the two main modes involve:

  1.       The psychodynamic paradigm
  2.       The behavioral paradigm

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Ready to get help? Give us a call.

The Psychodynamic Paradigm

The psychodynamic paradigm arose during the time of Sigmund Freud. Better known as psychoanalysis, this type of therapy usually takes you back to your childhood to see what happened there that might be playing a role in your current life predicament. Maybe it was something traumatic that happened, or you were neglected or abused. Maybe you lived in a toxic household or were bullied at school.

There may have even been things that occurred that you don’t remember; things that are buried in your subconscious. This type of therapy will cause you to do some digging into your past and into your subconscious to see if you can find the root of some of your issues.

Though psychoanalysis used to very popular, it’s not as popular today mainly because it can take many sessions to get at the root issues.  The shorter types of therapy, such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, tend to be more common now.

The Behavioral Paradigm

The Behavioral types of therapy involve treating behaviors that are unhealthy without having to do all the digging that psychoanalysis does. A great example would be a professional prescribing the medication Antabuse to treat the disease of alcoholism, which would be known as aversion therapy. Behavioral therapies are usually used in conjunction with other forms of therapy, such as Cognitive therapy.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) – Cognitive therapies, such as CBT, work on your thoughts, thought patterns, beliefs, and attitudes.  The therapist will help you determine what types of thoughts may be leading to your addiction or emotional issues. Then, when you identify negative or faulty thoughts or patterns, you work to change them into more positive ones. Thus, the re-programming of thought life can result in better, healthier behaviors (such as choosing not to drink or use drugs).

Let’s take a look at several types of cognitive therapies that have been found to be helpful for those recovering from addiction:

Rational Emotive Therapy (REBT) – REBT is a type of therapy that helps you find those thoughts or belief systems that are tripping you up emotionally or behaviorally. It enbles you understand how thoughts lead to beliefs and beliefs lead to actions. If you can begin to look at faulty thoughts rationally, then you’re more apt to change them.

For example, if you’re thinking that drinking alcohol or popping pills will help you cope with the challenges of life, that’s not necessarily rational thinking. The reality is that substances will not make dealing with life easier; in fact, it often makes it worse. When you can identify that thought and work toward changing it, as well as learning other, healthier ways to cope with challenges, you’re on a better path and more likely to recover from addiction.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) – DBT is a type of therapy that focuses primarily on four areas: mindfulness, distress tolerance, emotional regulation, and interpersonal effectiveness. Undergoing DBT therapy can help you learn various skills to help you when you face challenging situations in life, and especially in relationships.  You’ll learn healthier conflict resolution skills, become more mindful of present moment living, and learn better skills at relating to people in healthy ways.

Motivational Interviewing – Motivation is important. We tend to have internal and external motivation for doing the things we do.  With motivational interviewing, a therapist will help you find internal motivation for going after your goals. If that’s stopping drinking or not taking drugs, you’ll be able to work alongside a therapist for finding internal reasons why you want to stop. You’ll also be able to work on any ambivalent feelings you may have about abstinence or recovery.

This type of therapy is proving quite helpful for those who struggle with addiction.  It’s very good at motivating people to make changes that last for the long haul. Change is a process that occurs in stages. Motivational Interviewing can help you work through those stages.

How Can Therapy Help Me With An Addiction?

Therapy is an essential aspect of addiction recovery. Typically, if you’re attending residential or outpatient treatment, you’ll be able to engage in individual and/or group therapy. Both can be quite helpful.

Individual therapy can help you work one-on-one with an addiction specialist who can help you work on learning tools and techniques for continued recovery success. You’ll also be assessed for any emotional or mental health issues that might be going on.  If you’re struggling with anger, guilt, shame, depression, anxiety, etc., you’ll be able to work on overcoming or managing such issues.

Group therapy can also be helpful, as you’ll be able to hear from others who are struggling with similar things. It might not always be comfortable to be in a group setting, but it can be quite advantageous.  Feeling a part of the recovery community, especially with those having some of the same struggles as you, can be very beneficial.

How To Choose A Therapy Type

Choosing a type of therapy will depend on what it is you’re seeking. If you’ve never gone back and dealt with any childhood issues, such as abuse or neglect, finding a good psychotherapist can be helpful.  However, not everyone desires to do this. If you want to stay focused on more of the present moment, you might want to choose CBT or DBT.

There are many types of therapy, so do some homework. The following are also some forms of therapy that can be helpful to those seeking to recover from addiction:

  • Applied Behavior Analysis
  • Family Therapy
  • Attachment-Based Therapy
  • Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing Therapy (EMDR)
  • Experiential Therapy
  • Jungian Therapy
  • Somatic Therapy
  • Transpersonal Therapy

Why Do I Need Counseling?

Becoming addicted to alcohol or drugs may be more than just putting these things in your body to feel some sort of “high.” If this were the case, then just stopping would solve all your problems and you’d never use again. However, we know that’s not typically the case. Usually, there are other factors involved, such as psychological, social, or the stresses that come along with life. If you’re not prepared, these can lead to relapse.

Counseling gives you the opportunity to get honest with yourself and another person – take off your mask so-to-speak.  You can really get a good picture of what’s going on in your life overall; good and not so good. You’ll be able to share what you want to share without being judged, and a therapist can help you sort things out.  You can work on issues like anger, relationship, finances, health, stress, and more.

Is Counseling Effective?

A resounding yes! Counseling can be beneficial and valuable, but it usually takes a series of sessions before you start to experience the kind of change you’re seeking. Don’t expect serious transformation after just one session, regardless of what type of therapy you’re taking.  As mentioned before, change is a process and takes time. It also takes commitment and a willingness to try new things or ways of living.


Reach Out For Help Today

Take some time to learn about the various types of therapy and see what resonates with you.  What works for one person might not work for another, so it’s kind of like carving your therapeutic path. The good news is that you can experience breakthroughs and recovery success utilizing addiction recovery therapy.  Feel free to give us a call today and allow us to help you discover your unique path toward a successful recovery.