Are you or a loved one struggling with substance abuse and addiction? It’s often a slippery slope. Your life slowly begins to unravel and spin out of control. You know help is available, but you’re still reluctant. You have a lot of questions about what addiction therapy is actually like. Making major life changes, like battling addiction, takes time and effort. With the guidance of professionals who understand addiction, however, you get sober and stay clean.
Individual therapy is often the cornerstone of recovering from addiction. This is where you and a qualified addiction counselor start the process of self-discovery and transformation during individual counseling sessions. A counselor can offer you many tools, exercises, and strategies throughout your recovery. In fact, you may find that your counselor is your biggest ally when times get tough and you need extra support.
You may be thinking that it will be difficult to open up to a stranger. You may fear being talked down to or judged. You know drugs are ruining your life. You don’t need to listen to a sermon about why drugs are bad.
Individual counseling is not a stern lecture. In fact, it is a chance for you to discuss the things that have been weighing on you for months or even years. Counselors do not force information out of you. Instead, they empower you to share when you feel comfortable. Using evidence-based therapies, a counselor can help pull you out of the downward spiral of addiction and show you ways to regain control of your life.
Types of Individual Addiction Counseling
When a counselor works with you during one on one therapy, he or she really gets to know you. The relationship you cultivate and the information you choose to share helps the counselor determine the most effective ways to help you throughout your recovery. During sessions, you and your counselor explore the psychotherapy that resonates with you. Some therapies include:
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): The basis of CBT assumes psychological problems, like addiction, stem from faulty thinking and learned patterns of destructive behaviors. When one takes time to analyze these issues, they can begin to recognize distortions of thinking and maladaptive behaviors. As a result, they can learn coping strategies and problem-solving skills that help to transform their perspectives.
- Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT): The theory behind DBT is that some people react more intensely towards certain situations. These arousal levels can lead to serious issues like drug abuse. DBT helps individuals become more mindful of their emotional triggers and learn to identify, accept, and regulate difficult situations.
- Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR): Some individuals suffering with addiction haven’t found ways to cope with prior traumatic events like the death of a loved one, abuse, or a bad accident. Using eye movements or other techniques while thinking of the traumatic experience allows the brain to process the memories more effectively. In time, the effects of the event begin to diminish. This allows an opportunity to process and heal.
- Motivational Therapy: Being told how to think or behave is rarely effective. Motivational therapy helps an individual develop the mindset to change by exploring how his or her thoughts and actions are causing distress in life. The focus is on the individual resolving ambivalence about getting clean and staying engaged in treatment.
Treating Addiction and More with Individual Counseling
Addiction is a progressive mental health disorder. Without intervention, it only gets worse with time. Each person experiences addiction differently. An individual’s biology, past experiences, and history of drug use often contribute to the disorder. Individual counseling seeks to get a person out of the vicious cycle of addiction and allows the person to start regaining control over their life.
There are several effective therapies that can help those struggling with addiction. These therapies are designed to empower an individual to identify and overcome the internal and external triggers causing their addictive tendencies. Once a person understands the roots of his or her addiction, he or she can start doing the necessary work to change personal habits and thought patterns.
Many individuals struggling with addiction also have co-occurring mental health disorders such as anxiety, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder. Sometimes drug use contributes to these conditions. For others, abusing drugs is a way to self-medicate and escape from unpleasant feelings.
Individual counseling helps address addictive behaviors and teaches a person to manage any other mental health issues. After all, these conditions feed off each other. If they all aren’t addressed, it essentially sets a person up for failure.
What are the advantages of individual counseling? You get a person who will listen to your story. You can begin to understand why drugs have played a major role in your life. The therapist is a trained professional who can genuinely help you heal and grow. Instead of unloading your issues on a friend or family member, you can share with someone who has the knowledge and skills to create positive change in your life.
Some people have trouble opening up in group therapy sessions. Maybe they feel overwhelmed by other people’s stories or don’t have the appropriate assertive communication skills to contribute to a group discussion. Individual therapy is great for timid or guarded individuals who are uncomfortable in groups.
What to Expect from Individual Drug Counseling
Those starting out with counseling usually have regularly scheduled sessions for a prescribed length of time. At first, these sessions may seem awkward or uncomfortable. For many, opening up to others, especially during one-on-one therapy, is hard. A counselor fully understands this and doesn’t pry or prod. The best individual therapy sessions start organically without feeling forced. As you develop a therapeutic relationship with your counselor, however, you feel more comfortable sharing.
The information you share with a counselor starts the process of your addiction recovery. Together, you discover what caused drugs or alcohol to slowly take over your life. The counselor will help you learn new skills with individual therapy activities like role-playing or mindfulness exercises. Usually, you will also be given some “homework” like journaling activities or creating a daily schedule.
Soon, you and your counselor develop the framework for your recovery. Of course, there will be triumphs and setbacks. Because you are now comfortable with your counselor, you could celebrate the good times and troubleshoot the issues that arise.
In time, your framework becomes a solid foundation. Your counseling sessions become less frequent and eventually end as you become more confident in maintaining your sobriety.
Individual Counseling Can Change Your Life
Many people struggling with addiction believe they are living on an island. They are disconnected from others. They feel hopeless and beyond help. Individual therapy can start building the necessary bridges to bring a person struggling with addiction back to a more balanced, structured world.
If you feel like you’ve fallen into a pit of despair due to your drug use, please know help is always available. Individual drug counseling has helped many others who dealt with similar struggles, and it can help you overcome addiction too.