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How Does Addiction Counseling Work?

Addiction therapy sessions are a vital part of any treatment and recovery plan: they greatly increase the chance of successful management of the addictive behavior and greatly decrease the chance of relapse.

While no two types of addiction counseling will be exactly the same — sexual addiction counseling will have varying elements from drug addiction counseling, which will in turn be different from Internet addiction counseling, and so on — they all share some common elements, strategies and goals.

What to Expect from Addiction Therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, is a kind of psychotherapy that is often used to treat addiction patients. If they are trained in CBT, your therapist will use this approach to help you recognize illogical and otherwise negative thought patterns that are contributing to your addictive behavior. They will then work with you to actively replace these destructively distorted ways of thinking with more positive, rational ones.

Choosing Addiction Counseling Services

At your first therapy session, don’t be afraid to ask even more questions than you answer, such as: What approach(es) does the therapist use? What, in the therapist’s view, are the goals of your therapy? How long is each session and what is the expected frequency/duration of the treatment? Is the therapist available during any off-hours or in case of emergency? Finding an addiction therapist that you feel confident in and comfortable with is essential for getting the best treatment.

Some other objectives of addiction talk therapy could include:

  • Recognizing negative stressors that make you want to engage in the addictive behavior, e.g., playing video games to avoid a stressful home life
  • Identifying other triggers in your life that could tempt you to relapse, e.g., attending parties where others are drinking
  • Building and practicing constructive strategies you can use when faced with stressors and triggers
  • Planning and implementing ways to restructure your life and lifestyle in recovery to avoid known stressors and triggers, when possible
  • Setting short- and long-term goals

If you have another mental condition, like depression, anxiety or an eating disorder, the therapist will try to assess the role this condition plays in your addiction and either provide specialized treatment for it or refer you to someone who does.

Group counseling sessions with other recovering addicts might be available in addition to individual counseling. This type of counseling gives you the benefits of sharing experiences and skill-building with people who can empathize with what you’re going through and who understand the challenges of being a recovering addict.

If appropriate, your therapist will recommend group therapy in the form of family counseling, with such aims as building a stronger, better-informed support network at home or beginning the process of repairing the damage your addiction caused your family relationships.

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