In general, counseling takes the form of a series of one-on-one sessions with a professional Addiction and Mental Health Professional. One of the biggest advantages to this approach is that it is completely customizable. The therapist focuses only on you for the entire session, instead of having to structure a session to cater to a group.
While the process of talking about some deeply personal matters may be difficult in the beginning, a good therapist will allow you take the time you need to feel safe and comfortable. You can be assured of complete confidentiality during these sessions: while your therapist may discuss your progress with the rest of your therapeutic team, the actual conversations that happen are not shared.
There are several forms of individual therapy. These are selected through a combination of preference and fit.
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Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)
Cognitive behavioural therapy, or CBT, is a short-term course of therapy that is designed to deal with a specific issue. Under the guidance of your therapist, you will learn to identify the thoughts, feelings and beliefs that are holding you back from achieving a goal.
Once you have identified these obstacles, you will be able to learn how to overcome them by replacing the negative thoughts and behaviours with more positive ones. Unlike many forms of individual therapy, which focus on past events, CBT focuses on what is happening in the present.
CBT is an effective form of therapy for people who suffer from a variety of conditions that commonly occur alongside addiction, such as:
- Anxiety and panic disorders
- Depression, including postpartum depression and seasonal affective disorder (SAD)
- Bipolar disorder
- Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Eating disorders, including anorexia nervosa, bulimia and binge eating disorder
- Borderline personality disorder
- Sleep disorders, including insomnia
Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT)
Dialectical behavioural therapy (DBT) is a form of CBT, but in addition to working on aspects of your thoughts and beliefs that you can change. Also, you are encouraged to accept things beyond your control that you cannot change.
DBT has a good track record of helping people navigate the stress of change when they are back in the real world. This makes it a good choice of therapy for people who do not have a strong support system at home, and who may therefore face significant challenges when it comes to the transition from inpatient rehab to real life.
DBT is highly effective as a tool for helping people who show self-destructive tendencies, including addiction, eating disorders, and suicidal thoughts.
Interpersonal Therapy (IPT)
Interpersonal therapy (IPT) is based on the idea that depression sometimes stems from difficulties in your relationships with the people around you. It is a structured course of therapy that focuses on how you can improve the way in which you interact with the people you have various kinds of relationships with.
The idea is that in improving your ability to participate in positive interpersonal relationships, you will be able to build up a stronger network of social support that can help you when you make the transition from rehab to the real world.
The experiences of our early years can shape our thoughts and beliefs well into adulthood, and this can lead to destructive ways of thinking and acting. A lot of substance use disorders stem from trauma or abuse, either witnessed or experienced. Exploring these memories can be painful and overwhelming.
Psychodynamic therapy gives you a way to delve into your past experiences in a safe environment, and to understand how these have affected your relationships, decisions, and actions.
This puts you in a better position to move past self-destructive thoughts, beliefs and behaviours stemming from them. By dealing with the root cause of your addiction, you are much more likely to achieve long-term sobriety.
Solutions-focused therapy is based on the idea that it doesn’t matter why a problem exists; instead, the focus is on the fact that the problem does exist and that a solution needs to be found to resolve it. There is no deep dive into the past, as there is with psychodynamic therapy: the focus is on the challenges that you are facing in the here and now.
Through a structured series of questions and answers, the therapist will help you determine which specific challenges you need to find solutions for. You will work on identifying which personal strengths and attributes you already have that can help you, rather than trying to learn a whole new set of skills that may not be a good fit for your personality.
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