Individual therapy is talking psychotherapy that uses psychological methods to help someone overcome addictions, other mental and behavioural health problems, negative beliefs, as well as improve relationships and social skills. There are hundreds of psychotherapy techniques from cognitive behavioural therapy to interpersonal therapy and psychodynamic therapy to transactional analysis.
Recovery from addiction is not just about stopping the use of substances or problematic behaviours. Individually delivered psychotherapy is an important part of any treatment programme for addiction. Long-term freedom from addiction is achieved by looking at the underlying causes of developing an addiction and resolving these issues in order to experience sustained recovery.
How One-on-One Therapy Works in Addiction Rehab
Individual therapy gives you a safe space to speak in complete privacy and confidentiality with a specialist therapist about anything you might be struggling with. You don’t need to be in crisis to have individual therapy. It can help with emotional or mental health problems that occur alongside addiction, including:
- dealing with stress
- eating disorders
- bereavement or loss
- lack of confidence
- coping with the effects of abuse
- feelings of depression, sadness, grief, or emptiness
- mood swings
- difficulty with relationships
- sexual dysfunction
- obsessive-compulsive behaviour
- panic attacks and phobias
It is well established that psychotherapy is remarkably effective and research shows that most people who receive psychotherapy experience symptom relief and are better able to function in their lives.
What Does One-To-One Therapy Involve?
If you have never had therapy, it can be a daunting prospect, but therapists are invested in you being comfortable. Individual therapy is an egalitarian and joint process between you and your therapist.
Individual therapy sessions are typically held once a week for 50 mins to one hour on an outpatient basis and perhaps more often as part of an inpatient addiction treatment programme. Psychotherapy can be short-term to deal with immediate issues, or long-term to look at and resolve longstanding and more complex issues. The goals of treatment and arrangements for how often and how long to meet will be agreed upon with a therapist if you are seeking treatment on an outpatient basis.
Psychotherapy can be a life-changing experience, helping you to improve your mental health, and overcome social or emotional challenges. During individual therapy sessions, your therapist may help you to:
- start identifying and expressing your feelings
- process your feelings in a safe and supportive environment
- build self-awareness
- talk about things that you might feel unable to discuss with friends and family
- cope with feelings in a healthy way
- change the way you respond to external stressors or triggers
- improve relationships whether that is with yourself, family or friends
- confront deep-rooted personal issues, which can include trauma
- feel motivated to achieve and maintain recovery through abstinence
- change attitudes and behaviours that may cause relapse
- better understand the nature of addiction
- address the impact addiction has had on your life
Talking about your feelings might be difficult, to begin with, but your therapist will guide you through the process. During a session, you might cry, get upset or even angry. This is very normal and is even expected. Despite this, it can feel unsettling and intense if you aren’t used to expressing your emotions. Your therapist is trained to hold the space whilst you unpack your thoughts and feelings.
Many kinds of mental health professionals can provide therapy depending on the type of therapy and qualifications required. social workers, community mental health nurses, occupational therapists, psychiatrists, psychologists, mental health pharmacists, counsellors, and community support workers can all provide therapeutic services.
Why Is Individual Therapy Used in Addiction Treatment?
Getting clean and sober is a major achievement, particularly if you have been through a detox process. This is the start of the long process through which you learn, by experience, to manage any cravings that arise, navigate triggers, and avoid relapse.
Individual therapy is one of the foundations of substance use disorder treatment for many people as addiction is a complex disease, far more than just a physical dependence on drugs or alcohol. Addictions are a mental illness and individual therapy addresses the underlying causes of the disease, helping people improve their relationships with the past, the consequences of their addictions, and start to change their behaviour.
Individual Therapy vs Group Therapy
Individual therapy occurs when someone is engaging in therapy with a psychologist, counsellor, therapist, or psychiatrist in a private setting. Group therapy is loosely defined but only occurs when more than one person is treated together in a formal therapeutic environment. Both are integral to recovery from addiction and significant components of addiction treatment programmes.
Individual therapy may include cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) which is widely used in addiction treatment. CBT helps people identify what needs to be changed in their lives, and through working collaboratively with a therapist begin to implement these changes.
If struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) which is characterised by flashbacks, nightmares, and intrusive images (to name just a few symptoms), trauma-based individual therapy may be recommended.
If you are experiencing grief alongside addiction, you may be struggling with overwhelming feelings. As part of your addiction treatment, you may have grief-specific individual therapy.
Group therapy enhances self-awareness and insight through sharing experiences with peers who are also recovering from addiction. Group members work together, support each other, and the positive change seen in others inspires hope.
Group therapy, facilitated by a trained and experienced therapist, is usually an integral part of a treatment programme. In group therapy, you may process feelings that come up within the group, tell personal stories and complete written tasks which are presented to the group. The insights and feedback from the group help deepen your understanding of your addiction.
Individual Therapy at Smaremore Castle?
Every person that comes to Smarmore Castle has a unique set of circumstances that brought them to treatment and a tailored programme allows us to investigate the factors behind someone’s addiction on a case-by-case basis. Therapies you might benefit from will be established following a comprehensive clinical assessment.
Some therapists at Smarmore Castle have personal experience of recovery meaning they are uniquely placed to support you in recovering from addiction. All our therapists are highly qualified and experienced individuals. Naturally, they take a discreet and sensitive approach to therapy, encouraging clients to talk about matters they may find difficult to share.
As part of Smarmore Castle’s addiction treatment programme, individual addiction therapy options provide coping mechanisms and relapse prevention strategies to help those struggling with addiction deal with cravings and life’s triggers.
Other therapies focus on underlying issues that trigger addictive behaviour. For instance, addictions have a significant rate of comorbidity with other mental disorders. As such, substance abuse may initially have been a way of self-medicating to relieve negative symptoms of other mental disorders: anxiety, depression, mood and personality disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), complex post-traumatic stress disorder (CPTSD), and developmental trauma to name a few. Addiction therapy can address these issues to remove the need to self-medicate and prevent mental disorders from triggering a relapse.
Addiction Therapy FAQs
What Are the Four Stages of the Addiction Cycle?
The four stages of addiction are experimentation, regular use, high-risk use, and finally addiction.
Experimentation is the voluntary use of drugs without experiencing any negative consequences. The person using a substance primarily views this instance of getting high or drunk as a one-time occurrence. Those who can stop using by themselves will do so. Those who feel drugs and/or alcohol will continue to make them feel good or solve their problems will start to use mood-altering substances regularly.
Regular use is when some engage in the use of drugs or alcohol more often without developing an addiction. For some, the risk for dependence greatly increases during this stage. For the latter, substance use becomes routine however, they may feel they can stop use voluntarily. Some during this stage may develop feelings of guilt about their behaviour but may continue to justify it.
High-risk use is the continued use of drugs or alcohol which has now become a priority, despite consequences. Withdrawal symptoms may now be present when use stops which drives people to do things they wouldn’t normally do get hold of drugs or alcohol.
Addiction is a complete dependency upon a substance without which someone experiences withdrawal syndromes and often cannot safely stop using without medical support. At this stage, the person struggling with addiction may be spending most of their time under the influence. Once addiction has been developed, despite the consequences, the person is unable to stop.
What Is the Best Treatment System for Addiction?
The most effective treatment for addiction has been shown to be a 360-degree approach where all facets of someone’s health and wellbeing are treated. Addiction treatment usually includes detox (if required), individual therapy, group therapy, family therapy, complementary therapies, 12-step groups, trauma resolution, a healthy diet, and regular exercise.
What Is the First Step in Treating Addiction?
When someone seeks help for addiction, the first step in ensuring that person receives the most effective support is a clinical assessment. This in-depth process involves gathering information to form a complete picture of someone’s addiction. The assessment will help determine a diagnosis and create a treatment plan specific to each person’s individual needs.
If you would like more information about therapy and addiction treatment provided by Smarmore Castle, please feel free to contact our admissions team. They are here to help.
Get in touch todayTo find out how we can help you, please telephone Smarmore Castle on our 24-Hour Helpline: 041 214 5111 or click here to arrange a free addiction assessment. You're almost there.
Last updated & clinically assessed 8 July, 2022