The word “psychotherapy” comes from the Greek words for “soul” and “healing.” This technique has helped millions of people around the world face their problems and healthily deal with them. Therapy can help you overcome certain behaviors and become an overall better person.
In the case of addiction, therapy is an important and even necessary part of recovery. Individual therapy in particular will guide you through your sobriety journey and help you work through any other trauma in your life.
1 in 5 people in the U.S. has a mental health disorder. Learn how individual therapy can help you through mental illnesses and addiction.
Jump to Section
What is Individual Therapy?
Individual therapy is a psychological method that involves you and a mental health counselor or psychiatrist. Individual therapy comes in many different styles and formats, but talk therapy is the most popular form. People in individual therapy discuss anything that’s concerning them, including career changes, divorce, loss, and addiction. Everything you say in individual therapy is confidential.
Ancient Greeks are believed to be some of the first to observe mental health disorders as both mental and physical conditions. However, it wasn’t until the late 1700s that mental health treatment became more humane. The first asylum in North America was founded in 1773, and many towns had them by the end of the 19th century. Unfortunately, a culture of institutionalization stemmed from this, and many people in asylums weren’t allowed to leave. As a result, staff used restraints and violence on patients.
Individual therapy took a more positive direction during the 20th century. Cognitivism, systems psychology and behaviorism began to take hold, and Sigmund Freud’s talk approach became the foundation for psychoanalysis.
Individual therapy has become widely accepted throughout various parts of the world. It’s also become a required part of addiction recovery.
What to Expect in Individual Therapy
Your first individual therapy session will be one of planning and goal-setting. You and your counselor will talk about how you’ll achieve these goals, what concerns have brought you to therapy, and how many sessions you’ll need. Your therapist will also get to know you better and ask you questions about your physical and mental health. Knowing your background will help in your therapy approach.
You should also use this session to figure out if your therapist is a good fit for your needs. It’s important that you feel comfortable opening up in individual therapy. A good relationship is vital for achieving your goals. If something feels off or isn’t right, try looking for a different counselor.
The following sessions will focus on the issues you’ve decided to discuss. You’ll explore past trauma and other experiences that could have led to bad habits. It can be hard to open up to your counselor and delve into your past. Don’t be surprised if at times you become emotional, distraught, or angry during your sessions. However, this is necessary if you want to overcome your fears, learn from your mistakes, and become a better person.
Your therapist will provide you with tools and even homework to help you confront your problems. As your sessions go on, you’re likely to start developing healthier coping skills and more positive thinking patterns. You’ll learn to judge less and be more tolerant of people around you.
How Long Does Individual Therapy Last?
Individual therapy sessions last anywhere from 45 to 60 minutes. The length of your time in individual therapy depends on how much you’ve abused your substance of choice. Some people stay in therapy for the rest of their lives so they can keep themselves accountable.
What Are the Benefits of Individual Therapy?
Healthier Coping Skills
If you’ve recently lost your job or a loved one, or struggling with a mental health disorder/addiction, individual therapy can teach you how to cope. These coping skills don’t involve drugs or alcohol. Instead, they rely on science and evidence-based techniques. These coping skills stay with you long after you’ve finished treatment.
Relapse is a large concern in addiction treatment. When you relapse, you start using again after months or even years of sobriety. Relapse doesn’t just happen, though. It’s a three-stage process that begins through physical and emotional triggers. These include places where you used to take drugs, as well as stress and anxiety that could drive you to use.
Individual therapy does wonders in preventing relapses since it helps you identify your triggers. When you know what these are, you can avoid them and stay in control of your recovery and sobriety.
Better Control of Emotions
When you control your emotions, you can respond to situations with calmness and intelligence. Emotion regulation will improve your relationships with those you care about most.
Better Understanding of Self
Therapy helps you learn more about your patterns and qualities. Through each session, you gain more understanding and self-awareness. This can help you avoid certain negative behaviors to which you normally gravitate.
Types of Individual Therapy
The type of individual therapy on which you embark depends on your current situation. There is always an appropriate kind of therapy for every struggle. Read more about the different types to figure out which one you think best relates to your struggle.
Talk therapy is the most common type of individual therapy. The theory behind this is that talking about what’s bothering you can help you gain perspective and clarity. Talk therapy can include a number of methods, including cognitive behavioral therapy, which we’ll explain below.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of therapy that focuses on cognition (thoughts) and behaviors. Rather than focusing on your past, CBT looks at where you are right now. Practitioners of CBT believe that negative thoughts and behaviors have led you to make decisions that have hindered your well being. By replacing these feelings and thoughts with positive ones, you’ll make more productive decisions that benefit you in the long run.
CBT has become a popular form of therapy in addiction treatment.
Dialectical Behavior Therapy
Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is a type of CBT, but this one centers around improving relationships. People who have trouble regulating their emotions learn how to control them and communicate more effectively with others.
Marsha M. Linehan developed DBT in the 1980s as a way to treat borderline personality disorder. Since then, it’s also become useful in treating substance use disorder and other mental health conditions. You’ve likely severed a few relationships as a result of your addiction. DBT can help you mend these bonds.
Like DBT, interpersonal therapy (IPT) also builds relationship skills. IPT uses communication and attachment theories to improve bonds with friends and loved ones. Your counselor will focus on your most pressing relationship issues and use role-playing to help you grow your communication skills. IPT has been known to work well for people with depression.
How Can Individual Therapy Help With Addiction?
In many treatment centers, individual therapy is required in addiction recovery. This is because substance use disorder is much more than a physical dependence on drugs and alcohol. These substances have changed the way your brain works. For so long, you’ve felt that you needed these to feel better about yourself and deal with your problems. Even after you go through detox to rid your body of physical dependence, you still need to change the way you think about substances.
As mentioned earlier, individual therapy helps you identify physical, mental, emotional, and environmental triggers that can lead to relapse. When you learn your specific triggers, you can learn how to avoid them and stay sober. Even if you can’t avoid every trigger, you can at least know how to deal with one when you encounter it.
Individual Therapy and Co-Occurring Disorders
About 8 million people in the U.S. deal with both an addiction and a co-occurring mental health disorder. It’s not uncommon from substance use to stem from symptoms of depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder.
When you have feelings of anguish and despair, it’s natural for you to look for a solution. Although using drugs and alcohol might seem like an easy answer to your problems, it’s only temporary and makes them worse. These substances are only masking what you feel inside. The only way they can be managed is with group or individual therapy and, sometimes, medication.
To achieve full recovery, both addictions and mental health disorders need to be treated at the same time. Simultaneous treatment will ensure that you receive the proper help for your conditions. This will also help our clinicians get to the root of your addiction.
Is Individual Therapy Right for Me?
If you’re dealing with troubles that interfere with your everyday life, individual therapy might be the best option. Individual therapy Is also helpful if you’re struggling with any of the following conditions or issues:
- Eating disorders
- Family troubles
- Relationship problems
However, some in addiction recovery might find that group therapy works better. Group therapy involves several people like you in a session guided by a mental health counselor. One advantage of group therapy is that it provides a support system, and your peers will challenge you to do better. Some people find that a mixture of both individual and group therapy can be a recipe for success.
The stigma of mental health might keep some people from talking about their problems. There are many who believe that therapy is for “crazy” people. Here are a few other reasons why people might be reluctant to attend individual therapy:
- Not wanting to acknowledge that anything is wrong in their lives
- Feeling shame when talking about past trauma
- Fearing that conversations won’t stay confidential
- Not being able to afford the cost
For therapy to be effective, you must attend every session, even when you don’t feel like it. The more you attend, the more you’ll get out of it and the better you’ll feel. Therapy requires commitment and determination from you and your counselor.
Individual Therapy for Addiction Treatment at Harmony Ridge
Our therapists at Harmony Ridge Recovery Center are all licensed with the proper credentials. They’re trained in addiction recovery and can help you work through your substance use disorder. We also have numerous aftercare programs and alternative therapy methods, including yoga, tai chi, and art therapy, that will help you connect with your inner self.
Addiction is no match for the strength you have inside. You have the power to overcome and manage it and stay sober. With help from Harmony Ridge, you can achieve all of your goals and more. Reach out to us today to learn more!