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Hippocrates, the founder of medicine as a science, wrote, “The natural healing force within each one of us is the greatest force in getting well.” The mind is a powerful thing, and everyone is capable of subconscious beliefs that may not jive with reality and which can keep us in perpetual patterns of dysfunction. Psychotherapy, or talk therapy, helps you tap into your subconscious to confront these false beliefs and learn to become mindful of your thoughts and behaviors and how they affect your physical and mental health.

Various types of psychotherapies serve different purposes, but in the end, they all strive to bring mental clarity and help you identify and change unhealthy ideas, attitudes, thoughts and behaviors.

Psychotherapy is essential for helping you recover from a drug or alcohol addiction, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Treating an addiction or mental illness—or both—is largely a matter of delving into the issues that helped shape it and learning strategies for coping with symptoms, cravings, triggers and stress.

Individual vs. Group Therapy

A high-quality drug or alcohol treatment program utilizes both individual and group therapy to help patients overcome an addiction. Individual therapy involves just you and a therapist. It provides the opportunity to dig deep and carefully sort through various issues that impact your attitudes and behaviors and to develop highly personalized coping strategies.

Group therapy typically involves six or more individuals and a therapist. Group therapy provides social reinforcement and support, a high level of personal accountability and the opportunity to help and learn from others experiencing similar circumstances.

Types of Psychotherapy Used in Treatment

The National Institutes of Health points out that there is no single therapy that’s effective for every person in treatment. The therapies that will best support a patient’s recovery are chosen based on individual need. Three of the most common therapies used in treatment, either alone or combined with other therapies, are cognitive-behavioral therapy, family therapy and motivational enhancement therapy.

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a combination of cognitive therapy and behavioral therapy that focuses on addressing your ideas and beliefs and how they influence your emotions and behaviors. CBT helps you change unhealthy thought and behavior patterns to solve problems, relate better to others and curb self-destructive behaviors.

Family Therapy

A large body of research points to the essential role families play in the recovery of a loved one. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration cites addiction as a family disease, affecting each member and creating dysfunction in the family system. Family therapy is designed to meet the needs of all family members to restore function to the family unit by addressing various issues, improving communication skills among family members and repairing the damage done by the addiction.

Motivational Enhancement Therapy

Motivational enhancement therapy is collaborative, empathetic and supportive, and it’s designed to help people who are ambivalent toward recovery identify their intrinsic motivations for wanting to make positive changes. The therapist follows a line of questioning and conversation that leads the patient to make self-motivational and value statements that activate the desire to fully engage in recovery.

Ongoing Therapy in Aftercare

Engagement in psychotherapy doesn’t end when treatment is complete. The aftercare plan that’s set in place after treatment will include ongoing group, individual and family therapy that will build on the momentum and motivation gained during treatment and help you continue to work through issues central to your addiction. Ongoing therapy is shown to help prevent relapse, and it’s essential for the successful transition from recovery to “real” life, helping you cope with stresses, triggers and high-risk situations as well as the emerging issues that you may encounter once you return to the community.

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Psychotherapy: an Essential Component in Treatment and Recovery
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