Determining Therapeutic Needs for a Patient

When it comes to substance abuse therapy, the types of treatment available are varied, complex, and numerous. When it comes to treating a patient in the most optimal manner possible, treatment professionals have to choose the therapies they feel would work best for the particular client in question. Below is some information to clarify the various modes of useful therapeutic treatment that may be found in recovery and the types of clients who may benefit from each form.

The Starting Point

couple in therapy to figure out their therapeutic needs while in substance abuse therapy

Psych Central says there are hundreds of types of therapies being offered to patients today. Often, various strategies are used together as part of an overall treatment plan to address the particular set of circumstances the patient is facing. There are myriad factors that determine what types of therapy are most suitable for clients undergoing substance abuse treatment, including:

  • Level of addiction
  • Types of behaviors the person is currently exhibiting
  • Types of behaviors the person wishes to employ in the future
  • Kinds of substances involved
  • Situations the person faces in life currently or will face after treatment

Most often, clients in recovery will participate in some form of both individual and group therapy. Both forms of therapy attempt to identify and address the underlying causes that led to substance abuse in the first place. Individual therapy is essential to work through personal issues, as the nature of the one-on-one aspect often allows for more growth in a shorter period of time.

That being said, great gains can be made in group therapy, often due to the supportive aspect of the group setting. Participants can learn from the experiences of others and feel less alone in their recovery journeys. Unlike 12-Step or peer support meetings, group therapy is led by a professional therapist, allowing for more direction and feedback.

Types of Therapeutic Modalities

After an initial assessment, the therapist or treatment team determines the best methods of therapy to use with a new patient. Therapists often specialize in a specific treatment modality and that will often greatly influence the type of therapy chosen for a patient. In many rehabilitation settings, people with different therapeutic backgrounds may make up the treatment team, allowing clients to work with the therapist who is best suited for their particular situation.

Oftentimes, clients receive a variety of therapy approaches as part of the greater treatment plan. The treatment approach should be assessed on a regular basis, and changes should be made according to the client’s response to treatment and progress in recovery.

A few of the therapy types that are often used in addiction treatment include the following:

  • Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT): Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a common kind of talk therapy. According to Mayo Clinic, CBT is a structured, session-based therapy where clients talk openly with a counselor or therapist to discover the kinds of messages and thinking that are contributing to their challenges in life. Through talking, clients are able to identify issues in their lives and ideas that have contributed to those problems, in order to address them more effectively. In cases of drug and alcohol addiction, co-occurring mental health issues are common. If depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, or other mental health disorders are present, CBT can help clients identify patterns of thinking that are contributing to the mental health issue. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America speaks very favorably of CBT, saying that it can bring about powerful results. CBT can help clients feel involved in their own recovery process and develop a sense of self-control, allowing them to resist relapse and find a firm foundation in recovery.
  • Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT): Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy has a lot in common with CBT. It focuses on helping clients notice their habitual and automatic negative thinking so that more positive thought patterns can be established. This therapy was founded and established by Albert Ellis, and the Albert Ellis Institute tells us that REBT is action-based. It helps individuals to identify and challenge their own self-limiting beliefs with ones that are more health-oriented to promote personal wellbeing. Mayo Clinic tells us that REBT is an effective treatment, providing tools boost psychological wellness. REBT is often recommended for those looking for a shorter-term therapy and quick relief from psychological symptoms. Therapeutic benefits are often attained after 10-20 sessions, and it can be done in either an individual or group setting.
  • Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR): Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing therapy is designed for those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), or for those who have experienced other kinds of trauma, such as physical violence, rape, wartime trauma, natural disasters, domestic violence, and other terrifying life events. The EMDR Institute explains that this therapy helps clients cope with distress caused by harrowing experiences by using techniques that unblock memories and allow for healing to occur.EMDR occurs over a series of sessions, where the practitioner utilizes eye movements – or other bilateral stimulation – during part of the session. The client is asked to focus on particular parts of past memory and to track the movement of light, which the therapist guides, with their eyes. As the therapist guides the client’s observation within a narrow field of vision, the client experiences an REM-like (rapid eye movement) state and is then able to process the memories with new insight.While the physiological component of EMDR is somewhat controversial and still being studied, clients often report feeling empowered and transformed by experiencing this mode of therapy. EMDR has become more widely studied in the last two decades, and been recognized by the American Psychiatric Association, the Department of Defense, and the World Health Organization as an effective therapeutic tool in some instances. Therapists may find it is a good choice for clients who are battling addiction and have experienced one or more traumatic events that may be contributing to their struggles.
  • Motivational Interviewing (MI): The Center for Evidence-Based Practices (CEBP) explains that Motivational Interviewing (MI) is a well-researched modality that is specifically meant to help those who are ambivalent toward making changes in their lives. Fundamentally conversation-based, MI therapists work with clients to discover what behaviors need to be changed, and help clients to verbalize their own motivations and reasons for seeking something change.Motivational Interviewing is encouraging and positive, and helps clients bolster their understanding of what adjustments are necessary to achieve a more positive life. MI works to build confidence in the notion that even small changes can lead to meaningful improvements. This modality is a good choice for clients who are aware of the role that substances have in their lives, but are uncertain or hesitant about the need for real change. With Motivational Interviewing, a client may be able to discover a true desire for treatment and help.

Choosing the Best Path

The above therapies are just some of the many treatment modalities available. There are literally hundreds of counseling techniques and schools of thought when it comes to substance abuse and addiction treatment, and there are many effective therapeutic pathways on the journey to recovery.

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