Psychosocial treatment for addiction and other psychiatric disorders include both individual and group psychotherapy. There are now proven therapies which increase the likelihood of success. Many people think that therapy simply means talking. Although talking is the mechanism, a trained therapist knows how to talk in a way that actually brings about healthy change.
In drug addiction treatment, three particular types of psychotherapies have been shown by scientific research to be effective: cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), motivation enhancement therapy (MET), and 12 step facilitation (TSF).
CBT is based upon the theory that much of what we feel and how we behave is governed by our thought patterns. In the course of this therapy, people learn that they tend to have characteristic patterns to their thinking, and without realizing this, these patterns maintain unwanted feelings and behaviors. By recognizing these patterns, the therapist is able to help the individual gradually modify this thinking (much of it tends to be automatic), which then actually leads to different feelings and behaviors.
Using drugs and alcohol is always much more complicated than simply wanting to feel good. When examined closely, there are always particular patterns of thinking that fuel this behavior. MET is based upon the fact that we all experience certain mixed feelings about making changes in our lives. We actually typically go through various stages of change, but only do so when we recognize that whatever we’re doing is creating more negatives than positives. MET involves helping the individual recognize these mixed feelings and to clarify one’s thinking about these feelings. In the process, the individual appreciates in a non-judgmental atmosphere how the choices he/she has been making are undermining his/her goals. This leads to real change that the individual feels is coming from within rather than being imposed by the outside.
TSF focuses upon the principals of 12-step programs and helps the individual to develop a healthy relationship with the community of those programs. He/she is taught about the 12-step tradition and how the principals have helped people to maintain sobriety. Research has shown how involvement in the 12-step program is associated with a greater likelihood of abstinence from drugs and alcohol.
All of the above therapies have the scientific research to support them. In our treatment program, these therapies are utilized in both individual sessions as well as in group sessions. The two different modalities (individual/group) provide different benefits. Individual sessions obviously provide much more individual attention and more comprehensive and thorough understanding of the individual. However, the group modality provides an opportunity for individuals to bond, thereby decreasing stigma/shame/embarrassment that is often associated with addiction and other psychiatric problems. It also encourages the exploration of one’s denial and helps to motivate people who minimize the severity of their illness.
Finally, the group format enables people to learn from each other new coping skills and other recovery skills. The groups generally have specific agenda or themes. Our program, for example, includes a community process group, anger management group, life skills group, gender group, coping skills group, psychoeducational group, and a number of others. Together, these two modalities of treatment, individual and group therapy, facilitate the process of improving mental health.