Individual Therapy for Substance Abuse in Kokomo, Indiana
There are a number of therapeutic approaches being employed to help people with substance abuse recovery. As different people react differently to specific treatments, it is worth mentioning that many have responded quite well to individual therapy as an approach, as it has its own benefits.
It is always a good idea to seek the advice of a professional before deciding as to what particular form of substance abuse therapy to receive. These professionals know how to better assess a person’s needs, situation, and thresholds, giving them an insight as to what kind of therapy would be best.
What is Individual Therapy?
Individual therapy is traditionally a counseling method where a trained mental health clinician works one-on-one with a patient who requires direct aid in dealing with severe issues. These issues could range from substance addiction, anger, depression, physical abuse, and other similar concerns.
In most cases, those in need of counseling cannot readily open up about their issues. Individual therapy allows the patient to be in a secure and more private setting where no one else other than the one giving the therapy is present. The confidential environment helps the patient feel more at ease about conversing about their dilemma.
What Role Does Individual Therapy Play in Addiction Treatment?
Many people dealing with substance abuse admitted that they do so as a coping mechanism to some greater experienced trauma. Engaging in substance abuse gave them a moment’s respite from whatever agonizing reality they had in their personal lives.
The experienced trauma could be anything from physical or sexual abuse, childhood trauma, chronic mental issues, depression, or some personal tragedy that was too much for them to bear. Initially, using whatever substance they abused allowed them a form of escape, although the continuous need for escape led to addiction.
Individual therapy serves as a way to finally address the issues that led to the addiction, while also trying to get the patient to kick the addiction itself. By allowing them to understand how their earlier trauma put them in more trouble, the patient begins the path to accepting help to kick their bad habit.
Certain personal tragedies are things that people are willing to talk about, such as sexual or physical abuse. In other cases, they could be immensely embarrassed by the things they did to sustain their addiction, such as theft and manipulation of others. Keeping these things bottled up inside will definitely lead to even greater mental and emotional distress, which is why the sooner they receive therapy for it, the better their chances of a swift recovery.
What are the Benefits of Individual Therapy?
Many who get into an addiction barely know what got them into it. Others who do know don’t really understand the things that led them to it. There are also those who do have a greater understanding of these things, but refuse to accept that it either happened to them, or that they are unable to deal with it.
Whatever the reason might be for people to get into an addiction, it is mostly due to their inability to understand what is happening, why it happened, or how best to deal with it. In most cases, it was far easier to escape through alcohol or drugs, and the repeated needs became the addiction.
Individual therapy allows people to address these issues while being guided by a therapist. The process is usually a gradual but deeper look into the heart of the matter, while reaching a point of acceptance on the part of the person.
Victims of any kind of abuse often reach a point where the repeated ordeals push them to believe that they deserve what was happening to them. Thinking they deserve it, however, does nothing to alleviate their personal misery, pushing them to find relief where they can. Oftentimes, the easiest avenue of relief could be the bottle or the pill, which, of course, leads to addiction.
Therapy helps in establishing the fact that the patient is the victim, and did not deserve what had happened in any way. The process, however, is not as easy as it sounds. Years of abuse, denial, and addiction could bury the mental and emotional anguish even further, making therapy even more difficult.
Talking about it in individual therapy is, nevertheless, a far better exercise, as it actually seeks a solution to the issue, by way of finding some understanding, and through that, a measure of acceptance.
Many already know that alcohol and drugs are not the solutions to their issues, but they still fail to understand what makes them seek these things. There are certain triggers that a person’s mind could link to some past trauma, and upon coming across these triggers, elicit the response to get into what they are addicted to.
Many therapists discovered a surprising fact while counseling patients with substance abuse issues: they didn’t give in to their addiction because they wanted to. Rather they felt they NEEDED to. The difference here is that the need is a response mechanism to something that triggered it.
One of the goals of individual therapy is to establish what these triggers are, so that a better response could be formulated, one that does not involve substance abuse. Should this not work, another method would be avoiding the triggers, since now they are already known, and could be identified as they come.
Getting into substance abuse is mostly about reacting to something. When a person reacts, they mostly do so without thinking much about it. That means their frame of mind is not to find a lasting solution, but rather to find something to solve the issue for the moment.
Individual therapy seeks to create a better frame of mind in the person, one that guides them to finding how best to solve the issue so it does not lead to other issues, which could be worse.
A better frame of mind in dealing with trauma is to accept things for what they are, and deal with whatever is currently affecting them relevant to it. Traumatic memories are painful, but that does not mean doing drugs will make it better, nor will it make the trauma go away.
Doing drugs and getting drunk are not helpful coping skills. These things are just forms of escapism, a quick attempt to get away from the problem, which would definitely come back once the high or the buzz is over.
Healthy coping skills are those that seek to ease the pain of trauma by refocusing the attention of the mind somewhere else. This could come in the form of doing art, listening to music, or getting busy with work.
Coping skills are not really meant to solve the problem immediately or permanently. They are merely intended to prevent a person from giving in to knee-jerk responses, which are often bad. It is these knee-jerk responses, repeated over a period of time, that led to the addiction.
While there is nothing more that could be done about past trauma, further bottling it up will not help in any way. Keeping it inside for longer could actually make things worse by driving a person deeper into an addiction, or lead the person to a breakdown.
Individual therapy is actually a communication exercise that seeks to release pent-up pain and emotional hurt. The simple act of sharing it with someone else is already an immediate relief for many, which is why therapists are highly sought.
Humans are social creatures, and the relief that comes to a person after getting something off their chest is proof of it. Individual therapy wins in this situation because people going through something will not open up about it with a crowd. Talking about it with another person, even in confidence, is still a social exercise and helps greatly.
What Are the Treatment Methods Used in Individual Therapy?
There are a few methods involved in individual therapy designed to address the ‘why’ people do what they do when they react to a specific trauma.
Reacting to a problem rather than pausing to think about it to find a solution is a normal thing for people. This is because the problem may already be clouding the better judgment of the person, hence, a logical solution might not be arrived at.
Cognitive behavioral therapy seeks to identify what the more destructive automatic responses might have to a situation, and change it into something more productive. A person could respond badly to trouble because they never learned to come up with a better response to it.
CBT seeks to adjust this behavior by letting the person know that a knee-jerk response is usually bad, and that there are better ways to deal with it.
DBT is a modified version of CBT, aimed primarily at identifying why a person has difficulty regulating their emotions, or why people tend to engage in self-destructive behavior in response to specific trauma.
This method seeks to make the person realize that their most common response to a bad situation could actually make everything worse. It also seeks to find out why the reaction taken is that which is known to make things worse.
Many cases in psychology will disprove the saying that time heals all wounds. In the case of personal tragedy or trauma, time spent not processing it could actually make it worse.
Time could only serve to make the person forget about the particulars of the trauma, but not the pain and suffering that they experienced relevant to it. This bottled up pain comes up when exposed to something similar in nature to the original trauma, making the person respond without thinking.
This method targets the actual trauma itself and allows the person to confront it and understand how it affects them, and continues to affect them, without them actually realizing it.
A person suffering from a form of substance abuse could be doing so because they had motivation to do so. Motivational interviewing seeks to find some understanding of what this motivation is, why it keeps on repeating itself, and how it really affects the person.
A person’s behavior always comes with a motivation as to why they exhibit it. Unless they have mental issues that involve a lack of impulse control, no one really does something without a motivation behind it. Applied to helping people out of an addiction, this seeks to establish what a person’s motivations might be regarding substance abuse.
Understanding the motivation leads to an insight as to why a person reacts in the way they do. In the case of substance abuse, it isolates why they are motivated to take substances. Having a better understanding of the motivation leads to the realization that the motivation led to constructive or destructive behavior.
What Should Someone Expect in an Individual Therapy Program?
The first thing a person could expect is that everything discussed is done so with the utmost confidentiality. The entire purpose of the exercise is to help the person get treatment for an underlying issue, not become the subject of widespread gossip.
The environment of individual therapy is one of privacy, emotional security, and mental wellness, all intended to help the patient discuss intimate matters with the therapist.
The practice of individual therapy does not make any provisions for the patient to be judged for what they did. It is understood that certain troubles brought them to a situation where they need help, and this is where emotional and mental support comes in.
Helping people understand that they are not responsible for the trauma they received will definitely not happen if they are made to think they deserved what happened to them. Only a nurturing and supportive atmosphere will help them with the needed realizations during therapy.
Therapists will allow patients the time to get comfortable enough to open up about their troubles. The patients, however, do need to open up and engage in a conversation at some point, or the entire process will simply not work.
People looking into individual therapy need to understand that the conversation is not meant to highlight the flaws in a person’s character or personality. What it seeks is to get to the possible reasons why the person’s behavior became self-destructive to the point they went into substance abuse.
The result of delving deep into past experiences and traumas will inevitably lead to some realizations about the patient. It could be about why they got into substance abuse, or why things turned out the way they did and led them into self-destructive behavior.
These realizations will be completely based on whatever it is that the patient opens up about, and not about speculations the therapist or anyone else might have about the patient.
Find Help at First City Recovery Center
Therapy is not just about talking but also about reaching a solution aimed at a person’s betterment. This is particularly true for people with individual substance abuse counseling.
It’s not about the mistakes that were made that led a person to do something they shouldn’t have. It’s about understanding that mistakes will happen because people make mistakes, and about how mistakes don’t define who we are, and how much better we could become.
Talk to us now at First City Recovery Center. We know how to listen.
Dr. Vahid Osman, MD is a psychiatry specialist in Indianapolis, IN.
Dr. Osman completed a residency at Austin State Hospital. He has over 32 years of experience in Psychiatry & Behavioral Health. He is board certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology.