Psychotherapy 101: The Basics

The Benefits of Psychotherapy

There are likely few people who couldn’t benefit from therapy, at least at some point in their lives. Psychotherapy, frequently referred to as talk therapy, provides people who are suffering with pronounced stress, depression, anxiety, grief, or even addiction with a neutral setting for discussing their problems. It helps uncover how their emotions or behaviors contribute to their problems, and how they can find solutions for coping with aspects of their lives in healthy ways that contribute substantially to improved well-being. Psychotherapy targets the core reasons behind why the individual abuses drugs or alcohol, and it can help develop methods to eliminate addictive substances so they can reach their goal of long-term sobriety.

Psychotherapy: It’s Not for “Crazy” People

Too often people who could benefit from psychotherapy avoid it because they have the mistaken notion that it is for “crazy” people. In today’s world, we throw that word around too casually, perpetuating the stigmatization of those with mental illness or who is looking for treatment. While therapy is important for people who have chronic mental conditions like depression or bipolar disorder, it can also profoundly help those who have struggle with addiction or people who are going through a life crisis. Further, addiction and mental illness often go hand-in-hand, requiring specialized treatment and knowledgeable therapists.

For people suffering from addiction, psychotherapy is among the best options for helping sufferers overcome the mental and behavioral aspects of alcohol or drug addiction. Why do you only drink when you’re angry? Why did you turn to drugs in the first place? A therapist might ask similar questions in order to help each patient understand what led them to abuse addictive substances. By understanding how emotions impact these life choices, recovering addicts can learn new strategies to cope, that do not involve alcohol or drugs.

What Happens During Therapy Sessions?

Psychotherapy is a process that can lead to healing through discussion. While meeting with a therapist, patients can discover constructive methods for coping with problems or negative emotions. Most types of therapy are goal-oriented or are focused on a particular kind of problem to solve. In the case of addiction, for example, therapists and patients are ultimately trying to lay the foundation for a life of sobriety and will work on strategies for avoiding relapse. Psychotherapy can help individuals suffering from a traumatic event, years of addiction, chronic mental health issues or who have anger management problems – its uses are incredibly varied and effective treating a myriad of problems and conditions.

Types Of Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy is a type of umbrella term for various therapies like group counseling, family therapy, behavior therapy, and cognitive therapy. An addiction specialist will talk to you about available options so you can determine what types of psychotherapy may work best for you. For those who may be reluctant to meet with a therapist, keep in mind that it can’t hurt to learn new ways to cope with the negativity in your life, and there is every likelihood that it will enhance your recovery process just as it has done for so many other people who have struggled at some point in their lives.

Psychotherapy isn’t just talking about a person’s feelings without a goal in mind. Instead, there are several different types that a person struggling with substance abuse addiction may respond to. These include:

  • Coping-Focused Psychotherapy: This therapy type aims to address specific issues, such as anxiety, panic, and relapse prevention with solution-oriented suggestions.
  • Exploratory Psychotherapy: This therapy type does focus on past events and memories to help a person organize his/her thoughts about painful past experiences. This type is helpful for people who also struggle with anxiety.
  • Social Skills/Interpersonal/Growth Psychotherapy: Many people who struggle with substance abuse have difficulty maintaining relationships due to their self-destructive nature. This therapy type aims to enhance a person’s ability to maintain relationships with significant others and family.
  • Supportive Psychotherapy: This psychotherapy type focuses on the present and future, not the past. This is beneficial for those who may not wish to explore painful memories in therapy.

Depending on your unique struggles, your therapist may utilize multiple psychotherapy approaches to help you manage a mental illness and/or an addiction.

What Are the Benefits of Psychotherapy?

Psychotherapy is a healing opportunity for people struggling with substance abuse as well as for their loved ones. Examples of benefits include:

  • Empowering a person to live a life free from substance abuse
  • Learning coping skills when temptations to return to substance abuse arise
  • Learning how to express emotions in a healthier way
  • Learning how to function as a better partner, friend and family member
  • Releasing toxic and/or traumatic past experiences to move forward

If you or a loved one is struggling and could benefit from psychotherapy, do not hesitate to reach out. The Mental Health Center at Destination Hope has various programs and treatment paths that provide a person with the support and resources necessary to achieve a happier, healthier life.

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