Individual therapy offers a safe, private space to process the difficult experiences that accompany addiction. Through therapy, individuals can discover barriers to their own wellness and address concerns related to those barriers. With the support of a mental health professional or psychotherapist, individuals can begin setting goals to achieve and maintain addiction recovery.
How Individual Therapy Works
Individual therapy is one-on-one therapy between an individual and a psychotherapist, such as a psychiatrist or a psychologist. What is said in individual therapy is private, and the therapist is required to maintain confidentiality in all cases unless the client is a danger to themselves or others.
This means that individual therapy allows for deeper dives into the 9private concerns of the client. It offers an established safe space to uncover and recognize ideas that are not serving the client, such as negative self-talk. Together with the therapist, the client is able to dismantle ideas that are not useful to recovery and create goals that support wellness.
Supporting Addiction Recovery With Individual Therapy
This is especially helpful in addiction recovery because addiction can stem from the need to avoid those harder topics that come up in individual therapy. By having a safe, private space to process difficult experiences, the individual is better prepared to face the ins and outs of their addiction.
In addition, individual therapy can be accompanied by medication-assisted treatment (MAT), which is used to support detox and ease withdrawal from substances, including opioids and alcohol. MAT is tendered under the professional care of a therapist who can make or recommend medication adjustments to better address each individual’s needs.
Finally, individual therapy can be accompanied by group therapy, so the individual has a private space to process but also has access to peers who are undertaking a similar journey. This grants the individual the ability to address concerns in private and, if they wish, share what they’ve learned with a group. Having a peer group during recovery offers community and supports the recovery process.
What You Might Address in Individual Therapy
If you are wondering what you might address in individual therapy, there are many possibilities. Previously mentioned was negative self-talk. Sometimes the voice in our heads doesn’t match reality. It beats us down, and this may stem from a held core belief about our value and worth. Working with a therapist to uncover and address that belief can ease the cruelty of our inner dialogue. Other topics that may come up include:
- Identifying and practicing coping skills and addressing stress and anxiety
- Learning social skills that support healthy interactions with others, such as boundaries
- Meditation, breathing exercises, or other mindfulness and relaxation techniques
- Raising consciousness of emotions and behaviors by tracking them in order to understand the impact of each on the other
- The creation of a safety plan in cases where there are thoughts of self-harm or suicide. This includes the recognition of warning signs and the use of coping strategies such as reaching out to family, friends, or emergency personnel.
- Support in exploring difficult personal thoughts or experiences.
- Exposure therapy — a type of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) — for those with anxiety disorders. During exposure therapy, the individual spends brief periods of time in a supportive environment, learning to tolerate the distress caused by certain ideas, objects, or imagined scenarios; the goal is that the fear will dissipate over time.
Benefits of Individual Therapy
Confidentiality is key when it comes to individual therapy benefits. Having a safe and supportive space where you can express your deepest concerns allows you to process topics you may have previously avoided. Additionally, working with a therapist who has your best interests in mind and is present with the goal of hearing and supporting you can be validating in a way you may not have experienced previously.
It is easier to express frustrations and concerns when you know that doing so is not going to harm another person or your relationship with them. Understanding your own needs is also easier with someone whose goals reflect back to you what they hear you say so that you can gain clarity going forward.
In addition, individual therapy allows for the creation of a relationship between you and your therapist, meaning any plan you develop together is based on your individualized needs. There is no cookie-cutter methodology involved, as the plan is based on what you bring up and is built around actions you can take for the improvement of your life.
Your therapist is there just for you during the time you are together. Because the relationship is ongoing, you are able to bring up multiple topics and address them in order of importance. Being the priority can sometimes feel new and scary, but prioritizing your needs makes you better able to meet the demands of life outside therapy.
Individual therapy takes place in a private setting between a psychotherapist and an individual. The therapist and client work together to establish a safe space to process the difficult experiences that can accompany addiction. This private and safe space allows individuals to address topics they might not otherwise feel comfortable engaging. Medication-assisted treatment can accompany individual therapy where necessary. By establishing a safe environment, individuals can address barriers to and concerns about recovery while setting recovery goals. If you or someone you love is ready to begin addiction recovery or needs support in this process, contact West Coast Recovery Centers at (760) 492-6509 to learn more about how individual therapy can benefit you.