Mental health refers to a person’s overall psychological well-being. The goal of mental health therapy is to restore psychological balance if it has been disrupted. Drug addiction refers to a substance use disorder involving prescription or illicit substances or alcohol. The goal of addiction therapy is to help an individual overcome their physical dependence on drugs and also address underlying mental health issues.
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Different Therapy Types
Many therapies exist that address addiction and mental health issues simultaneously. However, these options differ by the treatment facility and the specific addiction a person struggles with. Addiction and mental health treatments are not one-size-fits-all.
Different types of therapy for addiction and mental health issues may include psychotherapy (talk therapy), substance abuse counseling, behavioral therapies and group therapy, among other interventions.
Some types of therapy will work for some people and will not work for others. Nevertheless, the overall goal of any therapy is to help an individual understand their struggles, whether those involve mental health issues, addiction or both.
A treatment modality refers to any method or approach a medical professional uses to treat individuals with certain diseases, disorders, addictions or conditions.
In the case of mental health, there are several clinical treatment modalities to address and improve an individual’s overall psychological well-being.
Some common treatment modalities for mental health and addiction usually include:
- Psychiatric interventions: individual, group or family psychotherapy
- Behavioral therapy: cognitive behavioral therapy, exposure therapy, interpersonal therapy, dialectical behavioral therapy, psychodynamic psychotherapy
- Somatic treatments: medical interventions, e.g., medication
Individual therapy takes place between a person struggling with a mental health condition or addiction and a medical professional or someone trained in psychotherapy techniques.
Psychotherapy, often called talk therapy, helps people discover and change their troubling thoughts and unhealthy emotional patterns. Individual therapy seeks to address many different factors, including:
- Techniques for coping with stress
- Understanding why certain behavior patterns are unhealthy and how to change those patterns
- Offering emotional support during difficult and turbulent times
Unlike individual therapy, group therapy involves two or more individuals that were previously unfamiliar with each other. These individuals are usually struggling with the same mental health conditions or addictions.
Group therapy provides an avenue for open communication between individuals that share similar struggles. Additionally, techniques that people learn in group therapy can be practiced in a social setting, rather than between an individual and their therapist.
Group therapy seeks to:
- Help individuals with substance use disorders process their thoughts, feelings and actions about substance abuse, as well as those of other people
- Help detect when situations may predispose an individual to use substances
- Facilitate an environment of support and acceptance
Unlike individual or group therapy, family therapy includes a person and their family members, guardians or close friends, and a licensed medical or mental health professional. The goal of family therapy is to treat the family as a whole, with each person contributing a unique and important perspective that helps heal interpersonal relationships.
Family therapy helps families:
- Help individuals who struggle with addiction realize that their behaviors have an impact on everyone in the family
- Improve strained relationships and the general family dynamic
- Offer proper support to the family member who struggles with addiction
Couples therapy (or for those who are married, marriage counseling) involves repairing a strained relationship between a person and their life partner. In the case of couples counseling in the rehab setting, a person with a substance use disorder may seek to mend a relationship that has been broken on account of their substance use.
Couples therapy helps people:
- Help identify and address specific problems in a relationship
- Help couples work collaboratively to address these problems
- Help improve distressed relationships
Intensive therapy refers to therapy where an individual opts to receive more frequent treatment, rather than once or twice weekly.
Intensive therapy aims to:
- Establish a set of rules an individual must obey while in therapy
- Provide educational resources for an individual struggling with a substance use disorder
- Address underlying mental health conditions and co-occurring substance use disorders
With online therapy and counseling, people with substance use disorders can receive therapy services over the internet or phone. The Recovery Village offers teletherapy treatment for those who are struggling with substance abuse and mental health issues. Learn the options and benefits of telehealth services to decide if it’s right for your recovery.
Developed in the 1960s, behavioral therapies classified mood disorders, such as depression, as cognitive disorders that could be clinically treated with a combination of emotional, behavioral and cognitive components.
Behavioral therapies generally involve three different cognition aspects including:
- Automatic thoughts,
- Distortions in thinking
- Underlying beliefs.
A licensed medical professional helps individuals define clear and measurable goals by teaching people how to change their thinking patterns.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is one of the most popular types of behavioral therapy. As a therapy, CBT has been extensively studied in the fields of psychology and psychiatry. This therapy provides various ways for individuals with substance use disorders to understand and ultimately recover from their addictions.
Frequently, CBT sessions aim to:
- Help a person set goals for their treatment
- Help an individual modify aberrant or unhealthy thought patterns
- Improve someone’s mood
- Help an individual create positive and long-term behavioral changes
Dialectical Behavioral Therapy
Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) involves helping an individual who struggles with an addiction to pursue a better life. An effective therapy option, DBT encourages individuals to accept themselves, as well as make the changes necessary to live a healthier, more meaningful life independent of their past actions.
Overall, DBT seeks to:
- Help provide the person with the desire to change their current behaviors or behaviors in the immediate past
- Help people enhance their own capabilities
- Help individuals develop newer and healthier behaviors
- Provide people with a highly structured learning environment
Habit Reversal Training
Habit reversal training exposes individuals with substance use disorders to their problematic behaviors. Historically, habit reversal training has been used to treat disorders like hair pulling.
Habit reversal training employs several stages, with the overall goal being to alleviate addictive behavior in the case of substance use disorders.
Habit reversal training aims to:
- Make an individual aware of their problematic and addictive behaviors
- Help someone identify specific stimuli or situations that trigger their addictive behavior
- Help a person develop a healthier habit to replace addictive habits with
- Provide an individual with a supportive environment in which to practice these techniques, as well as teach them how to apply techniques to real-life situations
Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy
A major premise of rational emotive behavioral therapy (REBT) is that specific events do not cause behaviors or emotions directly. Instead, an individual’s beliefs about specific events may cause the person to become highly reactive.
An effective therapy, REBT seeks to:
- Train individuals to manage their cognitive, emotional or behavioral biases or disturbances
- Help identify unhealthy thoughts, addictive behaviors and other factors that negatively impact someone’s life
- Help people identify beliefs about certain experiences that caused them distress
- Help someone transform negative and unproductive thoughts into positive and productive ones
Systematic desensitization is a therapy developed in South Africa in the 1950s. Systematic desensitization involves gradually and systematically exposing individuals to their addictions, vices or fears.
During systematic desensitization, a person develops a written rationale with a licensed medical professional which details different exposure levels ranging from easy to extremely difficult. In this way, a medical professional can identify a starting and endpoint for desensitization.
In the context of substance use disorders and addiction treatment, systematic desensitization ultimately aims to desensitize individuals to the substance they were dependent on.
Exposure therapy involves repeated exposures to stimuli that an individual identifies with from using substances, or from their underlying fears or other worrisome thoughts.
Similar to systematic desensitization, exposure therapy seeks to alleviate any distress a person feels as a result of experiencing a triggering event or experiencing stimuli. Exposure therapy encompasses various techniques, including exposures that are:
- Gradual or intense
- Long or short
- With and without coping strategies
- Experienced in virtual reality or real life