Like with traditional outpatient drug rehab, outpatient therapy for addiction and psychological counseling still plays a major role in treating drug and alcohol addiction in intensive outpatient facilities. In the past, the goal of individual counseling in addiction treatment was to identify conscious and unconscious motivations for using drugs or alcohol. Today, given the cost barriers involved, counseling focuses more on helping patients solve specific problems that are hindering their recovery. Individual sessions help ensure a patient’s continued participation in treatment by reviewing progress and acknowledging when goals have been reached; this also helps strengthen the bond between patient and therapist. It also helps alleviate the fear and anxiety patients may be experiencing during the transition from addiction to sobriety by identifying new and healthier ways to deal with stressful situations or addiction triggers. Therapists typically use individual sessions to address issues that would not benefit from exposure to the entire group or identify issues that the patient is holding back on, disclosure of which could benefit the group at large.
Outpatient Substance Abuse Therapy Includes Group Therapy
Group therapy is also still a mainstay of addiction treatment, although some patients cannot meaningfully participate in group sessions right away. Patients are evaluated for the appropriateness of group therapy before they are admitted and are typically instructed on appropriate group behavior and rules surrounding attendance, participation, honesty and confidentiality. An ideal group will have no more than twelve patients and will be run by two professionals. Because people addicted to drugs and alcohol tend to isolate themselves from others, group therapy helps change isolating behaviors and provides a safe environment in which to explore fear and anxiety related to sobriety. Experienced members often act as mentors to new participants, guiding them through the process and preparing them for challenges that are likely ahead.
Although the particular beliefs and treatment methods of the person leading group plays a major role in how the group will run, groups tend to focus on real-time issues such as cravings or triggers, relapses, emotional issues or interpersonal conflicts. Rarely do the groups delve into unconscious addiction motivators. If the drug addiction treatment program has enough patients with similar backgrounds, specialized groups dealing with sexual trauma or sexual orientation may be possible. The benefit of having two leaders reveals itself in the ability to role model and cover clinician absences without disrupting the group schedule.