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Psychotherapy therapy for addiction

The American Psychological Association led a “psychotherapy effectiveness review project” in 2012. The Association’s Council of Representatives adopted a ‘resolution on psychotherapy effectiveness’, which cites more than 50 peer-reviewed studies on psychotherapy and its effectiveness in treating health issues in a variety of different populations including children, minority groups and the elderly.

The findings from the American Psychological Association’s psychotherapy effectiveness review included the following:


  • Research demonstrates that psychotherapy is effective for a variety of mental and behavioral health issues across a spectrum of demographics. The average effects of psychotherapy are larger than the effects produced by many medical treatments
  • Large multi-site and meta-analytic studies have demonstrated that psychotherapy reduces disability, morbidity and mortality, improves work functioning and decreases psychiatric hospitalization
  • Psychotherapy teaches patients life skills that last beyond the course of treatment. The results of psychotherapy tend to last longer than psychopharmacological treatments and rarely produce harmful side effects
  • While medication is appropriate in some instances, research shows that a combination of medication and psychotherapy is often most effective in treating depression and anxiety. It should also be noted that the effects produced by psychotherapy, including those for different age groups and across a spectrum of mental and physical health disorders, are often comparable to or better than the effects produced by drug treatments for the same disorders without the potential for harmful side effects that drugs often carry.

The benefits of psychotherapy for substance abuse

According to the National Survey of Substance Abuse Treatment Services (N-SSATS), 45 percent of Americans who have received treatment for a substance addiction have also been diagnosed with a mental health disorder. Major life crises may be the main underlying reasoning behind why a person initially chooses to engage in harmful behavior such as abusing drugs or alcohol. However, on a day-to-day basis the reasoning behind self-destructive behavior such as abusing drugs or alcohol is usually attributed to habit and/or addiction.

Having the ability to freely speak one’s mind allows a person to be free of feelings and thoughts that may be harmful or restrictive. It’s fairly typical for people to be on autopilot, focusing only on getting through the day and doing only what has to be done in order to survive. Going through one’s day like this without checking in with one’s thoughts and emotions is essentially ignoring a huge part of a person’s existence.

Finding the right psychotherapist

In order to get the most out of psychotherapy, it’s not only important to educate oneself on the particular therapists facilitating the group sessions, but is equally important to clarify details that will be expected to be communicated or known by the patient. Points to consider when searching for the appropriate group psychotherapist, whether it is on an inpatient or outpatient basis, include:

  • How long has the psychotherapist been in business
  • What are the psychotherapist’s credentials
  • What is the psychotherapist’s therapeutic expertise

What the patient should know before diving into psychotherapy:

Similarly to knowing a little about one’s therapist before going into psychotherapy, a person should also be sure to know a few other key points to make sure they are making a decision that will be helpful and not detrimental. The individual should identify the following:

  • Main goals for psychotherapy (substance abuse, mental health issues, general wellness)
  • Who the psychotherapy is needed for (self, family, spouse)
  • How the psychotherapy will be paid for (insurance or out of pocket)
  • The intensity of psychotherapy needed (inpatient or outpatient)
  • Details of how psychotherapy helped the patient in the past (is there anything the patient would like to do or experience differently?)

Group therapy structure

One helpful form of psychotherapy is group therapy. Group therapy is goal oriented in that the group leaders utilize a structured format that encourages clients to talk about what prevents them from being exactly who they want to be, as well as doing exactly what they want to do in life. In regards to patterns of addiction, such an environment is necessary in order to find relief from experiencing desires and urges to engage in addictive behavior. There are several “group types” of therapy including:

  • Skills development
  • Cognitive behavioral
  • Interpersonal process
  • Support groups
  • Specialized group models
  • Psychoeducational groups

Through the use of these and other forms of psychotherapy, those dealing with substance abuse and/or mental health disorders can gain an effective recovery. If you or a loved one is suffering from an addiction to drugs or alcohol and would like to learn more about the benefits of psychotherapy, you can call the 24/7 Recovery Helpline at 855-441-4405 to find the help you need today.


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