You’ve probably seen countless depictions of individual therapy in the movies: the stuffy office with wood-paneled walls, the patient lying on a chaise lounge being asked how things make them feel as the therapist scribbles on an oversized notepad. This provides an unrealistic — and often negative — view of a beneficial part of recovery that helps many people get their lives back on track.

At Sunlight Recovery, we take pride in using an individualized approach to meet the unique needs of our clients. Here, trained specialists offer various therapy techniques to address addiction and substance abuse in a flexible, holistic way.

What to Expect in Individual Therapy

If you’ve never been in therapy before, you may be unfamiliar with the process and structure of a session. So, what is individual therapy? Contrary to popular belief, there’s no single answer, because each client has a different background, life experiences and needs.

If you make the decision to seek individual counseling, you’ll be paired with a counselor. You’ll meet with them weekly and work together in sessions that last around an hour per appointment. This typically occurs for an extended period of time — usually at least 16 weeks.

This relationship is intended to build trust and make you feel comfortable and able to speak freely during sessions. To gain the greatest benefit from the sessions, you need to be able to talk openly about your experiences during therapy.

Just because Sunlight Recovery is a dedicated substance abuse rehab facility, it doesn’t mean everyone receives the same counseling. Our licensed therapists take individualized approaches with every client because no two cases are the same. Addiction can be linked with a variety of factors, and for therapy to be effective, we have to identify the experiences in your past that led you to abuse substances.

Structure of a One-on-One Therapy Session

When you start therapy, your counselor will spend time getting to know you and your unique circumstances. They’ll introduce themselves, explain their counseling style and make sure you feel completely comfortable. They’ll ask questions to better understand your relationship with controlled substances. The objective of this process is to understand the best way to align their approach with your treatment goals.

Once this initial phase has passed, your individual therapist will facilitate sessions where you do most of the talking. They’ll ask questions and guide conversations to provoke the exploration of your life’s experiences. The reason trust is so necessary in the therapeutic relationship is that talking about addiction is often difficult. Your therapy may cover intimate events, past trauma and sensitive subjects that might be painful to share. But sharing these personal details of your life can be a critical part of successful recovery.

Once you get into a routine, your therapist may introduce you to a variety of techniques, including, but not limited to:

  • Mindfulness exercises
  • Practicing positive thinking and self-esteem
  • Developing coping skills and strategies to handle triggers
  • Journaling for self-reflection
  • Practicing developing healthier relationships

Types of Individual Psychotherapy

At Sunlight Recovery, our counselors offer a range of individual psychotherapy methods. This is how we customize therapy to meet the needs of each client who seeks treatment with us. Here are some of the most common you may experience:

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive behavioral therapy is known as the gold standard in individual therapy. As its name suggests, this form of talk therapy focuses on exploring the behaviors at the heart of substance use and abuse.

Often, this involves unpacking events in your past and exploring the way your thoughts and feelings motivated actions that led you to use addictive substances. Successful CBT helps clients find different, more positive ways to approach similar situations. This empowers them to take healthier actions when they face challenges in their life.

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)

DBT is actually an offshoot of CBT that takes a modified approach to get the same results. Instead of trying to change thought patterns as in CBT, DBT goes about resolving negativity in a different manner. Clients are encouraged to acknowledge negative thoughts and use this to help empower more positive reactions. Like CBT, this can help develop healthier coping mechanisms and prevent relapse.

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy (EMDR)

EMDR is typically used when substance abuse is linked to traumatic experiences in a client’s past. It involves using repeated stimuli to rewire a person’s subconscious reaction to past events. This effectively changes the negative associations that make trauma and PTSD strongly linked with substance abuse and addiction.

According to the American Psychological Association (APA), EMDR can be part of a more effective path to recovery in certain cases.

Benefits of Individual Counseling

Compared to group therapy, individual sessions can provide a range of unique benefits:

One-on-One Therapy Is Focused on You

Group therapy tends to standardize things to fit the group, while individual therapy can customize the approach in a way that addresses the unique needs of one client. While group therapy can be helpful for many people, the one-size-fits-all approach means sessions aren’t always as productive as they could be. Because the conversation stays focused on you during individual sessions, it’s possible to more efficiently explore a broader range of topics in less time.

Individual Sessions Are Private and Confidential

While group therapy is done in a nonjudgmental way, it may be difficult for some participants to be as open as they are in one-on-one sessions. In contrast, individual therapy is completely private. Anything shared during a session is protected by health care privacy laws, as well as the bond between the client and therapist. This is also called the therapeutic alliance, and it makes it easier to build trust in individual therapy.

The result is the ability to be more open without fear of judgment. Group therapy is a very common — and highly effective — way to share experiences and strategies with other people who are facing similar circumstances. However, individual therapy is helpful in a different way. It allows you the space, comfort and privacy to explore your foundational experiences in a safe environment.

Individual Therapy at Sunlight Recovery

We understand how hopeless it can feel to struggle with substance abuse and addiction, but at Sunlight Recovery, you have options. We can provide a range of individual therapy services and resources that allow you to recover at a pace that’s right for you. With our help, you can start down the road to a healthier future. If you or a loved one is struggling with dependence on addiction substances, contact Sunlight Recovery today.