Living with alcohol or drug addiction can be incredibly difficult, and individual therapy provides a safe place for people to work through their emotions and learn valuable coping skills. 

When used along with other methods of evidence-based addiction treatments, individual therapy can be even more effective in helping people toward long-term recovery. 

Read on to learn more about the many benefits of individual therapy when treating substance use disorders, and the different types of individual therapy we offer at Hope’s Destiny. 

About Individual Therapy for Addiction

Individual therapy in its many forms is helpful when treating a variety of mental health and behavioral health disorders, including substance use disorders. 

It is often used as a part of dual diagnosis treatment as well, in which people are treated for both their addiction and another mental health disorder at the same time. 

Through individual therapy, people can work through their current problems, past traumas, triggers, and other issues, while learning how to replace substance use with more healthy coping mechanisms. 

Coping strategies that are often taught in individual therapy for addiction involve mindfulness, being present, self-awareness, and emotion regulation. 

Furthermore, studies have shown that the most effective form of addiction treatment is a combination of medication assistance and individual therapy. That’s why many addiction programs also incorporate detox or medication-assisted treatment along with counseling. 

Key Facts on Individual Addiction Therapy

  • Number of American adults who has received some form of mental health treatment in the last 12 months: one in five
  • Types of individual addiction therapy: psychotherapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavior therapy, acceptance and commitment therapy, motivational interviewing, contingency management, trauma therapy
  • Types of disorders that commonly co-occur with addiction: depressive disorders, anxiety disorders, mood disorders, personality disorders, eating disorders, attention disorders
  • Benefits of individual addiction therapy: work through individual problems, talk about issues privately and confidentially, learn valuable relapse prevention skills and other coping skills, receive dual diagnosis treatment for co-occurring disorders, replace negative thoughts and behaviors with positive thoughts and behaviors, comfortable therapy environment, one-on-one attention from trained mental health provider
  • Complications of untreated addiction: worsened mental health conditions, physical health conditions, increased risk of overdose and death, strained relationships, problems at work or school, legal problems or incarceration, unemployment or homelessness, financial problems 
  • How to pay for individual addiction therapy: private insurance, state-funded insurance, cash or self-pay, scholarships or donations, financial assistance

How Does Individual Therapy Work in Addiction Treatment?

Individual therapy is a major component of most inpatient and outpatient addiction treatment programs, and is often combined with other treatment options and types of therapy. 

In this sense, patients will have both regularly scheduled individual sessions, usually with the same therapist, as well as group therapy sessions, where they can give and receive peer support. 

If other types of therapy are offered they may be incorporated as well, such as family therapy or relationship therapy. 

Individual therapy allows people to focus on their own unique situation and mental health issues, especially if they have co-occurring disorders or past trauma they need to work through. 

In order to begin individual therapy, many inpatient and outpatient programs will want people to go through medical detox so they are sober and free from cravings and other withdrawal symptoms during sessions. 

What Issues Are Addressed in Individual Therapy Sessions?

The specific issues that you address in therapy may depend on the type of therapy you are engaged in, but will always be unique to you. 

When participating in addiction therapy, your sessions will most likely focus on issues that are relevant to your substance use disorder and the recovery process. 

Issues that are addressed in individual therapy sessions include:

  • Triggers for substance use
  • Current points of stress in your life
  • Issues from your past that are unresolved 
  • Feelings of loss, grief, or bereavement
  • Relationship issues or concerns
  • Trauma from past abuse 

Types of Individual Therapy for Addiction

There are numerous types of individual therapy available when treating addiction. 

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) is a type of therapy that focuses on psychological flexibility and adaptability, and asks participants to commit to making any necessary changes in their lives. 

Ways that ACT does this is by teaching skills like mindfulness and cognitive diffusion, which help people to identify and separate from their negative or unhelpful thought patterns. 

The idea behind ACT is never to suppress one’s feelings, but by teaching skills like being present and committed to action, that people can eventually change their attitudes and behavior. 

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of therapy that is short-term, highly structured, and goal-oriented, focusing on the relationship between emotions, thoughts, and behaviors. 

Through CBT, people with addiction can explore their thought patterns and learn their triggers, as well as restructure their negative thought patterns into more positive ones. 

This type of therapy can also be helpful in treating a variety of co-occurring mental disorders, like depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder. 

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)

Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) builds on both psychotherapy and CBT, with a special focus on learning to manage uncomfortable or intense emotions.

In addition to teaching mindfulness and emotion regulation, DBT can address addiction by reducing impulsive behaviors related to substance abuse. 

This can also be an effective treatment for other types of mental health disorders, such as borderline personality disorder, that often co-occur with substance abuse disorders. 

Talk Therapy

Talk therapy, or psychotherapy, is a form of one-on-one therapy that exists much like a conversation between therapist and patient. 

This type of therapy can be especially beneficial for helping people to get to the root of their addiction or substance use disorder. 

Sometimes this kind of therapy is enough for someone who is living with substance abuse, but it is often combined with other types of more specialized and goal-oriented treatments. 

Trauma Processing Therapy

Trauma processing therapy can be helpful for people with addiction as it can help them get to the root of what is causing their addiction by addressing trauma from their past. 

For this reason, this type of therapy can be used often for people who have co-occurring substance abuse issues with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Studies have shown that experiencing trauma can alter a person’s brain chemistry, leading to impulsive behaviors like drug or alcohol use and self-harm. This is why trauma-informed care is generally recommended when treating addiction of any kind. 

Motivational Interviewing

Motivational interviewing is a type of goal-oriented therapy that is often used when treating addiction. It was first developed to help people overcome feelings of ambivalence. 

The focus with this therapy is on increasing a person’s motivation to change so they can work on the negative behaviors in their life, such as substance abuse. 

This type of therapy can also improve overall treatment adherence, which can make other therapies and treatments within a person’s treatment plan more effective. 

Contingency Management

In contingency management therapy, the therapist uses a system of incentives and rewards in order to promote positive changes in the patient’s behavior. 

When using this type of therapy with addiction, the patient may be rewarded by the therapist upon reaching certain goals or milestones, such as a certain period of sobriety. 

Other behaviors that may be rewarded in contingency management therapy for addiction include having a negative drug test, taking all medications as directed, and attending 12-step support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA). 

Holistic Therapy

Holistic therapies work to heal a person as a whole, by addressing their needs emotionally, physically, and spiritually. 

Holistic therapies can include yoga, meditation, massage therapy, music therapy, acupuncture, and art therapy. 

Individual Therapy vs Group Therapy

Individual therapy and group therapy both have several benefits and are often used together within the same treatment plan or offered within the same treatment center.

Therefore, it is important to not think of one as being better than the other, but that they can both be important components to a well-rounded treatment plan. 

Differences between individual therapy and group therapy include:

  • Individual therapy is one-on-one with a therapist while group therapy is typically in a small group of 5 to 10 people.
  • In individual therapy, experiences are shared with just the therapist, whereas group therapy allows people to share with peers as well.
  • Individual therapy can feel like a conversation, group therapy can feel like a classroom (depending on the type of therapy).
  • Individual therapy usually consists of psychotherapy, while group therapy often offers more specialized types of therapy.
  • Group therapy is offered on a more rigid schedule, while individual therapy can be scheduled around you.
  • Issues brought up in group therapy may not always be relevant to you, while individual therapy is strictly focused on you.

Benefits of Individual Therapy in Addiction Recovery Programs

While some people may prefer group therapy, individual therapy can bring people a lot of benefits while in addiction treatment. 

Oftentimes the best results are shown through a combination of individual therapy with other forms of specialized therapy. 

Benefits of individual therapy in addiction recovery programs include: 

  • Gain a better understanding of your individual triggers and how to identify them
  • Set recovery goals that are unique to you
  • Explore underlying issues that are affecting your mental health 
  • Can be better for people who are not comfortable speaking or participating in groups
  • Offers more privacy and confidentiality than group therapy 
  • Learn enhanced communication skills and improve interpersonal relationships 
  • Receive one-on-one attention from a mental health professional 

Are There Any Drawbacks to Individual Therapy?

Despite the many benefits of individual therapy, there are also several potential drawbacks to this kind of therapy. 

People who prefer group therapy usually have the option to use it, and it can be just as beneficial as individual therapy in many instances. 

Disadvantages of individual therapy can include:

  • Individual therapy is typically more expensive than group therapy.
  • Individual counseling offers no peer interaction or support. 
  • Only group therapy allows people to listen to the stories of others in addition to their own.
  • Some people are uncomfortable talking about themselves or being the sole focus of the therapy.
  • Patients who are feeling isolated and lonely may continue to do so without group interaction.

Cost of Individual Therapy

The cost of individual therapy can vary depending on a person’s location, the type of therapy, the length of their treatment, and whether the individual therapy is part of a larger program. 

Individual therapy is often covered, at least partially, by insurance, either private insurance or state-funded insurance like Medicaid or Medicare. 

People can often pay for individual therapy with cash as well, on a per-session basis, with some facilities providing financial assistance such as a sliding fee scale. 

At Hope’s Destiny, individual therapy is included as part of all of our outpatient programs, which are also offered as an intensive outpatient program (IOP) and partial hospitalization program (PHP).

We work with insurance providers to help you access the care you need without breaking the bank.

Find Custom Individual Addiction Therapy in Pennsylvania

If you or a loved one is in Pennsylvania and looking for top-quality individual therapy for drug and alcohol addiction, please reach out to us at Hope’s Destiny.

We offer individual therapy through our three levels of outpatient programs, as well as in aftercare if you have already completed a substance abuse treatment program. 

Contact us today to learn more about the different programs we offer for drug and alcohol abuse, and how we can help you reach a better state of mental health and overall well-being.