Overview:

Counselor:

To become a licensed counselor, someone must complete a master's degree in counseling and then complete hands-on work as a counselor (under supervision). The number of required hours of hands-on training varies by state. Many counselors specialize in addiction treatment for drug and alcohol abuse, and the majority receive training in psychotherapy techniques. In terms of substance abuse issues, where therapists deal specifically with healing the root causes of a person's addiction (childhood, trauma background, etc.), counselors deal with the current day-to-day needs of the person. This involves what's called case management, which can include things like housing (which halfway house are you eligible for, or where are you going to live after you get out of a treatment center?); child care (how can you you get your child back if custody is jeopardized by addiction issues?); employment services (informing you about job placement programs), etc. Many times, counselors can also help with interventions, whereas most therapists do not.

LPC:

In order to become a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) in social work, a person must have a master's degree in counseling. Depending on the state, an LPC may also be called a Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC). An LPC specializing in social work will look not just at a person's drug or alcohol addiction issues, but their economic and social status, their home environment, and other factors when determining a treatment plan for that patient. They are sensitive to issues like whether a person struggling with addiction has a safe home environment in which to recover (or whether they may need to go to a halfway house); whether a person has a job that will help support them in recovery or whether they need to change jobs, etc. Counselors help with the practicalities of everyday life and what will help support sobriety.

Qualifications:

School: The University of Mobile
Years of Experience: 15+ Years
Year Graduated: 2003

Intake:

LGBTQ Programs
Adult Programs
Options for Adolescents
Elderly Programs
HIV/AIDS Programs
Executive Setting

Financials:

Session Fee: $130.00 - $150.00
Private Insurance
Self-pay Options

Modality:

Family Counseling:

Family Counseling can be for both the addict and his/her family, or may be solely for family members (without the addict present). Many support groups for family members of addicts see addiction as a family illness, not just the problem of one member of the family (the addict). Numerous research studies also demonstrate that recovery is far more successful and sustainable when loved ones -- especially family members -- participate in rehab and/or substance abuse treatment. Family support groups are also helpful since family members relating with an addict often need support themselves; it's a very stressful thing to deal with. Family support groups allow all members of the family to receive the benefits of treatment, and can include training on how to communicate effectively, establish healthy boundaries, and get support around the stress and trauma of addiction.

Individual Counseling:

In individual Counseling, a client meets one-on-one with a trained therapist or counselor. This kind of psychotherapy and focused attention is a crucial part of treating substance abuse and helping individuals overcome alcohol and drug addiction. Therapy can be instrumental in uncovering the root causes of addiction, such as challenges and struggles a patient has faced in their family, social, and work/school lives. Once these root causes (which often involve past trauma) are identified and worked through, substance abuse is much easier to overcome and sobriety to be reached. Different therapists use different therapeutic modalities, such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, which has been shown to be effective in stopping addiction while also providing tools for maintaining sobriety.

Couples Counseling:

Couples Counseling, or couples-focused treatment programs, involve both partners in a relationship. Substance abuse (alcohol or drug addiction) has major effects on both partners within a relationship, and the purpose of couples treatment is to address both sides. For example, if a husband is an alcoholic, his wife is impacted by his addiction and his behaviors. He, in turn, is impacted by her reaction and response to them. Many couples dealing with addiction also struggle with codependency, which can enable or even make the addictive behavior worse. In couples therapy, patterns like codependency are explained and explored, with the goal of both partners learning how to communicate and connect in healthy ways, and establish healthy boundaries with one another. In addition to addiction, rehabilitation and recovery also affects and changes a relationship. Couples-focused treatment allows partners to explore the triggers of addiction, as well as learning how to build a healthy support system while maintaining sobriety.

Treatment Approach:

Religious Approach:

Religion-based rehab refers to a recovery program that uses a specific religion or religious practice as the basis for treatment. These addiction treatment programs view faith as an important part of recovery and sobriety. Religion-based treatment programs can involve many religions, such as Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, etc. In these programs, counselors and peers use the teachings of a religion to offer support and guidance. Connecting with one's faith can help someone in a religion-based program build a strong foundation for recovery. Faith-based recovery programs can also provide inspiration, comfort, and support in a meaningful way. Some addiction treatment programs, like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), are not based on the teachings of a specific religion, but do emphasize a spiritual practice and the importance of connecting with a higher power.

Treatment:

Mental Health and Substance Abuse:

A combined mental health and substance abuse treatment center is designed to treat individuals with both mental health and substance abuse issues. Therapists and staff at these kinds of centers help patients who struggle with both a drug and alcohol addiction, along with a mental health problem like clinical depression, anxiety disorders, Bipolar Disorder, and more. They're trained to help patients identify the root causes of their addiction and mental health issues, and to help manage both. Many addiction counselors specialize in treating individuals with mental health problems, and are well-equipped to deliver high-quality treatment to those struggling from addiction alongside a mental health issue.

Alcohol Abuse:

There are many warning signs for alcoholism. For someone who is abusing alcohol, excessive drinking affects their work, school and home life. Other symptoms of alcohol abuse include: memory loss or blacking out, engaging in risky behavior (like driving a car), and hurting yourself or someone else while drunk. Alcohol abuse can progress to alcoholism. An alcoholic can’t control when or how much they drink. For an alcoholic, the goal of treatment is abstinence. Treatment and recovery from alcoholism usually involves therapy or counseling, as well as 12 step programs and AA meetings.

Dual Diagnosis:

Dual diagnosis refers to the diagnosis given to a person or patient who struggles with addiction and has also been diagnosed with a mental or emotional illness. To treat someone with a dual diagnosis, rehab centers and other mental health facilities aim to provide comprehensive treatment for both the substance abuse and mental illness. At these facilities, counselors and therapists work with dual-diagnosis patients to help them manage their mental health problems and overcome addiction at the same time. Common co-occurring substance abuse and mental illnesses can include drug addiction or alcoholism alongside clinical depression, anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, Bipolar Disorder, and more. In some cases, a mental health illness can lead to an addiction issue, or vice versa: an addiction issue can create a mental health issue. It's important to treat both at the same time whenever possible.

Video Games:

Video game addiction is being addicted to playing video games, so much that it interferes with daily life. Video game addiction is what's known as an "impulse control disorder," meaning the person can't stop themselves from playing (it's compulsive). Many times, video game addiction is a way of numbing out from life, or avoiding stressors like disconnection, loneliness, and difficult relationships. For those with video game addiction, playing video games has a negative impact on their work performance, schoolwork, personal relationships, and physical and mental health. Video game addiction can also be associated with anxiety, depression, ADHD, bipolar disorder, and other mental illnesses. While video game addiction is not yet recognized as a diagnosable disorder, recent studies suggest that up to 15% of gamers might exhibit signs of addiction. Treatment for video game addiction includes looking at the underlying issues behind it (i.e. why the person feels a need to numb out or use video games to disconnect), holding a compassionate response to the origin of the behavior, and moving past it.

Internet Addiction:

Internet addiction involves the obsessive use of the internet or a smartphone. Types of internet addiction include: an addiction to online pornography, online shopping, online gambling, and online game playing. Someone with an internet addiction can’t control how often they use the internet. They might feel depressed, anxious, isolated, and guilty about spending so much time online. Individuals with internet addiction could also be misusing or abusing drugs and alcohol. A therapist or counselor who specializes in addiction, including internet addiction, can help someone overcome this mental health issue.

Co-Dependency:

Co-Dependency refers to a relationship in which one person sacrifices their own wants and needs to "fix" or support the other partner. In a codependent relationship, love and intimacy are often experienced as one partner in distress, while the other partner "rescues" or enables them. Codependency can lead to substance abuse and addiction, and codependents may be less likely to seek help for their issues, as they tend to be the "helpers" in relationships. The term love addiction is used to describe a compulsive or constant pursuit of romantic love as a way to feel secure and worthy.

ADHD:

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is generally characterized by the inability to focus; not being able to get or stay organized; being impulsive; and being hyperactive (not being able to sit still). While it's normal to have trouble focusing and paying attention at times, for someone with ADHD, these behaviors are more extreme, occur more frequently, and make it hard to succeed or even function at work and/or at school. In order to be diagnosed with ADHD, a person must be seen by a healthcare professional such as a pediatrician, psychiatrist, or psychologist. Both children and adults can be diagnosed with ADHD. It is common for someone struggling with addiction or substance abuse issues to also struggle with ADHD, especially since many people seek out drugs or alcohol to help manage the symptoms of ADHD.

Anger:

Aggression, anger or violent behavior should not be ignored. Extreme feelings of anger can lead to distress, dysfunction and the inability to cope with one's emotions in a healthy way. A person with anger issues might have a sudden or uncontrollable outburst. Individuals with anger problems might also hold grudges, have trouble taking criticism, or feel like they have to “win” every argument. For someone struggling with addiction, anger issues could cause or worsen their substance abuse problem. Also, a person who is abusing drugs or alcohol could experience more intense feelings of anger.

Bipolar:

Bipolar Disorder is a mental illness that generates unusual and extreme changes in a person's mood, energy levels and the ability to accomplish daily tasks and think clearly. A person with Bipolar Disorder can experience frequent highs (often referred to as mania or manic episodes) and lows (often referred to as depression or depressive episodes). Someone with Bipolar Disorder might "self-medicate" by using drugs and alcohol to deal with their mental or emotional issues. Substance abuse is more common with Bipolar Disorder than with any other mental health diagnosis. Suicide is a serious risk concern for an individual with Bipolar Disorder.

Depression:

Depression is a serious mood disorder. Signs and symptoms of depression include: fatigue, trouble sleeping, changes in appetite, lack of interest in activities a person used to enjoy, irritability, and suicidal thoughts. A depressed person might feel sad, anxious, or hopeless. Typically, symptoms must persist for at least two weeks before someone is diagnosed with clinical depression. Depression can affect people of all ages, ethnicities and socioeconomic backgrounds. An estimated 30% of people with substance abuse problems suffer from depression.

Grief:

Following the death of a loved one, it is normal to feel sad or experience grief. Typically, someone who is grieving will go through five stages: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. While grief is a natural response to loss, using alcohol or drugs to deal with one’s feelings is not a healthy way to cope. Using drugs and alcohol to manage or soothe feelings of grief could lead to substance abuse or addiction. Unresolved grief — and the depression that follows — could leave someone more vulnerable to developing a substance abuse problem.

PTSD and Trauma:

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a mental health disorder that someone can develop after experiencing a traumatic incident, such as a shooting, a natural disaster, a car accident, or sexual assault (i.e. rape or child sexual abuse). Symptoms of PTSD include reliving the event in one's mind; nightmares; avoiding situations that might trigger memories of the event; negative beliefs and feelings; and feeling jittery, angry or irritable. The main types of treatment for PTSD are psychotherapy and medication. Someone suffering from PTSD may experience depression, anxiety and substance abuse problems.

Gambling Addiction:

Gambling addiction, also known as "compulsive gambling" or "problem gambling," is when a person cannot resist the urge to gamble. It's what's known as an "impulse control disorder," meaning the addict can't stop him- or herself from gambling (it's compulsive). Compulsive gambling often has very negative consequences for both the gambling addict and their loved ones, both emotional and financial. For example, compulsive gambling addicts can get into extreme financial trouble (i.e. bankruptcy or owing people or institutions like casinos thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars), which impacts both that individual as well as those depending on them for financial support (family). Gambling addiction is often accompanied by behavioral or mood disorders, such as anxiety disorder, depression, ADHD or Bipolar Disorder. Individuals with a gambling problem may also struggle with substance abuse, alcoholism, or drug addiction.

Techniques:

Assertive Community Treatment:

Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) is a type of treatment that helps people with a serious mental illness and/or substance abuse. ACT brings pyschiatric treatment and services directly to patients at home. Instead of hospitalization or an outpatient treatment program, a team of staff members, like social workers, psychiatrists, and counselors, comes directly to a patient's house for treatment. A patient in an ACT program receives the 24-hour care and services of a pychiatric unit, but in the comfort of their own home. ACT is mainly used for those with severe and persistent mental illnesses, like schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. Some patients with these serious mental health issues also struggle with alcoholism or drug addiction. ACT can be short-term (several weeks) or long-term (months or years). One of the goals of ACT is to help patients live independently and lessen the burden on families to provide care.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy:

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a common therapy technique. This type of therapy focuses on the relationship between a person's thoughts, feelings and behaviors. For example, if you know that when you have the thought, "I'm worthless," you want to drink or do drugs, you can then make a new choice in the future when you have that thought (like calling a friend or going for a walk instead). Awareness is critical in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, the ultimate goal of which is to help patients develop healthy responses to their thoughts and feelings. CBT has been proven very helpful for people struggling with alcohol and drug addiction, as well other mental health issues, like eating disorders. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy helps a person become more self-aware and build up their ability to cope with problems in healthier ways. Many therapists, counselors, psychologists, and social workers use Cognitive Behavioral Therapy techniques when working with their patients.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy:

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is type of therapy that helps someone understand the relationship between their thoughts, feelings and actions. Once a person understands this relationship, they can work on changing their behaviors and dealing with their problems in healthier ways. Dialectical Behavior Therapy has been proven clinically effective for people struggling with out-of-control emotions and some mental illnesses, like Borderline Personality Disorder. This type of therapy can also be helpful for individuals dealing with self-harm, such as self-mutilation (cutting) or having suicidal thoughts or urges. Dialectical Behavior Therapy often builds on the techniques and tools a patient learned in Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT), one of the most common types of therapy.

Experiential Therapy:

Experiential therapy is different from traditional 'talk' therapy. In experiential therapy, a person works through issues by participating in real-life, hands-on experiences. For example, someone struggling with alcoholism or drug addiction might participate in outdoor activities, which is sometimes called wilderness therapy. Experiential therapy can also include creative activities (like music or making art), or having patients role-play a situation or problem by "acting it out" and using props. Many rehab facilities and mental health treatment centers offer some type of experiential therapy, such as: wilderness therapy, equine therapy (working with horses), creative arts therapy, and adventure therapy. Experiential therapy can help someone process trauma, heal from painful memories and experiences, and build new coping and social skills. This type of therapy can also boost a person's self-esteem and prepare them for success in their home life, relationships, social life and careers following treatment.

Creative Arts Therapy:

We tend to think of therapy as 'talk' therapy, but this is not the only type of therapy. Creative arts therapy can help someone dealing with substance abuse or mental health issues in a different way. Creative arts therapy includes music, poetry/writing, painting, sculpting, dance, theater, sandplay, and other creative activities. This type of therapy helps someone express emotions, thoughts and experiences that might be hard to talk about. Creative arts therapy can be beneficial for children, teenagers and adults struggling with mental health problems, alcoholism and drug addiction. This form of therapy is not meant to replace 'talk' therapy or other types of treatment. However, creative arts therapy provides an important outlet for patients while in recovery.
Last Updated: 05/30/2018