Overview:

Therapist:

To become a licensed therapist, someone must get a master's degree, where they receive specialized training in programs like social work, counseling, psychology, and marriage and family therapy. After this, they must become licensed as a therapist, which requires passing an exam as well as hands-on training hours. The number of hours required depends on the state. Many licensed therapists specialize in drug and alcohol addiction treatment and can conduct individual and or group therapy. These individuals are qualified to deliver therapy specifically to those recovering from substance abuse issues like drug abuse, alcoholism, as well as mental health issues. Therapists delve into the deep psychological issues that underly addiction and mental health issues to help their patients heal.

LCSW:

A Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) has a master's degree in social work. An LCSW works in the field of social work, with a focus on mental health. This type of counselor integrates social work into their therapy practice by looking at the social and economic factors that impact a patient, as well as the effect of a person's career and home life on their mental health. An LCSW might specialize in helping individuals with substance abuse issues or treating those struggling with drug and alcohol addiction.

Qualifications:

School: Virginia Commonwealth University
Years of Experience: 10 Years

Intake:

Programs for Men
LGBTQ Programs
Options for Adolescents

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:

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.

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.

Anxiety:

An anxiety disorder is the diagnosis for someone who experiences frequent or obsessive anxiety that doesn't go away. Signs of an anxiety disorder include excessive worrying; trouble concentrating; fear of making the wrong decision; and constantly feeling restless or inability to relax. Physical symptoms of an anxiety disorder include fatigue, poor sleep patterns, nervousness, nausea, sweating, and tense muscles. Anxiety disorders are one of the most common mental health issues that occur alongside substance abuse. Many addiction and substance abuse counselors are trained to help patients with a co-occurring anxiety 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.

Eating Disorders:

Eating disorders are often considered food addictions, in that food is used in an addictive way (similar to drug or alcohol addiction). Common types of eating disorders include anorexia, bulimia, binge eating, and dysfunctional eating patterns. Signs and symptoms can include dramatic weight loss; concern about eating in public; an intense fear of being "fat", even though underweight; having an excessive, rigid exercise regime; and rigid thinking. Multiple rehab facilities and substance abuse treatment programs offer treatment for eating disorders, and there are also individual counselors who specifically treat eating disorders (outside just rehab clinics). For some individuals, an eating disorder may occur alongside a drug or alcohol problem. In order to help someone get the care they need, it’s important to see a therapist who is trained in treating both eating disorders and addiction.

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.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder:

A person with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) has repetitive, unwanted thoughts (obsessions), along with irrational, excessive urges (compulsions). Signs of OCD include: the urge to organize and clean things, feeling anxious, thoughts about hurting yourself or others, and washing your hands until skin becomes raw. Someone with OCD who is also struggling with alcohol or drug addiction may have more severe symptoms or behaviors. A counselor or therapist who specializes in both mental health and substance abuse treatment can help someone overcome addiction and deal with their OCD.

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.

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.

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing:

The term EDMR refers to Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. EDMR is a type of therapy originally developed to process trauma, and it can help someone to quickly and dramatically reduce the stress associated with a traumatic event. During an EDMR session, a patient is prompted by a therapist to undergo rapid back-and-forth eye movements (i.e. watching someone's finger go back and forth quickly in front of your face). This eye movement is similar to the REM sleep cycle, and helps reprocess memory in the brain (REM sleep is the last stage of the sleep cycle in which dreams often occur). EDMR is commonly used to treat Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in adults, and has been proven to be very effective. It can also be used to help children and adolescents dealing with traumatic events (like school shootings or child abuse). The goal of EDMR is to help the brain reprocess a memory, as a way to heal these painful or traumatic memories. Following an EDMR session, a patient might feel calmer, more relaxed and more stable.
Last Updated: 12/17/2018