Group meetings are held with other recovering alcoholics and are moderated by a trained professional. (Note that this type of therapy is different from that listed in the mutual help group section in that mutual help groups are moderated by peers rather than trained therapists). Group therapy sessions offer the chance to share feelings, experiences, and goals with other people in recovery who are undergoing similar struggles and issues, and, as with individual counseling, to increase coping skills, decision-making skills, and create strategies for staying sober.
One approach commonly used to treat addiction is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). CBT is generally short term and results-oriented, and based upon the premise that in order to change behavior, one must first change one’s thoughts. Therapy focuses upon the thoughts and feelings that trigger unwanted behaviors, and works to correct destructive or inaccurate patterns of self-talk.
Research by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) has found that various approaches to psychological treatment have been equally effective for long-term recovery from alcoholism, that is, different approaches work for different people. There are varying types of individual or family counseling available. When interviewing a potential therapist, ask about the methods in which he or she is trained, and how those methods will be used to help your situation. The NIAAA states that “getting help in itself appears to be more important than the particular approach used, as long as it offers empathy, avoids heavy confrontation, strengthens motivation, and provides concrete ways to change drinking behavior.”
Individuals who respond well to a supportive group setting, but who would prefer a trained therapist rather than a peer as a group moderator.
Contact your primary care physician or insurance provider for a recommendation or referral for a therapist in your area.
Other resources for finding a therapist include:
National Association of Social Workers (NASW): 202-408-8600
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) – Center for Mental Health Services: (click on Mental Health Services Locator)
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