Psychotherapy is one of the most effective and well-known tools to treat a variety of mental health concerns, such as anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and depression. It is a staple of almost every addiction treatment program: addressing the root causes of the addiction vastly reduces the probability of relapse.
Like many things in life, the success of psychotherapy depends on many factors. While almost everyone can benefit from it – especially with the wide range of therapeutic methods available – some people find that it just isn’t the treatment method for them. Sometimes this is due to genuine incompatibility, and sometimes there are some things that the person can do to get more out of the sessions.
In this article, we will address some steps you can take to ensure that you have a positive, productive experience with psychotherapy.
How Does Psychotherapy Work?
Psychotherapy is a form of talk therapy in which the client describes events in their life, how they feel, or how they are thinking, talking, and behaving. The goal is to help the client deal with the stresses of life, past traumas, relationship difficulties, or a wide range of mental illnesses, including depression and anxiety.
Sessions take place in a confidential setting, and it can be done individually or in a group. Most addiction treatment programs incorporate some individual therapy, as well as group therapy in which participants share and learn from each other’s experiences. Family therapy may also be included: this is helpful in cases where the addiction has either led to or resulted from a breakdown in relationships.
Addiction treatment works best when it is customised for each individual, and this includes psychotherapy. There are several methods of psychotherapy available, and the one that will work best for you depends on your unique needs and circumstances.
Psychotherapy methods are broadly divided into the following categories:
- Psychoanalysis: through interactions with the therapist, the client discovers subconscious meanings and motivations behind their thoughts, actions, and experiences, with a view to changing problematic behaviours and feelings.
- Behaviour and cognitive therapy: the therapist helps the client replace negative behaviours with positive ones. Examples include exposure and desensitisation for people suffering from phobias, and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), which addresses thoughts and behaviours.
- Humanistic therapy: the goal is to help clients maximise their potential by making constructive choices. For instance, Gestalt therapy focuses on the present rather than the past and encourages clients to accept responsibility for themselves, while existential therapy is based on free will and the search for meaning.
- Holistic therapy: instead of committing to one particular therapeutic method, the therapist combines elements from different approaches based on the needs of the client.
Making Psychotherapy Work For You
If you are new to psychotherapy, there are some things you can do to ensure that you have the best possible experience with it. If you are already in therapy and questioning whether it is working, you may be able to use some of these tips to unlock the potential benefits of psychotherapy.
Find The Right Therapist
The relationship between therapist and client is a close one: you will be telling this person details about your life that you may not have shared with anyone else. That requires a strong connection and a high level of trust. For this reason, you shouldn’t just go to the first psychotherapist you find on Google. Take the time to look for a therapist who is likely to be a good fit.
This may be accomplished during a single conversation, in which you ask the therapist questions about what experience they have treating your issues, and how they conduct their sessions. The therapist will also ask you questions about yourself.
During this back-and-forth conversation, you should get a sense of whether this is a psychotherapist you will be able to form a positive relationship with. Lack of a connection is not a poor reflection on either you or the therapist, it is simply a reflection of the fact that people are different, and sometimes two people just don’t have the right “chemistry” to be able to work together.
Take Care Of Logistics
Your psychotherapy sessions should be focused on the problems and issues you are seeking help for. You will not gain as much as you can out of them if you are worried about the administrative details, like payment and scheduling. Your therapist will talk to you about session frequency and length, cost and payment methods, but make sure all of your questions are answered before you begin the therapy process. For example, you may need to know about the cost of parking, the cancellation policy, or insurance coverage.
Be Open And Honest
This is easier said than done. It is not easy to open up to a relative stranger about the deepest, most personal details of your life. It is important for you to remember that you drive the pace of your discussions. Some people are able to start talking about difficult things early on in the therapeutic relationship; others may take a few sessions. You will never be forced to talk about something you are not comfortable discussing, but in order for therapy to succeed, you need to be willing to participate. Once you start talking about something, your therapist will help guide the conversation, so you feel safe and less overwhelmed.
Talk About The Therapeutic Relationship
Many people experience a mix of doubts and anxieties when it comes to participating in psychotherapy sessions. It is good to periodically examine any relationship to try and make it more productive, and your relationship with your therapist is no exception. At any point, you can talk to your therapist about how therapy is going, any anxieties you have, and how things can be improved.
Do The Work Between Sessions
Sometimes this literally means doing “homework” given to you by your therapist. This could be anything from writing in a journal to meditating in the woods. These tasks are given to you with a purpose in mind. If you are not clear about the purpose and how the homework will benefit you, ask your therapist to help you understand.
In a more general sense, though, the point of participating in psychotherapy is to learn better ways of coping, or more constructive ways of thinking or behaving. As you learn how to do this, start applying it to the people and situations around you.
Don’t Be Afraid Of Setting And Maintaining Boundaries
Therapy is a deeply personal process that impacts everyone in different ways. Some people decide by themselves to seek the services of a psychotherapist; others are encouraged by loved ones to do so. In some cases, the participant does not have a choice – examples would be when a parent takes a minor child to a therapist, or when therapy is ordered by a court.
Regardless of how you began therapy, you are under no obligation to tell anyone what happens in the sessions. Your therapy is for you alone, and how much of it you talk about is up to you.
Maintaining these boundaries can be difficult, especially in the case of minor teens, but learning how to do this can be an important part of your growth. If you struggle with boundaries, talk to your therapist.
Psychotherapy As An Addiction Treatment Method
At Addiction Rehab Toronto, we provide a full range of treatment options for people with addictions. Our programs are fully customised for each individual, and include a variety of psychotherapy approaches. After meeting you and getting to learn about your unique circumstances, we will create a therapy plan that best meets your needs. We will provide you with a safe, confidential environment in which to explore the causes that lie beneath your addiction, with a view to helping you develop the tools and skills to lead a happier life, free from substance abuse.