CALL 858-888-0101

Types of Therapy Used in Treatment

Do all drug rehab facilities use the same therapeutic approach? The answer is both yes and no. Every mental health professional and Alcohol and Other Drug Counselor has their own niche, allowing them to address sensitive issues with a different therapeutic approach depending on the issue and the individual. Overall, not all therapy involves a long couch to lay on and spill your emotions. In fact, treatment clients may be experiencing therapy even when they aren’t aware they are. It is important to understand that the therapies you or a loved one receive in a substance abuse facility will differ depending on the therapeutic approach of the individual counselor, your drug of choice, whether you have other co-occurring mental health disorders, and any other related challenges that could affect your state of mind and ability to process things clearly.

Although the type of treatment depends on the client and the counselor, there are popular methods that have been proven over the years to work for clients with addiction issues. These are known as “evidence-based” therapeutic methods that have shown, time and time again through credible and realistic research, to help people achieve sobriety. These types of therapies include Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), The Matrix Model, Contingency Management (CM), Motivational Interviewing, and Family Therapy.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

therapy session to treat addictionCognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) teaches coping skills that individuals struggling with addiction can apply to their lives to avoid a relapse. Techniques emphasized in CBT include weighing the positive and negative consequences of behavior and analyzing the effects of behavior before engaging. In the recovery world, this idea is often referred to as “playing the tape through.” This is an important skill to strengthen, as many addicts have never considered the consequences of their actions before.

CBT brings to the surface the behavioral aspects of drug abuse and sobriety, identifying cravings and situations that may trigger relapse and helping to create strategies to deal with cravings. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is traditionally used to treat alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, and methamphetamine addictions, and is used in the outside world to treat depression, anxiety, and other mental health disorders. At Boardwalk Recovery, we use CBT to create an open space for clients to address dysfunctional aspects of their lives. These can go beyond drug use to include the patterns and rituals that have become a part of who they are and what they do. Usually, this therapeutic approach is used to help clients consider their behaviors. A mental health professional will guide clients through the emotions that arise during sessions, helping them understand why certain emotions occur, and how to adopt new health behavioral habits.

The Matrix Model

Certain drug addictions may need more specific care. The Matrix Model is typically specific to clients struggling with an addiction to stimulants such as cocaine or methamphetamine. The Matrix Model combines the elements of many different essential treatments for those in recovery. Aspects of The Matrix Model include:

  • 12-step meetings (such as A.A. or N.A.)
  • family therapy
  • relapse prevention
  • drug testing
  • drug education

All of these approaches are provided by the staff at Boardwalk Recovery Center. This includes drug testing and psychoeducational therapy. What works well in this model is the combination of internal and external accountability and motivation to stay on track and stay sober. In this model, the health professional functions as a facilitator at times, a coach at others, and a teacher who strives to create a positive, encouraging relationship with the patient to learn and grow like they never have before.

Contingency Management (CM)

woman in therapy to treat addictionThere is also Contingency Management (CM). CM is a type of program that offers rewards or incentives for positive behaviors. This provides external motivation and accountability in a client’s recovery, but can also work extremely well for those who need the guidance and facilitation to be held accountable. CM could, for example, take the form of submitting a negative urine screen. Clients who have a clean urine sample may receive vouchers, privileges, and commendations for their efforts. At Boardwalk Recovery Center, when a client completes their assigned tasks and continues to have negative urine screens, they move into a different phase of their recovery and receive further privileges. Contingency management programs are often used to treat addicts who abuse alcohol, stimulants, opioids, and marijuana.

Motivational Interviewing

Motivational Interviewing is an approach that helps clarify and work through resistance to entering substance abuse treatment. The therapist helps you find motivation for change and develop a plan. Sometimes clients are not even fully aware of what is coming out of their mouths and the meaning and power behind their words. Motivational Interviewing is a therapeutic approach where clients are repeated back the words and messages they expressed out loud in a subtle manner. Usually, this includes phrases like “I am hearing you say this” or “Correct me if I am wrong but you feel this way because of this event you discussed.” Repeating back values or key takeaways allows the client to understand where their motivations come from, as well as help them to acknowledge who they are and why they think and act the way that they do. Motivational interviewing is often used to help people struggling with alcohol and marijuana addiction, as well as individuals with low self-awareness and self-esteem about how they feel, who they are, and the role that their addiction played in their behaviors.

Family Therapy

couple in therapy for addictionAnother form of therapy that is common in addiction treatment is family therapy. At Boardwalk Recovery Center, we provide therapists with a focus in family therapy who are able to deliver quality unbiased care to clients and the family members alike. Sessions in family therapy typically involve both the person in recovery and a significant other or loved one, such as a spouse or a parent. Family therapy allows the individual in recovery to establish healthy boundaries with their family or communicate the level of support that they need while they are in treatment or in lifelong recovery. Family therapy frequently focuses on substance abuse and the cascading effects it has had on the family dynamic. In addition, other problems usually come to the surface that may be a problem in the home, such as child abuse, unemployment, relationship conflicts, and mental illness. Like all therapeutic approaches, family therapy may build on another form of therapy. For example, family therapy may be aligned with contingency management, as clients set goals and receive rewards from loved ones when they achieve those goals and are honest in their recovery.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment

For some addicts, substance abuse challenges are not the only issues that need to be treated in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Co-occurring disorders, also known as comorbid disorders, are conditions that an individual struggles with in addition to a drug or alcohol addiction. When a client has both a substance use disorder and a mental health disorder, it is commonly called a dual diagnosis. At Boardwalk Recovery Center, our on-staff psychiatrist and psychologists provide specialized care for each client, including thorough and effective diagnosis and analysis. Dual diagnosis is quite common in addicts. In fact, 8.2 million individuals ages 18 and up, or 3.4% of the population, struggled with a substance abuse disorder alongside other mental health disorders, according to 2016 research. At Boardwalk Recovery Center, we understand that if mental health issues are not simultaneously addressed while addiction is being treated, it can complicate the reliability of the individual’s recovery and increase their risk of relapse.

Every addict is different, so every client at Boardwalk Recovery Center receives specialized treatment and therapy specific to their needs, background, and diagnosis. There is a lot more that goes into staying sober than just staying abstinent. Give us a call today if you would like to learn more about the different types of therapies used to treat addiction and their role in achieving long term recovery.

Recent Posts


Life can be good again and we’d like to show you how.
close slider
addicts being supported in outpatient rehabman arriving at drug rehab