The Role Counseling Plays in Your Recovery

The Role Counseling Plays in Your Recovery

Counseling plays an integral part in the addiction recovery process. Counseling, whether through inpatient or outpatient treatment, is typically done by a therapist or counselor that specializes in treating patients struggling with drug and alcohol abuse. These mental health professionals work with patients to diagnose and treat the addiction as well as any underlying mental illnesses that may be contributing to or causing the problem. Through therapy sessions designed to meet yours or your loved one’s unique treatment needs, the counselor is able to help you learn to recognize addiction triggers and use positive coping strategies to prevent relapse. The process begins with the proper diagnosis.

Addiction Diagnosis

The first steps in the treatment of addiction are detox and diagnosis. During medically-supervised detox, the body has a chance to rid itself of the toxins of the drug or drugs in a safe way. Rehab programs that begin with this crucial first step have a better success rate than those that do not. After detox comes diagnosis. During diagnosis, your therapist and other members of your rehab team will determine whether there are any underlying mental illnesses causing or contributing to your addiction. Treating both conditions simultaneously through Dual Diagnosis treatment significantly increases the likelihood of recovery. Your therapist plays a unique role as he or she guides you through the process of communicating about your personal history of addiction and family history of addiction. By talking opening and honestly with your counselor or therapist about your history of substance abuse, she can better diagnose and treat your issues going forward.

Rehab Counselor Training

According the Mayo Clinic, rehab counseling, also known as psychotherapy or talk therapy, can be done by a psychologist, psychiatrist or licensed alcohol and drug counselor. Most rehab counselors or therapists have a bachelor’s or master’s degree or higher with undergraduate training in counseling, psychology, social work or a related field. Rehab counselors do practicums in their field of study during their training that provide real-world experiences with the types of patients they will be treating. By the time your counselor or therapist receives her degree and the required state certifications, she has logged hundreds of hours in clinics and working with patients that have similar backgrounds, needs and desired outcomes.

Rehab Counseling at a Glance

There are several types of counseling involved in the rehab process and several proven methods of therapy used during counseling sessions. Individual counseling is usually the first step after diagnosis. As you become more accustomed to talking openly with your counselor or therapist, she can begin using the principles of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) or other therapy methods to begin helping you understand your addiction and how it developed. Many people who struggle with addiction also struggle with negative self-talk. CBT, or talk therapy, helps you begin to recognize these negative thought patterns and change them before they result in negative behaviors like drug abuse. This method is widely used in the treatment of many forms of mental illness and has seen great success throughout the history of addiction treatment. Once you or a loved one is making progress, your therapist or counselor will recommend that you join in group therapy sessions. Group therapy sessions help you begin to learn to communicate with others about your addiction in healthy ways. Group therapy also helps you see that you are not alone in your struggles and learn from others who are at different places on the road to recovery. Family therapy sessions are another important part of the rehab process and help you and your family members begin to heal from the pain caused by addiction. Through group counseling, your therapist can help your family members recognize the role they play in your addiction and change any enabling behaviors. Some treatment plans will also require medication. This is especially true if you or your loved one has a Dual Diagnosis. Psychiatrists are also medical doctors that can prescribe the needed medicines for your unique situation.

By developing a positive relationship with your counselor or therapist, you learn to recognize relapse triggers and learn coping methods to help you deal with the situations, people and places that can increase your risk of relapse.

Finding Help for Drug and Alcohol Addiction

Understanding the role your counselor or therapist plays in the addiction treatment process can help you trust him or her as you begin your road to recovery. Through proper diagnosis and time spent in talk-therapy sessions, your counselor can help you understand why you are where you are and what it will take to live life free from the control of drugs and alcohol. If you or a loved one struggles with drug or alcohol addiction, we are here for you. Call our toll-free helpline 24 hours a day to speak to an admissions coordinator about available treatment options.


[i] The Mayo Clinic. “Drug Addiction: Treatment and Drugs.” Accessed February 27, 2016.