Psychotherapy, typically in the form of cognitive behavioral therapy, is a vital component in treating addiction. In therapy, we gain the skills needed to cope with life on life’s terms, without the use of drugs, alcohol, or other addictive behaviors. We learn to identify our problems and develop ways to solve, or at least alleviate them. Overcoming our addictions takes patience and a willingness to learn a new way of living. We’re told we must pursue our recovery with at least as much energy as we once pursued drugs or alcohol.
One of the first steps we take in therapy is to set goals for ourselves. With the help of our therapist, we ask, “What do I want to accomplish in therapy?” In addition to getting and staying sober, we’ll need to work on identifying the root causes of our addiction. Then, we begin to work on other goals, such as overcoming any trauma or abuse issues we may have, and improving the quality of our relationships.
It’s important to note that you and your therapist will form a relationship as well. Developing healthy boundaries with your therapist allows you to build healthy relationships with family members, loved ones, friends and colleagues. While you may fear becoming overly dependent on your therapist if you remain in therapy too long, a good therapist will help you form a healthy dependency: That is, learning to rely on a stable, supportive partner in your care. The length of time we spend in therapy often has little bearing on our dependency issues. You may develop a healthy dependency after two months’ time, while others may spend 20 years in therapy without ever developing vital trust.
It’s critical that you and your therapist regularly assess your progress. Together, you’ll determine which of your original goals you’ve met, and work to set new ones. Change takes patience and practice, and often it’s hard to see the progress we’ve made. Your therapist will be instrumental in helping you identify the steps you’ve taken in recovery.
In deciding how long to remain in therapy, it’s helpful to understand two schools of thought on the subject: the illness model and the wellness model. The illness model sees therapy as a tool to alleviate our problems; as our problems diminish, we may decide to take a break from therapy, either temporarily or permanently. The wellness model views therapy as an ongoing maintenance of our recovery, much like a lifelong practice of yoga, exercise, or meditation.
There is no “expiration date” on going to therapy; many people choose to stop for a while and resume at a later time. How long you continue is a decision you and your therapist should make together.
Hope exists in recovery. Design For Change offers a refuge for addicts seeking recovery in a long term residential program with a full continuum of care options. Grounded in the 12 step philosophy, our programs focus on creating change by taking action. Call us today for information on how we are changing lives, one step at a time: (877) 267-3646