There are many different components that make up a treatment program for addiction recovery but one of the most important is individual counseling and therapy. A lot of your time in addiction rehab will be spent in therapy where you will work through issues from your past and present by talking with a professional about personal feelings and thoughts.
For many people entering rehab, it will be the first time they have ever experienced psychotherapy and it can be intimidating to get so personal with someone after years of hiding and bottling up emotions. Therapy can be difficult at times but ultimately it is a cathartic experience that can help you to grow and change.
If you have never been through therapy and are not sure what to expect, there are ways you can prepare yourself so that you get the most out of it and are satisfied with your experience.
Your First Session
Therapy can be a different type of relationship that you enter into with your counselor or psychiatrist that varies greatly from your everyday communication. In therapy, and especially in your first session, you will do most of the talking and the therapist will be an active listener.
While in normal conversation you might experience a lot of feedback or other people relating to what you are saying with their own stories, therapy is all about you. A counselor is a compassionate listener who can interpret your thoughts, emotions, and events in your life in a way that you may not be able to. Therapists spend years studying and understanding how people change, relationships, conflict resolution, and communication.
In addiction treatment, therapists are also highly skilled and knowledgeable about the role of substance abuse in people’s lives and how that can influence them. The first session will mainly be an assessment of your current problems and a review of some important background information about family and spousal relationships and then in subsequent sessions, you will delve into deeper emotions.
Preparing For Therapy
One thing that is important to keep in mind about going to therapy is that it helps to prepare before your session. If you have a particular issue that is bothering you then think about what you want to say about it and how you want it to be resolved. Therapists are a guide but you are the one that must put in the work in therapy.
Writing in a journal prior to your session about your current feelings can help you to be more open before you speak to your therapist. It can get your inner thoughts flowing so that you are not shut off from your emotions when you walk into your session.
You can mentally practice for therapy by expressing thoughts or concerns to yourself and asking yourself questions about why you feel a certain way to tap into your inner curiosity. Therapists will often ask you what your opinion is on why you experience certain emotions or why you behave a certain way. They can offer their own interpretations but they are also guiding you so that you can uncover answers for yourself.
Remember that while you are in therapy, you will have time to talk about everything that you need to address and you will begin to see gradual progress. Therapy is not going to “fix” you in only a few sessions because it is a slow process that requires a lot of patience and hard work.
If your therapist gives you homework after each session you should always make sure to set aside time to think about or work on the task that they’ve provided. If you take therapy seriously and trust your counselor then your sessions should have a positive impact on your mental health.