Individual Addiction Therapy In New England

Individual therapy for substance abuse focuses on behavioral change. Research has found that behavioral therapies are demonstrably effective in treating substance use disorders.

As a part of addiction therapy, individual therapy works by helping a person recognize the issues and develop the skills to manage recovery and maintain abstinence from drugs or alcohol.

Applications For Individual Therapy

Individual therapy is a flexible treatment modality with a wide variety of applications.

While individual therapy is a common component of substance abuse treatment, it can also be used to address other mental health conditions as well as everyday issues.

Individual therapy is a common strategy used to address:

  • post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • bipolar disorder
  • substance use disorders
  • mood disorders
  • interpersonal issues
  • stress management

Where To Find Individual Therapy

Individual therapy is widely available through small, personal practices and larger programs that provide dedicated addiction treatment services.

Get Started On The Road To Recovery.

Get Confidential Help 24/7. Call Today!

(617) 657-2877

Individual therapy is available through most levels of care, including:

  • outpatient programs
  • intensive outpatient programs (IOP)
  • partial hospitalization programs (PHP)
  • inpatient programs

Sober living facilities do not usually provide therapy onsite, but many of these programs offer referrals to external outpatient services to meet each client’s needs.

Techniques And Strategies For Individual Therapy

There are various techniques and strategies used in individual therapy to treat addiction.

Cognitive Restructuring

Cognitive restructuring focuses on looking at negative thoughts and how to handle them. The steps of this therapy can be used to create an action plan for negative thoughts.

Oftentimes, negative thoughts don’t reflect reality, and addressing the distortion can help to decrease negative thoughts.

Even when there is truth to a person’s negative thoughts, individual therapy can help a person come up with an action plan to mediate or tackle the issue.

Cognitive restructuring works by:

  • identifying the most upsetting feeling felt in a situation
  • identifying thoughts about the situation that created the negative feeling
  • evaluating the accuracy of a thought as objectively as possible
  • deciding whether the thought is accurate and taking action

Motivational Enhancement

Motivational enhancement therapy (MET) is a therapy created to help someone who may be ambivalent about whether or not they want to address their substance use.

This therapy involves weekly sessions to help the person in treatment see the negative effects of substance abuse and increase their own intrinsic motivation to pursue change.

MET avoids direct confrontation, allowing the client to come to their own conclusions with the help of the therapist.

Some features of MET include:

  • goal setting
  • planning for change
  • encouraging motivation
  • trigger identification
  • learning coping strategies

As a part of MET, the therapist will ask the client to identify personal goals. Together, they explore how substance abuse interferes with those goals and make a plan to move towards those goals.


Life skills are needed to create effective stress management and create positive behaviors.

Skill-building can teach someone to accept social responsibilities and daily personal problems without hurting themselves or others.

Life skills therapy focuses on the psychological and social factors that lead to drug use. It also places emphasis on social and personal skills.

Life skills therapy has been proven to reduce instances of drug abuse, promote self-confidence, and prevent aggressive behaviors.

Evidence-Based Approaches To Individual Therapy

Every person living with addiction has their own experience, so one person’s addiction treatment plan looks very different from someone else’s due to their individual needs.

The kinds of therapy used to treat a person’s substance use disorder may vary if they:

  • require dual diagnosis treatment
  • choose outpatient treatment over inpatient care
  • need therapy that includes a partner, parents, or a child
  • have a more severe addiction

While some people begin therapy during detoxification, many people choose to begin therapy after their initial detox, so they can focus fully on their treatment program.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive behavioral therapy is a behavioral health treatment that is offered by most inpatient and outpatient addiction treatment centers.

CBT is usually offered as an individual therapy but may also be offered in a group therapy format at some rehab facilities.

Clinicians trained in CBT help clients identify negative thoughts and how they contribute to their emotions and behaviors. With practice, clients can learn to process negative thoughts and develop coping skills.

Contingency Management

Contingency management is a relatively controversial approach to behavioral therapy that rewards positive behavior, such as sustained abstinence.

Rewards often come in the form of gift cards and other low-value gifts to help clients feel accomplished, while supporting them to work towards self-sustained abstinence.

Motivational Interviewing (MI)

Motivational interviewing is a therapy that helps clients develop the motivation to seek behavioral change related to alcohol addiction or drug use.

Health care professionals who are trained in MI use specific skills to form the basis for a client-centered approach that is collaborative in nature.

MI is often used to help adults and adolescents who may not be fully invested in their own recovery. Through each session, the therapist will help the client realize their own motivations for seeking a change.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)

Dialectical behavior therapy is a common behavioral health service offered by inpatient and outpatient treatment centers that can be used to address drug or alcohol addiction as well as many other mental health disorders.

DBT has five primary goals, to:

  • improve motivation to change
  • create new skills
  • generalize new behaviors
  • structure the client’s environment
  • enhance therapeutic motivation

This therapy combines strategies to promote abstinence and reduce the impact of relapse.

Making Progress And Overcoming Barriers In Individual Therapy

Making progress and overcoming barriers requires identifying co-occurring mental health conditions and establishing effective aftercare as well as proper case management.

Navigating Triggers

Many therapies focus on helping a person identify and navigate triggers that increase cravings and the likelihood of relapse.

For example:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy helps to recognize and cope with trigger situations where someone may be tempted to use drugs.
  • Family therapy helps those living with drug abuse and their families to combat the influences on patterns of drug use and improve family function.
  • 12-step programs provide a space where people with similar experiences can share places, smells, and people that are triggers for them and what they do to stay sober.

Relapse Prevention

Relapse prevention is an ongoing process. The goal is to help someone recognize the early stages of relapse and reach out for help when they need it.

There are three stages of relapse that someone may experience during the recovery process.

Stage 1:

First is emotional relapse, where the person wants to avoid relapse but their behaviors are setting them up for future relapse.

Stage 2:

The next stage is mental relapse. There’s temptation. Some part of them want to use drugs, and another part of them wants to continue their sobriety. As mental relapse continues, resistance often decreases and cravings increase.

Stage 3:

The last stage is physical relapse when someone starts using drugs again. It usually happens when there is an opportunity to use drugs or alcohol with seemingly mild consequences.

By asking for help during one of the first two stages of relapse, many people can avoid physical relapse. With that said, physical relapse isn’t the end.

It isn’t uncommon for people to relapse repeatedly. What matters is that the person contacts an addiction treatment program as soon as possible.

Begin Individual Therapy In New England

If you, a loved one, or one of your family members need substance use treatment for alcohol or drug addiction in Massachusetts, we can help.

Contact our team at Bedrock Recovery Center to learn more about our addiction treatment services.

  1. American Psychological Association (APA)
  2. Columbia University Irving Medical Center,change%20talk%20or%20motivational%20statements
  3. National Institute On Drug Abuse (NIDA)
  4. National Library Of Medicine: PubMed
  5. National Library Of Medicine: PubMed
  6. National Library Of Medicine: PubMed
  7. National Library Of Medicine: PubMed
  8. National Library Of Medicine: PubMed
  9. Substance Abuse And Mental Health Services (SAMHSA)

Written by Bedrock Recovery Center Editorial Team

Published on: October 11, 2023

© 2023 Bedrock Recovery Center | All Rights Reserved

* This page does not provide medical advice.

Prefer Texting?
We've got you covered.

Receive 24/7 text support right away.
There is no obligation and you can opt out at any time.

Sign up for text support

Receive 24/7 text support right away.
There is no obligation and you can opt out at any time.
Ready to make a change? Talk to a specialist now.
(617) 657-2877
icon-angle icon-bars icon-times