Different Types of Therapy Used in Addiction Treatment

family therapy

Different Types of Therapy Used in Addiction Treatment

February 3, 2016

Addiction and Substance Use Disorders are complex. Everyone knows there is no “quick fix” or “magic pill” to treat addiction (not as if the medical community and Big Pharma haven’t tried convincing the public otherwise.) In order to treat addiction, a rehab or treatment center must create a multi-pronged, comprehensive treatment approach that is individualized to the specific needs of each patient.

There are many different types of therapy or therapeutic approaches that can be helpful in creating a treatment plan for someone suffering from addiction, alcoholism or chemical dependency.

Types of Therapy for Treating Addiction

Individual Therapy

Individual therapy occurs when a therapist or a counselor meets individually with a client, discussing treatment plans, treatment goals and intimate issues. Individual therapy in addiction treatment should happen at least once weekly, if not more depending on the needs of the client.

Group Therapy

Group therapy is typically where the clients spends the majority of their time while in addiction treatment. Groups are led by a licensed clinicians (or co-facilitated by several clinicians) and can take a number of approaches: psycho-educational, process oriented, trauma-focused, as well as many others. Groups usually allow for important peer-to-peer communication, trust and accountability to take place.

Family Therapy

Any quality addiction treatment center should include a lot of family work in its treatment approach. Addiction is a family disease that impacts the entire family unit, therefore the entire family unit should be involved in treatment. Family therapy is important for a number of reasons: to educate the family, to aid the family members in creating healthy boundaries, to aid the family in how best to support their loved one while in treatment and afterwards in recovery and to allow the family to work through major issues. Family therapy can include parents, siblings, spouses, children or even extended family members.

Experiential Therapy

Experiential therapy is a therapeutic approach that is often used to address underlying, hidden or subconscious issues in a group setting through role playing, props, guided imagery or other interactive activities. These activities are used in a safe clinical space to allow clients to address intense emotions and then process them in a safe clinical environment.

Trauma Therapy

Most clients receiving treatment for addiction and/or alcoholism have some form of trauma in their past. Self-medicating the feelings associated with past traumas are a big catalyst for substance abuse, so it is important that addiction treatment address trauma. Trauma therapy can occur in an individual or group session as often use a number of therapy approaches, including EMDR or DBT.

Art Therapy

Art therapy is often used in rehab to allow clients to learn to express themselves while engaging in the recovery process. Sometimes for those suffering from a substance use disorder, trust and communication are not something that comes easy to them so art therapy offers a different avenue of expressiveness. Art therapy can often be used to reduce stress or identify underlying issues a client may be unaware of by interpreting the meaning of their art.

12 Step Education

12 Step recovery, through fellowships such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) is the oldest form of “treatment” for addiction and alcoholism. Most treatment centers will either base their recovery philosophy on the 12 Steps, support client’s to engage in 12 Step communities while in treatment and especially after treatment or even include a 12 Step immersion process into their clinical practices. At the least, most treatment centers will offer group sessions educating clients on the 12 Steps, 12 Step fellowships and spiritual principles.


If you or someone you know is in need of help because of drug and/or alcohol abuse or addiction, please give us a call. Maryland Addiction Recovery Center offers the most comprehensive dual diagnosis substance abuse treatment in the Baltimore, Maryland, Washington, DC and Virginia area.

If we aren’t the best fit for you or your loved one, we will take the necessary time to work with you to find a treatment center or provider that better fits your needs. Please give us a call at (410) 773-0500 or email our team at

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