< 10 Types of Therapy Used in Addiction Treatment and Recovery
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rehab clients in group therapyAddiction recovery is as much about physical abstinence as it is about making positive mental and behavioral changes. The way we think impacts the way we behave, so naturally, therapy and counseling are an important aspect of addiction treatment in rehab and the recovery process.

The Importance of Therapy for Drug and Alcohol Addiction

Using behavioral therapies for drug and alcohol addiction has many benefits and studies show certain types of therapies are effective for helping people overcome their drug addiction.1 Here’s why:

  • Therapy engages people in substance abuse treatment.
  • Therapy provides incentives for people to remain sober.
  • Therapy modifies peoples’ attitudes and behaviors toward drug abuse.
  • Therapy increases life skills and teaches people how to manage stress, triggers, and high-risk situations in recovery.

Even if a client isn’t voluntarily going to treatment, therapy can help break down an individual’s resistance to treatment and open up the opportunity for recovery. There is no single effective cure for addiction, but the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) supports the notion that behavioral therapy and counseling is an essential part of the recovery process, although there are many other treatment modalities that can be used simultaneously to achieve positive, lasting results.2

10 Types of Therapy Used in Addiction Treatment and Recovery

There are many different types of therapies that are used in addiction treatment programs like residential rehab, IOP, and aftercare. Each type of therapy is different and may be more or less effective, depending on the client’s needs. If you or a loved one is preparing to start an addiction treatment program, here are some of the types of therapies you will likely encounter.

  1. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is founded on the core principle that psychological problems like addiction are based (in part) on harmful thinking patterns, negative learned behaviors, and unhelpful coping techniques. CBT aims to change harmful thinking patterns by teaching individuals how to recognize and reevaluate them realistically, use problem-solving to deal with difficult situations, develop self-confidence and self-efficacy, and gain a better understanding of the behaviors of others.3 Instead of focusing on the past, CBT is centered around the here and now to help clients move forward in life.

  1. Contingency Management

Contingency management is a type of behavior therapy in which individuals are rewarded for making positive changes in their lives. It is based on the principle that positive reinforcement is likely to increase the frequency of a certain type of behavior, such as sobriety.4 Examples could include vouchers for negative drug tests, prizes, or natural reinforcements like an improved relationship with a spouse or a significant decrease in health problems.

  1. Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy

Rational emotive behavior therapy is a type of therapy that is very similar to cognitive behavioral therapy. It helps people identify negative thought patterns and beliefs that contribute to emotional distress and harmful, self-defeating behaviors.5 However, the primary difference between the two is that rational emotive behavior therapy focuses more on the person’s belief system and seeks to replace faulty and irrational beliefs with those that are based on logic.

  1. Motivational Interviewing

Motivational interviewing is a counseling method in which the therapist or counselor seeks to motivate the client to maintain their sobriety by identifying his or her intrinsic motivations and values and then focusing treatment on that.6 Instead of being forced to change or face legal consequences or other immediate consequences, motivational interviewing helps clients find their own desire to get sober. In using this type of counseling approach, the counselor forms an alliance with the client that is fueled by collaboration, giving the client the ability to make choices for himself or herself, and evoking internal change to promote lasting recovery.

  1. Family/Couples Therapy

Family and/or couples therapy is designed to address an individual’s substance abuse problems, as well as co-occurring problems and issues related to the interconnected relationships within a family unit.7 The idea behind family therapy is that the addicted person’s actions and behaviors are influenced by their familial relationships and vice versa. Family therapy involves all affected individuals (immediate and/or extended family) and is often necessary to improve relationships, address issues like stress, enabling behaviors, and communication problems to improve the home environment in a way that promotes continued abstinence.

  1. 12-Step Facilitation Therapy

The primary focus of 12-Step facilitation therapy is acceptance, surrender, active participation in the recovery community, and continued sobriety.8 Fueled by active involvement in a sober community, the main idea behind this type of therapy is that a person is more likely to stay sober if they are continually involved in a 12-step self-help group like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). Group involvement provides opportunities for individuals to develop healthy relationships with other sober people, share their lives with people who have similar experiences and struggles, and have a judgment-free zone where they can talk freely about the challenges they are facing in sobriety.

  1. Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) Therapy

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) was originally developed in the late 1980s to treat clients with PTSD. Since trauma and substance use disorders are often intertwined, EMDR is also an effective approach for treating people who suffer from addiction. EMDR is designed to help clients process and resolve traumatic memories, experiences, and emotions while replacing negative images associated with the trauma with positive beliefs.9 For example, if a client survived a horrifying accident, he or she may abuse drugs and alcohol to cope with the anxiety associated with those memories. Instead, EMDR can help the person associate those memories with positive beliefs such as, “I am strong and capable to have survived such an event.”

  1. Dialectical Behavior Therapy

Dialectical behavior therapy is a type of cognitive behavioral therapy. It is designed to help people overcome self-destructive behaviors like addiction by teaching them how to live in the moment (mindfulness), find healthy ways of coping with stress, regulate their emotions, and improve their relationships with others.10 DBT therapists may utilize individual therapy, group therapy, and treatment interventions between sessions to help clients achieve positive, lasting results.

  1. Matrix Model

The Matrix Model is used to help stimulant abusers overcome their addictions to drugs like methamphetamine, cocaine, and prescription stimulants. This method addresses a wide scope of contributing factors for addiction and uses cognitive behavioral therapy and family therapy (among other evidence-based methods) to focus on positive behavioral changes, relapse management, and participation in self-help groups to help clients achieve lasting sobriety.11

  1. Person-Centered Therapy

Person-centered therapy focuses on treating the individual, rather than the substance abuse itself. It is grounded in the idea that shame and rejection hold us back from healing, while self-acceptance leads to positive change.12 With person-centered therapy, the counselor or therapist meets with the client on a regular basis and establishes a stable and grounded place where the client can find relief from an otherwise chaotic life. By providing empathy, unconditional love, and acceptance, the client learns to see himself or herself through another person’s eyes and begins practicing self-acceptance and reflection. This type of therapy can be very empowering for a person who is recovering from substance abuse and addiction.

The stigma surrounding therapy and counseling can turn a lot of people off to the idea of participating in it during treatment. However, therapy is one of the most beneficial aspects of addiction treatment and can foster life-changing beliefs and behaviors that are necessary for a full recovery.

If you or a loved one would like to learn more about your addiction treatment options or programs for people in recovery, call Eudaimonia Recovery Homes to speak with a member of our admissions team today.



  1. https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/principles-drug-addiction-treatment/evidence-based-approaches-to-drug-addiction-treatment/behavioral-therapies
  2. https://d14rmgtrwzf5a.cloudfront.net/sites/default/files/drugfacts_treatmentapproaches.pdf
  3. https://www.apa.org/ptsd-guideline/patients-and-families/cognitive-behavioral
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3083448/
  5. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/therapy-types/rational-emotive-behavior-therapy
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK64964/
  7. https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/principles-drug-addiction-treatment-research-based-guide-third-edition/evidence-based-approaches-to-drug-addiction-treatment/behavioral-5
  8. https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/principles-drug-addiction-treatment-research-based-guide-third-edition/evidence-based-approaches-to-drug-addiction-treatment/behavioral-4
  9. https://www.healthline.com/health/emdr-therapy
  10. https://www.verywellmind.com/dialectical-behavior-therapy-1067402
  11. https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/principles-drug-addiction-treatment-research-based-guide-third-edition/evidence-based-approaches-to-drug-addiction-treatment/behavioral-3
  12. https://blogs.psychcentral.com/addiction-mental-health/2018/05/addiction-and-person-centered-therapy/
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