You are probably familiar with variety packs. You find them in the grocery store, and they tend to have small individually packaged portions of something. Ten little cereal boxes with two boxes of five different kinds of cereal, for example. Or a big bag of candy that has mini versions of several of a given company’s full-sized candy bars. Or a big bag filled with little bags of various varieties of chips.
In each case, what you have is a variation on a single category packaged together. All of the different kinds of cereal are, in fact, cereal. All of the different varieties of candy bars are, in fact, candy bars. And all of the different sorts of chips are, in fact, chips.
Now imagine a variety pack of therapies. We know it sounds odd.
But just like “cereal” is an accurate but non-specific way to describe the contents of a cereal variety pack, “therapy” is an accurate but non-specific way to describe the details and differences among various therapeutic practices.
In this blog post, we are going to detail four kinds of therapy that can be useful to those struggling with a substance use disorder, a mental health disorder, or both. We will follow up with another blog detailing four more kinds of therapy.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
Cognitive-behavioral therapy focuses on the intersections between your thoughts, feelings, and actions. Once we understand the connections between these three things, we are better positioned to identify and employ solutions to problems we are facing. CBT involves functional analysis (figuring out the cause or causes of current challenges) and skills training (finding and developing healthier approaches to address those challenges). This approach to therapy generally lasts 12 to 16 sessions—which makes it quite useful in a substance use disorder rehabilitation setting.
Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)
Dialectical behavior therapy is a variation on CBT. In addition to the functional analysis and skills training associated with CBT, DBT includes a focus on mindfulness, acceptance, and distress tolerance. DBT can be helpful for individuals who struggle to manage intense emotions and strong reactions to stressful situations. The goals include building up an ability to more calmly handle distress and to more effectively regulate emotions so that they are not so overwhelming to experience.
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)
A fascinating therapy that often offers excellent results much more quickly than other forms of therapy, eye movement desensitization and reprocessing is a technique for helping those struggling with a trauma-based disorder like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Studies show that it is possible to change the way an individual experiences a traumatic memory so that the memory is less powerful and less disruptive in the present. Exercises include eye movements, tapping techniques, or the use of tones to help the person suffering from trauma redefine their ongoing relationship to the traumatic event.
Family Systems Therapy
In a family, each individual tends to play a different (or a number of different) role(s). Family systems therapy seeks to help families figure out better ways to communicate with one another while finding ways to improve relationships and overcome shared challenges—which could include any number of things, including helping a family member with a substance use disorder. You could think of the family like a baseball team; things just don’t work out if all of the players try to be the shortstop. By coming together for honest conversations with a trained therapist, families can work toward moving forward together.
The Key to Effective Therapy Is Personalization
We suspect this rundown of a few different kinds of therapy has made one thing clear: Different approaches to therapy are appropriate for different people given their immediate needs and circumstances.
That is why it is so important to seek out treatment for substance use disorders and co-occurring mental health disorders at a recovery center that is committed to seeing each person as a unique individual. At Bel Aire Recovery Center, we know there are no cookie-cutter solutions—and that is why we are fully committed to listening carefully, personalizing treatment plans, and offering a continuum of care that provides each person we treat with resources and support after residential treatment ends. You can count on us to bring to bear our expertise, experience, and compassion to help you reclaim your sobriety, improve your mental well-being, and build on your successes to make lasting change in your life.