People with substance use disorder have two universal needs: unconditional positive regard and acceptance. Addiction expert, Dr. Gabor Maté, asserts that drug and alcohol use is often rooted in trauma and emotional pain. In addition to carrying the burden of past trauma, many participants are also dealing with the social and familial fallout of their substance use disorder, to include broken relationships. These factors can make it difficult to trust others, and can contribute to an overall sense of loneliness and isolation.
The therapeutic relationship is one in which people can not only begin to trust again, but also process past events so they don’t hold as much power over the present moment. Individual therapy also helps participants manage symptoms of co-occurring disorders – or mental health disorders that occur alongside substance use disorder – and to assess what kind of support will be needed post treatment.
Individual therapy is a way to gain a better understanding of who you are and what motivates you. A therapist will help you identify and explore the “blind spots” and behavioral patterns contributing to your substance use. While the blanket aim is to help you achieve your goals, the emphasis in the therapeutic relationship is making you feel safe, seen and heard.