The therapy experience in treatment can bring about far-reaching changes that improve your physical and mental health as well as overall quality of life. Behavioral therapies are an important foundation of addiction treatment, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

High quality addiction treatment programs utilize a variety of therapies to facilitate whole-person healing. Research shows that people who fully engage with their treatment plan have a far better chance of full, long-term recovery than those who only go through the motions. Engaging in therapy means participating fully and willingly in the therapy process.

Types of Therapy Used in Treatment

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration stresses that no single treatment therapy is effective for every individual. A holistic approach to treatment is ideal and involves a variety of both traditional and complementary therapies that address issues of body, mind and spirit.

Traditional therapies are “talk” therapies that help you examine your thoughts and behaviors. The most commonly used talk therapies include cognitive-behavioral therapy, motivational interviewing, dialectical behavior therapy and family therapy. Complementary therapies offer the chance to look at old problems from new angles. They include art or music therapy, nature therapy, restorative yoga and mindfulness meditation.

Fully engaging with all the therapeutic interventions in your treatment plan will go a long way towards helping to sustain long-term recovery after treatment. Therapy will help you:

  • Identify and change self-destructive thought and behavior patterns.
  • Develop essential coping skills.
  • Address a variety of underlying issues.
  • Repair relationships and restore function to the family system.
  • Find purpose and meaning in a sober life.
  • Learn to relax and have fun.
  • Improve self-esteem, self-confidence and self-awareness.
  • Find intrinsic motivation for ending an addiction.

How to Fully Engage in Your Therapy Experience

Therapy isn’t always easy but putting in the hard work has real and lasting benefits. Here are some tips for getting the most out of your therapy experience:

Keep an open mind. During therapy, you will learn amazing things about yourself. You’ll become more self-aware as you examine your motivations for drinking or using drugs and learn to question your thought and behavior patterns. An open mind ensures that you’ll be able to learn and grow from confronting difficult emotions and experiences. An open mind also assists in identifying the faulty beliefs that perpetuated the addiction.

Do your homework. Some therapy sessions may conclude with an assignment for you to complete on your own time. These assignments can lead to breakthroughs that may not otherwise occur at the time. Put a lot of thought and effort into the assignments to get the most out of them.

Be honest. Strive to be completely honest with yourself and your therapist during your sessions. Avoid saying things because you feel they’re what your therapist wants to hear. Therapy only works when you’re open and honest about your thoughts, behaviors, feelings and motivations. Your therapist will not judge you.

Practice between sessions. During therapy sessions, your therapist will offer techniques, skills and strategies for coping with negative emotions, cravings, stress, family dysfunction and other circumstances that can slip you up in recovery. Make a point to practice these techniques between sessions.

Take notes. If you find that you quickly forget what you learned or discussed in your therapy sessions, jot down some notes as you go. You don’t have to transcribe the whole session, but bullet points or simple notes will assist in your success.

Reflect. Between therapy sessions, take time each day for self-reflection. Writing in a journal can be extremely valuable while you’re in therapy, because it helps you synthesize what you’re learning, and it often leads to new lines of inquiry that are relevant to your addiction and your life.

The therapy experience can help you make your life better on many fronts, from improving your relationships and solving personal problems to increasing your motivation level and helping you create a healthy lifestyle. The more engaged you are in the therapy experience, the better your chances for a successful recovery and higher quality of life long-term.