Counseling comes in many forms and can be useful for a wide variety of addictions, including drug and alcohol use, eating disorders, gambling problems, and more. It is highly flexible and can help with short-term crises or long-term recovery and management plans. It can also be customized to suit each individual's needs and situation.
Counselors provide much-needed psychological support as well as judgement-free guidance. A counselor's role goes beyond just listening to a client's problems and making suggestions. Over time, they build trust with patients and form a relationship known as a "therapeutic alliance". This trust allows patients to open up to their counselors, and once this has happened, the counselor can help their client recognize his or her issues, plan and set goals for the future, and maintain a positive, motivated attitude. A strong therapeutic alliance can allow a counselor to help a patient even through his or her darkest times. While it may take a while to develop, this special counselor-patient bond can be a key part of addiction recovery.
Counseling can be done in one-on-one meetings or in a group format. One-on-one counseling is great for those who are looking for a private, individual experience where they can really delve into the root causes of their addiction. Group counseling also offers many benefits. Patients receive support from people who are in similar situations or have been there before, and the sharing of stories, experiences, and advice can be a very powerful tool for recovery. A group setting also allows for the development of friendships and the chance to challenge and encourage one another.
The ultimate goal of counseling of any type is to generate a feeling of relief in the patient, and to make the experience relaxing and cathartic enough that they want to go back for future sessions. In addition to the role counseling itself plays in recovery, counselors provide access to other resources, such as support groups, that can also be of use to the patient.
The benefits of counseling go beyond just helping the patient themselves. Many counselors will also meet with family members and provide valuable support and guidance on what they can do to help their loved one through the recovery process. Counselors are also available to answer any questions that family members might have. Family counseling helps keep relationships strong even through trying times, as well as promoting family support during and after treatment - support that can be immensely valuable to a recovering addict. This counseling can also help to heal family bonds that have been hurt or weakened by an addiction.
After the recovery process is complete, counseling can also help a patient remain sober and prevent relapse. Because of this, it is recommended that counseling continue even after the addiction treatment itself has concluded. During the treatment process, counselors typically help their clients develop comprehensive relapse prevention plans, which include detailed accounts of the patient's past experience with addiction, including prior relapses, a list of warning signs and ways to deal with them, and a plan for what should be done in the event of a relapse. Once a client has completed treatment, their counselor can help them stick to this plan, as well as teaching them valuable skills and coping mechanisms to prevent relapse and deal with triggers, cravings, and stress. Studies have found that enrolling in post-treatment counseling reduces the likelihood of relapse.