Individual Addiction Counseling

Individual Addiction Counseling

Individual counseling, which focuses on the person in treatment, is a useful practice in addiction treatment. It is part of nearly every drug rehab and mental health treatment program. Although many programs also include family or group therapy in the beginning, research shows that the most effective form of ongoing counseling for addiction treatment is individual therapy.[1] It helps to understand what individual counseling is, what it achieves and why it is so helpful specifically in addiction treatment.

individual therapy

What Is Individual Counseling?

Sometimes referred to as individual therapy, individual counseling is a counseling approach that helps people deal with struggles, experiences, or issues that affect them individually.[2] While a group approach focuses on common issues that affect everyone, individual counseling addresses all the specific, unique factors that affect the person in treatment. This may be past traumatic experiences, abuse from others, the loss of a job, the loss of a loved one, or a wide variety of other issues. Therapists help people identify each issue and explore it, and they tie in a person’s history to get a more comprehensive picture of the person’s life. In individual counseling, therapists may use multiple approaches.

Types of Therapy Used in Individual Counseling

Counseling for individuals involves using different methods to discover important issues. Therapists use psychoanalytic techniques to uncover current and past issues that affect people. These are some common approaches and how they work.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive-behavioral therapy, or CBT, is a method that helps people learn more about themselves.[3] For example, they learn about their fears, sources of anger, triggers, and causes for behaviors. These can be the roots of problems that are tied to addiction and the urge to use a substance. Once a therapist helps someone uncover these issues, it is possible to start developing plans on how to deal with them.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy

Dialectical behavior therapy, or DBT, is a form of CBT that uses mindfulness and focuses on changing behaviors.[4] People learn how to respond in different ways to stressors or people. They learn how to communicate more effectively. Also, they learn how to cope with certain situations or memories. They learn how to regulate their emotions and responses to other types of stress in life as well. DBT helps people learn to avoid triggers or deal with unavoidable situations in a healthier way.

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

Also called ACT, this is an action-oriented therapeutic approach that is also related to CBT. It helps people accept some feelings and responses instead of denying, avoiding, or struggling with certain emotions.[5] Therapists help people become more aware of how they talk to themselves in their minds. People often give themselves ideas about relationships, emotional limitations, physical limitations, or other issues. When those ideas are unrealistic or negative, they can be destructive. By helping people become more aware of them, and by combining other beneficial therapy approaches, counselors can help people improve their emotional state.

Therapists also consider a person’s separate mental health needs using dual-diagnosis therapy. This approach takes both addiction and an underlying mental health issue into consideration and treats them simultaneously.[6] Since co-occurring mental health issues often lead people to use substances, it is important to treat both.

Outcomes of Individual Counseling

The desired outcomes of individual counseling are what therapists keep in mind as they help people set individual goals. While individual goals may be specific, the outcomes the counselors aim for are broader. When people achieve the desired goals and outcomes, they enjoy the full benefits of individual therapy. These are the desired outcomes that a counselor sets:

  • Behavioral changes
  • Improving communication and relationships
  • Developing healthy coping mechanisms
  • Improving decision-making abilities
  • Fostering ongoing self-improvement and development

Why Individual Therapy Is Important During Drug Rehab

When people stop using a substance, it brings major changes that often affect nearly every aspect of life. People may feel confused and feel like they are losing parts of their life. To complicate the matter, stopping a substance also leads to chemical changes in the brain that bring strong cravings and a wide range of emotions. Without support and a solid treatment plan that addresses all the unique ways addiction affects the individual, that person faces a much higher risk of relapse. Counselors work as advocates for people as they start a recovery journey. They help them learn the right ways to avoid using substances, develop healthier habits and focus on their inner strengths.

What To Expect With Individual Counseling in Drug Rehab

People have plenty of opportunities to discuss everything on their minds during individual therapy with a counselor. During drug rehab, the counseling sessions are usually frequent to address all the changes and emotions a person experiences. During the first several sessions, a therapist may try to focus on past issues. While this may feel frustrating at first for some people, it is beneficial for giving the counselor a better understanding of the person’s life and unique needs. It helps the counselor better serve those individual needs. These are some benefits that people can expect with individual therapy during drug rehab:

  • Privacy of everything discussed in the meeting.
  • One-on-one meetings with a licensed counselor who has experience with substance use issues.
  • Sessions focus only on the individual’s needs, struggles, and concerns.
  • All meetings are in comfortable, secure, and safe places.
  • Therapists work hard to create trust, allowing people to feel safe talking about distressing topics.

Learn More About Individual Counseling for Drug Rehab

If you have questions about individual therapy or other types of therapy for mental health care during drug rehab, Every1 Center is here to help you or your loved one. We can answer questions about interventions, addiction treatment programs, and much more. Please contact us to learn more.


Individual counseling is not directly offered by Every1 Center. However, we do recognize that this type of addiction treatment is often necessary and vital to one’s long-term recovery from substance abuse. If you or a loved one require any services that we do not offer, we would be glad to refer you to one of our trusted affiliate providers.





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