Individual Therapy

Detox is the first step in drug and alcohol addiction treatment. Although this is necessary for cleansing your body of harmful substances, it is not all you need to recover from your drug abuse. Aftercare is an essential part of treatment that will help change the way you think about drugs and alcohol since these substances have negatively affected your brain.

Individual therapy is beneficial even for people who are not dependent on substances. It helps people take control of their lives and teaches them healthy coping skills for difficult situations. However, it is especially effective for people who suffer from substance abuse and need to confront difficult issues. Individual therapy at North Jersey Recovery Center can do wonders for your addiction treatment.

What is Individual Therapy?

Individual therapy is a method of helping people who have mental health issues, trauma, addiction, or general emotional struggles. It is widely known that individual therapy can have a positive impact on a person’s well being and mental health. Therapy offers a safe space for you to open up about your feelings and experiences with a psychologist or licensed mental health counselor. 

Individual therapy consists of a one-on-one, 45-to-60 minute session with a counselor that is usually weekly. During your sessions, you will talk about anything that is concerning or bothering you, and throughout your treatment, you will learn how to cope with the thoughts and behaviors you’re experiencing. Individual therapy can last anywhere from a few sessions (short-term) to months or years (long-term). 

Although the specific goals of your individual therapy will be determined by you and your therapist, there a few general things that it can help with:

  • Inability to sleep
  • Coping with daily life
  • Controlling or eliminating troubling symptoms
  • Life transitions, like divorce, death, or career changes
  • Recovering from abuse, whether it be physical, emotional or sexual

Individual therapy may be used in conjunction with medication. For this type of therapy to be successful, both the patient and the psychologist must be committed to attending sessions.  

What Happens in Individual Therapy?

In individual therapy, you will confront many deep-seated issues and traumatic life situations that have led to your addiction. Addiction doesn’t just begin out of nowhere; it can take years to develop. When people experience events like these, they may feel ashamed or scared to talk about them. As a result, they tend to bury their emotions and turn to substance use for comfort. 

The ultimate goals of your individual therapy sessions (and how many sessions you need) will be determined by you and your psychologist. As mentioned previously, you can talk to your therapist about virtually anything that is on your mind. For people coming out of addiction, there will be more specific issues to talk about. These can include:

  • Identifying triggers
  • Changing thinking patterns
  • Confronting difficult memories
  • Relapse prevention

Triggers can be anything from people to objects or situations that may set off a craving. In therapy, you will work on identifying these triggers and learn how to avoid them. If some triggers are unavoidable, like running into a particular person on the street, individual therapy will teach you how to deal with such triggers in a healthy way. 

Individual therapy will also aid in relapse prevention. Whenever you are admitted to rehab for addiction, the first step will be a medical detox administered by clinical staff. This will cleanse your body of any harmful substances and wean you off of them. Even once the physical dependence on drugs is gone, however, there is still more work to be done. This is where aftercare, which includes individual therapy, comes in. Your therapist will work with you to ensure that you don’t turn to drugs again.

When you first walk into therapy, you may find it hard and stressful to confront difficult memories. You may cry or feel angry or mentally exhausted. Over time, however, you will learn to open up to your therapist and feel more comfortable in your sessions. He or she will become your trusted confidant.

Types of Individual Therapy

There are many types of individual therapy you can choose from. Which one you enroll in depends on which will be the most effective for someone in your situation. Below are a select few of the many categories of individual therapy. 

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a branch of individual therapy that focuses on people’s thoughts rather than their behaviors. CBT combines cognitive (learning) and behavioral theories to show that how you perceive a situation determines a reaction rather than the reality of the situation. Through CBT, therapists will identify certain thoughts that are harmful and negative and replace them with more positive and healthy ones. For someone who has an addiction, CBT can help them see what thought patterns and behaviors have led to it.

CBT focuses on the present rather than the past. In your therapy sessions, you will have to recall painful and often upsetting thoughts about your problems. Together with your therapist, you will determine if these thoughts are realistic. You might also have homework in which you will apply your new skills in your everyday life. 

Any remotely negative thought patterns could contribute to your addiction. This is why it’s important to identify and understand these thoughts to uncover the reason why you began abusing substances. The goal of CBT is for patients to be actively involved in their treatment so they can understand that how they approach everyday situations is important.

CBT successfully treats trauma-related disorders, anxiety, depression, and eating disorders.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy

Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is a branch of CBT that helps regulate emotions. It does this by using the theory of dialectics, or balancing opposites. Instead of promoting an “either-or” outlook on life, DBT takes a “both-and” approach. This gives the patient a way to look at two differing perspectives at once. This helps you promote balance and avoid looking at issues as black or white. The main “balancing opposites” of DBT are change and acceptance.

DBT has been known to treat borderline personality disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and eating disorders.

Interpersonal Therapy

Interpersonal therapy aims to improve a patient’s interpersonal relationships, which can be greatly damaged by addiction. It does this by focusing on four areas:

  • Addressing interpersonal shortfalls, like unfulfilling relationships and social isolation
  • Managing unresolved grief related to the death of a loved one
  • Major life transitions, like moving to another city or getting divorced
  • Conflicts with family members, close friends, or coworkers

Interpersonal therapy sessions are structured, with homework and regular assessments, and they usually take place over 12 to 16 weeks. In the beginning, your therapist will look at any depressive symptoms you have, as well as your close relationships. By the end of your treatment, relationship patterns will change for the better. When you have better relationships with your family, friends, and coworkers, your life will improve and you can move away from addiction.

Interpersonal therapy can effectively treat drug and alcohol addiction, bipolar disorder, and eating disorders.


Biofeedback is an individual therapy technique that helps people take more control of how their bodies function. Biofeedback monitors a person’s physiological state and then “feeds” information on it back to them. Once they receive it, they are trained to control aspects of their physiology. This, in turn, will help manage symptoms of psychological conditions like an addiction.

Benefits of Individual Therapy

About 75% of people who go through therapy show some kind of benefit from it. Whether you want to tackle immediate issues or complex and long-standing ones, individual therapy offers numerous benefits to those who seek it:

  • It provides you with one-on-one attention. 
  • It gives you tools to resolve conflicts.
  • It’s confidential and respects your privacy. 
  • It helps you manage unhealthy reactions.
  • It gives you time for individual growth.

Individual therapy can be done at your convenience, and the pace can go however fast or slow you need it to be. Your therapist will work with you to figure out the best time to meet and also determine how long each of your sessions will be. Individual therapy also gives you the added benefit of confidentiality. In group therapy where multiple people can hear what you say. But everything said in individual therapy will stay between you and your therapist and will not leave the room. 

You also receive one-on-one attention in individual therapy. Group therapy allows multiple people to speak up and discuss their feelings with others, but you may not be comfortable in this kind of environment. With the personal attention that individual therapy brings, you’ll find it easier to open up and be vulnerable.

Conflicts in life are never easy to deal with. However, individual therapy can give you skills that will help you to face these conflicts head-on through several different techniques. These may involve meditation, mantras, and practicing confronting loved ones during sessions. Over time, your normally unhealthy reactions to situations will be replaced with better ones.

Experience Individual Therapy at North Jersey Recovery Center

We at North Jersey Recovery Center are dedicated to making sure you are living your best life without drugs and alcohol. Recovering from addiction can be exhausting and seem impossible, but it doesn’t have to be. We guarantee that we offer a type of individual therapy that is suited for you. Contact us today, and one of our experienced staff members will guide you toward the best program for you!

Reviewed for Medical & Clinical Accuracy by Laura Riley

Laura-Riley-Cropped-Profile-150x150Laura Riley, MA, LCADC, CCS is an Administrator with North Jersey Recovery Center.