addiction therapist

Like any other specialized service you might be seeking, the quality of the service provider, whether it is for an auto repair, a dental cleaning, a chiropractic adjustment, or a facelift, the quality of an addiction therapist matters. It is imperative that the professionals who provide the cornerstone treatment element in addiction recovery are skilled, licensed, compassionate therapists, since they are entrusted with guiding your transition into recovery.

Addiction recovery treatment is not a one-size-fits-all proposition. There are many diverse treatment philosophies and therapy modalities that help shape the program at any given rehab. Having a general understanding of what constitutes a high quality therapist can help those looking for a good fit to sift through the options. Alongside the therapy component within addiction recovery are several other treatment elements to become familiar with as well.

Finding the right treatment fit is an important factor in determining whether the recovery outcome will be a positive or negative one. The individual must feel comfortable with the treatment center’s core philosophy, the environment within the rehab, and the various therapeutic activities and services provided. When someone finds a good treatment fit they will be more engaged in participating, leading to a better treatment outcome.

The Important Role of the Addiction Therapist

By the time someone has developed a substance addiction or chemical dependence they are far removed from the person they once were. Their thoughts, motivations, and feelings, and behaviors are no longer under their own control because the addiction has hijacked the free will. The substance drives the show.

Friends and family members may struggle to identify this version of the person they once knew. That person, the one who could once be trusted and relied upon seems to have vanished from sight. This new person, the one in the grip of the disease of addiction, bears little resemblance to his or her former self.

The addiction therapist plays a primary role in guiding the individual back to their former self, albeit a healthier version. Through the process of psychotherapy, with encompasses both one-on-one counseling sessions and group sessions, the therapist is charged with the job of helping that person in the earliest phases of recovery to unwind the thought distortions and irrational beliefs that have kept them hostage to the cycle of substance abuse.

Addiction therapists are trained to identify the dysfunctional thought and behavior patterns while engaged in sessions with the client. As the client shares, the therapist deftly guides them toward self-examination while helping them see how and why the patterns are dysfunctional. These must then be replaced with healthy, productive patterns that will be tools to be accessed in recovery when the old triggers appear.

The therapists are also called upon to assist their clients in examining any painful emotions or past experiences that may have been contributing factors in fueling the substance abuse. Many people use drugs or alcohol to numb emotional pain that they simply cannot endure. By helping the client discuss and process the pain, it can pave the way toward healing and away from self-medicating.

What to Look For in an Addiction Therapist

An addiction therapist should possess the necessary education and licensing to be qualified for the role. In many states this equates to having a master’s degree in psychology or social work, as well as specific training in the field of addiction recovery. A prospective client might inquire as to the specifics of the therapist’s training, how extensive it was and where he or she obtained the experience. It is this field experience that allows the therapist to apply what they learned in school to real-life, practical situations in the field of addiction recovery.

Other things to consider when looking for a quality therapist might include asking about their preferred treatment methods, also referred to as modalities. You might ask about their personal philosophy about recovery, and whether they use the 12-step program within their therapy sessions.

There are certifications that a licensed addiction therapist might have. These are industry credentials such as:

  • National Certified Counselor
  • Master Addiction Counselor
  • Alcohol and Drug Counselor
  • National Certified Addiction Counselor
  • Co-occurring Disorders Professional (for dual diagnosis treatment)

An effective addiction therapist will possess certain attributes, including empathy, good listening skills, a non-judgmental attitude, good analytical skills, and quality case management skills.

What Treatment Elements Should I Look For in a Quality Rehab?

The treatment elements that make up a recovery program should be seen as parts to a puzzle. Each segment, or each piece of the puzzle, is designed to work together to eventually produce something whole and beautiful. To that end, the essential treatment elements in addiction treatment should include:


Psychotherapy is central to the addiction recovery treatment program. Much time and attention will be spent assisting clients in self-discovery. This leads to opportunities to make shifts in the way triggers or stressors are responded to, resulting in healthier behaviors. Clients will explore pain points, such as history of trauma or abuse, or recent negative life events that have not yet been processed or healed. Evidence-based therapies should be the primary modalities, as these are the ones that have been clinically studied and shown to be effective. Examples of evidence-based approaches are cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), contingency management (CM), motivational enhancement therapy (MET), and psychodynamic therapy.

Peer group sessions

Individuals may feel a certain amount of anxiety or discomfort about being in rehab, at least initially. The small therapy groups provide an outlet for peers in treatment to get to know each other by interacting in this safe, supportive setting. Group sessions encourage participation as a way of offsetting feelings of isolation, while also providing an additional support system. Therapists conduct the small groups by facilitating dialogue around topics of discussion, where participants are free to share their personal stories and experiences. The peer group setting fosters a sense of mutual support, as they are all in treatment together with the same basic goal of attaining a long-term recovery.

Family-focused group therapy

Addiction impacts the entire family unit. Rehab programs include family therapy knowing that areas of family strife or dysfunction can threaten someone’s recovery. By involving the family members in their loved one’s recovery, they will begin to resolve some of the painful experiences and loss of trust that may have occurred while their loved one was in active addiction. Family members are also coached on best practices for setting boundaries and expectations for their loved one once they return home.

Dual Diagnosis treatment

Some rehab programs are designated as specializing in dual diagnosis treatment. A dual diagnosis exists when both a substance use disorder co-occurs with a mental health condition. These programs require psychiatric expertise on staff, as there may be unique challenges that emerge when this expertise is needed. Medication may be included in the treatment plan for the dual diagnosis client, which can help manage the mental health issue and therefore improve the recovery outcome.

Psychosocial Education

Many people with a substance use disorder struggle with interpersonal relationships. Often a substance is used to help minimize the discomfort that a social situation or a particular relationship might cause. In rehab, these issues are addressed as part of the comprehensive plan to avoid relapse, as stress is a significant trigger for relapse. Clients are shown how to communicate more effectively in order to avoid confrontations and negative encounters. They are equipped with new conflict resolution skills that help them better navigate interpersonal issues.

Addiction Education

Classes that teach individuals how drugs and alcohol impact brain functioning are included in most rehab programs. This information can be enlightening to many, as they may not have an understanding of how the substance can alter brain chemistry and structures, leading to chemical dependence. Once this is known it can act as a deterrent to relapse, along with the relapse prevention plan that will be designed as well.

Connection with recovery community

Rehabs usually weave recovery meetings into the program, and may partner with a local A.A. chapter or SMART Recovery chapter. The meetings provide an additional source of social support, and can also pave the way for clients to continue to participate in the recovery community after completing the rehab program.

Medication-assisted treatment

For some clients, MAT can be an intrinsic treatment element through the first year of recovery. These medications provide a systemic protective factor by binding to the opioid receptors and blocking much of the effects of opioids or alcohol. When used in conjunction with psychotherapy, MAT can help reduce cravings and the desire to use, which in turn can help prevent relapse.

Fitness and Nutrition

Increasingly, fitness and diet are now considered treatment elements in a rehab program. In most cases, the individual has experienced a significant depletion in nutrition and fitness, and may even have deficiencies and health issues as a result of addiction. During rehab, an emphasis is placed on eating a nutritious diet that can help restore wellness in recovery. Exercise is also important, benefiting both the body and the mind.

Adjunctive Therapies and Holistic Therapies

Rehab programs now augment the conventional treatment methods with adjunctive therapies and/or holistic activities. These add another layer to treatment by complementing the effects of psychotherapy. For the individual who may have a history of trauma, eye movement desensitization reprocessing (EMDR) can provide added therapeutic benefits. Relaxation techniques through such activities as yoga, mindfulness meditation, art therapy, deep breathing exercises, and massage therapy can help individuals regulate stress during treatment, and then later in recovery.

The Importance of Aftercare

Completing the rehab program is not the end of treatment but only the beginning. This is because recovery is a lifelong venture, something that will need to be nourished and cultivated continually in order to maintain sobriety. To that end, there are some important aftercare services that should be considered when rehab has been completed. These can provide the added layer of support needed during the first year in recovery when individuals are at a higher risk for relapse. These aftercare measures include:

  • Outpatient therapy. Having a professional therapist available can help one work through some of the challenges often encountered in early recovery. Outpatient therapy can be an hour or two per week, individual and/or group sessions, that will provide that guidance and support.
  • Sober living. Not everyone has a supportive home environment to return to after rehab. Instead of risking one’s recovery by returning too soon to an unsupportive home life, consider spend a few months in sober living. Sober living offers a substance-free zone where housemates are all engaged in recovery efforts.
  • Recovery community. There are a variety of recovery communities available, each having their own guiding principals or philosophy. Find one that resonates with your own belief system and become engaged. The meetings will provide opportunities to gain added support in recovery while also for making new sober friendships.

Next Level Recovery Addiction Treatment Provider in Midvale

Next Level Recovery is a leading addiction recovery program located in Midvale, Utah, near Salt Lake City. At Next Level Recovery, a variety of treatment options exist to help you or a loved one begin the trek toward a healthy, productive, and joy-filled life. Offering residential and outpatient programming can offer a seamless continuum of care for individuals completing residential rehab and transitioning to post-rehab outpatient care. Sober living housing provides an added aftercare element that can offer a multitude of benefits for individuals in early recovery.

The addiction therapists at Next Level Recovery are of the highest caliber. These professionals have the education, training, and expertise to provide compassionate guidance for individuals seeking to make fundamental changes in their thought and behavior patterns. Our therapists will assist clients toward breaking free of the grip of addiction by providing the recovery tools that will arm them for this journey. For more details about our various programs and amenities, please reach out to the Next Level Recovery team today at (888) 759-5846.