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Questions to Ask When Choosing a Therapist

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August 3, 2021

Addiction therapy is an excellent way to combat an alcohol or substance misuse problem. When you talk to a licensed therapist about your issues, they may be able to recommend ways to alter your behavior and reduce the things triggering your substance use. Choosing a therapist might be daunting, but you can use the following questions to make your decision a little easier.

Why Choose 1-on-1 Addiction Therapy?

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) currently recommends a number of behavioral approaches to help you remain sober and change your behavior and thoughts toward substance use. These can include:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), where you work to identify behaviors influencing your drug use.
  • Contingency management interventions, which use tangible rewards as incentives for staying sober.
  • Motivational enhancement therapy, where you establish goals to strengthen your desire for change.woman in session with her addiction therapist

These therapies go more in-depth to your personal situation than typical group therapies. They allow you to focus on examining your thoughts and behaviors while reducing your desire to use substances. Inquiring if a therapist offers or specializes in one of these therapies can be a great starting point.

Question to Ask Yourself Before Choosing a Therapist

Deciding to go to therapy is a big step in your recovery. That said, there are some important things you need to figure out before your first visit. Ask yourself these questions so you can establish some expectations and goals for yourself:

  • What do I want to achieve in therapy? Is your goal to become sober or to work through the issues causing your substance abuse? Maybe you’d like to learn new ways to cope with stress, which will lead to reduced substance use.
  • What kind of therapy do I want? Ultimately, your therapist should decide on the therapy that’s right for your needs. You should have an idea of the style you prefer before your first appointment. We mentioned some kinds of therapy above, but there are many types of therapy to consider.
  • Can I deal with digging into my past? We all have things we don’t like thinking about, but if you have a traumatic life event that’s contributing to your substance misuse, you need to make sure you’re ready to face it.
  • Am I truly ready to change? Going to therapy won’t be effective if you’re not open to change. You need to be ready to actively adjust your behaviors and explore the reasons for your substance misuse. It will be a difficult but important journey.
  • Can I afford therapy? This might seem a silly thing to ask when your life is potentially at stake, but make sure you have a way to afford therapy. If you’re low on funds or don’t have insurance, you might be able to take advantage of a state-funded treatment center for low-cost therapy.

Questions to Ask a Therapist

Research is helpful when choosing a therapist. Here are some questions to ask the therapists you’re considering:

  • What do you specialize in? Not all therapists specialize in substance abuse treatment, so make sure you find one who does.
  • What kind of treatment do you think will help me? It’s always good to find a therapist that has a plan for helping you feel better.
  • How have you helped others like me? Obviously, your therapist can’t give you any specifics, but it might be encouraging to hear anecdotes of how they’ve successfully treated others struggling with addiction.
  • How will you assess my progress? You want a therapist that has ways of defining your successes.
  • Do you offer any alternative treatments or medication? Sometimes, traditional therapy isn’t the best choice for everyone. You might find that alternative therapies like art therapy help you more. Sometimes medication-assisted treatment can go a long way in helping people stop using substances.

How to Find an Addiction Therapist Near Me

Finding the addiction therapist that’s right for you depends on your needs. By asking both yourself and your potential therapists these questions, you should be prepared for your first counseling session. As for actually finding an addiction therapist, there are several online tools that can help you start your search.

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