Treatment Approach

Trauma-Based Therapy Focus

Addiction is 100% trauma-based. Substance use disorder is traumatic to the body and mind, and the emotional impacts are lasting. Various forms of therapy are essential to the recovery process and are provided in our inpatient dual diagnosis treatment program. Addressing deeply seated traumas, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and grief, allows for emotional healing to begin. People in early recovery can start to move forward to process their trauma, their addiction, and the aftermath. When the substance-induced fog begins to lift, thoughts and emotions that were shut down by drug and alcohol use will begin to rapidly rise to the surface. Shame, guilt, anger, fear, hope, and may other emotions and feelings will appear and can be overwhelming. Our experiential therapy program helps each client to move from fight or flight mode to a place where they can begin processing and healing.

Dealing with emotions isn’t something that a person in active addiction often has to do. Addiction quiets racing thoughts, quells fears, numbs pain and grief, and becomes the coping mechanism of choice as a result. When use stops, the impact of experiences and events that one was coping with through substance use, or things that happened while one was active in their addiction, are once again felt.

What is Experiential Therapy?

Our progressive team recognizes and embraces the benefit of evidence-based and experiential therapeutic modalities, such as Psychodrama, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), Equine Therapy, Art, Music, and Play Therapy. Experiential therapy is a therapeutic technique that uses expressive tools and activities, such as role-playing or acting, props, arts and crafts, music, animal care, guided imagery, or various forms of recreation to re-enact and re-experience emotional situations from past and recent relationships.

This can sound scary, but the brain has an amazing ability to adapt and heal. It takes time and healthy habits; without being inundated with substances, the brain can start to rewire itself, bypassing broken connections by using alternative pathways. Defining Wellness Centers pairs our Wellness Lab, focusing on technology that aids in emotional regulation, with experiential therapy modalities for the best possible client outcomes.

The benefits of experiential therapy are plentiful, and through working with an experienced and licensed therapist, one can safely explore the traumas they carry with them. When addressing significant underlying issues, an opportunity for healing arises. Trauma is a wound to the soul. It needs to be tended to like any other wound on the body – you experience the ache that comes from treating it so that it can heal in a healthy way. If you have a broken bone and don’t get it set and cast, it’s not going to heal properly and may leave you with limited functionality. The same is true for your emotions. Every client is worthy of love and wellness – we help you to figure out how to give yourself the permission you need to emotionally heal.

What are Cognitive Therapies and How are They Used?

Cognitive therapies for addiction treatment have been successful and effective in treating those with substance abuse issues. With a focus on present thinking, rather than on early childhood experiences, the patient begins the path to recovery through self-knowledge and more positive behaviors.

Drug and alcohol abuse have been around for many years. Back in 2005, an estimated 22 million Americans struggled with a drug or alcohol problem. In 2017, the rate of adults aged 18 years and over who engaged in binge drinking in the past 30 days was 26.4 percent.

Fortunately, there is hope in recovery from abuse of drugs and alcohol. In recent years, therapies have been effective for those struggling with substance abuse. Both DBT and CBT for addiction have proven to be successful in the treatment setting. Find out more about how these cognitive therapies can be used in your treatment of substance abuse.

What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?

Founded in 1960 by Dr. Aaron Beck, the short term therapy solution,

COGNITIVE BEHAVIORAL THERAPY (CBT) HAS BEEN USED FOR YEARS TO TREAT SUCH DISTURBANCES AS:
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Panic
  • Fears    
  • Eating disorders
  • Personality disorders
  • Alcohol abuse
  • Drug abuse
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Panic
  • Fears    
  • Eating disorders
  • Personality disorders
  • Alcohol abuse
  • Drug abuse

With a focus on how you are thinking, the highly-trained certified therapist helps the client discover distortions in thinking and assists in changing negative thought pat terns. CBT for addiction might make use of a dual-diagnosis model to treat both the mental health issues and that of addiction.

CBT is often used with Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) as cognitive therapies for substance abuse recovery.

What is DBT Therapy?

As another of the cognitive therapies for addiction treatment, DBT stands for Dialectal Behavioral Therapy. Initially used to treat patients with borderline personality disorder and suicidal thoughts, patients with addiction can improve their self-image and communication while learning new coping skills.

Mindfulness, which encompasses objectively noticing thoughts, feelings, behaviors, and external events as they occur, and DBT with group and individual sessions, are used with CBT. Mindfulness, emotion regulation, distress tolerance, and interpersonal effectiveness are stressed, with the goal is helping the patient to live in the moment, while effectively managing their emotions. Coping with crisis is another skill that is encouraged, while meeting goals set for relationships.

Those who have felt stuck find DBT to be very helpful when used with other therapies, such as CBT in overcoming addiction. Cognitive therapies for addiction treatment are an effective tool in recovery from substance abuse, whether drugs or alcohol.

How is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Used to Treat Addiction?

CBT is one of the main therapies used for the treatment of substance abuse.Existing mental health disorders are commonly found to occur with drug and alcohol abuse. CBT is an evidence-based therapy that works with addiction. It teaches recovering addicts to connect their feelings, thoughts and actions as a means of awareness. This awareness impacts the recovery process, hastening it through new behaviors.

By understanding why they have certain feelings, the addicted person gains insight into why their actions led to substance abuse. Misconceptions as well as internalized feelings of self-doubt and fear provide automatic thoughts. These thoughts have led to self-medication to alleviate negative feelings through alcohol or drugs.

CBT helps patients to dismiss these automatic thoughts; false beliefs and insecurities are seen just for what they are. Self-help tools are provided to ensure better moods, and communication is stressed as a means of effectively relating to others.

Managing triggers is taught, and one learns to recognize, avoid and cope with the emotions that led to substance abuse. Often used in conjunction with medication, group therapies, and 12-Step programs, cognitive therapies have been found to be effective in treating drug and alcohol abuse.

Proven Success

Developed in the 1970s, experiential therapy helps clients to heal through actually experiencing. Successfully used in treatment for dual diagnosis, addiction, eating disorders, and psychological issues, experiential therapy aids clients in accessing and identifying emotions. Clients can also recreate past scenarios or work in groups with other clients or clinicians to trigger negative emotions that lead to unhealthy or compulsive behaviors. Through these mediums, those emotions and feelings can be processed in a safe environment.

Clients are able to learn how to cope with stressors that arise for them, identify roadblocks and problem-solve solutions. Additionally, they develop their self-esteem, experience successes and failures, and become responsible for themselves and their actions. All of these areas of growth can lead to a more actualized perception of self, the ability to identify unhealthy and healthy patterns, and personal empowerment. Experiential therapy outcomes also include an improved ability to manage stress, living in the present moment, and healthier communication skills.

We Are Here To Help

We put a heavy emphasis on experiential therapeutic modalities. Our team has both seen and experienced first-hand the impact that these interventions can have. We’re here to answer any questions you have about experiential therapy and how it can help you or your loved one. Call us today for more information at