The Role Of Behavioral Counselors In Addiction Treatment
According to statistics, many big cities are experiencing significant delays in getting drug addicts and alcohol abusers into treatment facilities. For example, in Boston, wait times for people to get into residential treatment facilities average about 23 days, and more than 90 percent of detox programs in the city are at full capacity. Boston also accounts for 24 percent of statewide outpatient counseling programs, and the two substances that people seek treatment for the most are alcohol and heroin. (1)
While it’s heartening to see that more people are seeking out treatment for their addiction, it is also important to understand what happens once a person decides to begin the process of recovery from drug and alcohol abuse.
That process usually begins with what is known as medically supervised detox that helps to get rid of the toxins produced by long-term drug and alcohol abuse, then proceeds to an actual rehab, which often includes counseling.
Let’s take a look at the type of counseling that occurs during rehab, and the key role of behavioral counselors.
Types of Therapy For Addiction
It is nearly impossible for anyone struggling with alcohol or drug abuse to learn how to make better decisions, and to gain the tools necessary to prevent a relapse without undergoing some type of therapy for addiction.
Drug and alcohol treatment facilities have different types of therapy methods that they provide to their patients, and in many instances, the method is customized to the individual needs of each person.
Behavioral therapies have become very popular for treating addiction, as they help people change their attitudes and behaviors so that they turn away from negative choices when it comes to substance abuse.
Behavioral therapies function on the theory that most types of destructive behaviors are learned, and that these behaviors can be changed.
Some of the most common types of behavioral therapies used to treat addiction include:
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) – Counselors use CBT to help patients learn to identify and correct problematic behaviors by applying a range of different skills that can be used to stop drug abuse and to address a range of other problems that can often co-occur with it. (2)CBT helps addicts learn how to anticipate challenges and to develop techniques to overcome those challenges without resorting to drinking or using drugs.
- Aversion Therapy – When patients undergo aversion therapy, they learn to associate negative behavior such as drinking and drug use with an unpleasant memory or situation. This helps to condition them to avoid that type of behavior, because of the negative feelings and emotions that is elicited. In the old days, counselors used actual unpleasant stimuli such as electric shocks to help patients associate their negative behavior with that shock, but this type of stimulus is no longer acceptable.
- Exposure Therapy – Exposure therapy is a treatment method in which patients are exposed to their fears so that they gradually develop the strength to confront and overcome those fears. As it relates to drug and alcohol abuse, exposure therapy is often used to help patients overcome cravings and temptations. For example, a behavioral counselor might use virtual reality headgear to allow an alcoholic to virtually enter a bar and remain in that bar where people are drinking in order to learn how to control and overcome a craving for a drink.
These are just a few behavioral therapy methods available at treatment facilities, but the important thing to remember is that you won’t be alone during this time because you will have a behavioral counselor helping you get through each step.
What are Behavioral Counselors?
Behavioral counselors are professionals who have been trained and educated in the field of psychology to provide different types of therapy methods to patients to help them change negative behaviors.
They work in a variety of settings, including private practice, drug and alcohol treatment facilities, community health centers, and even behind prison walls.
In addition to providing counseling services to people struggling with drug and alcohol abuse, behavioral counselors also treat people who are suffering from issues that include:
- Mental Health Disorders
- Suicidal Thoughts
- Parents Struggling With Raising Children
- Anger Management
- Eating Disorders
Behavioral counselors also work with addicts who have been in long-term recovery to help them from relapsing.
Most behavioral counselors have formal degrees in psychology, social work or counseling, and many also have advanced degrees in clinical psychology and other specialties, which allows them to obtain their certification in professional clinical counseling.
When you make the decision to seek treatment, you will often interact with a behavioral counselor who also works closely with primary care doctors and other healthcare professionals to design a program that matches your physical, psychological and emotional needs.
Counselors are often also the supervisors during group therapy sessions, and may also provide one-on-one counseling during your stay at a residential treatment facility, or when you attend counseling sessions in an outpatient program.
Recovery Through Rehab
After detox, the next step in addiction treatment is recovery through rehab, because the long-term prospects of a person suffering from alcohol or drug abuse are not good without a sustained treatment program that includes therapy.
If you live in the Boston area and are ready to take that next step, Serenity at Summit New England Addiction Treatment Centers in Haverhill, Massachusetts is only 45 minutes from Boston and offers a full-range of detox, rehab and counseling services. Please call us today at (877) 697-9579 to find out how we can help you get on the road to recovery.