Therapies For Addiction

Therapy is an essential part of our residential programme. But did you know there are different types of therapies? Some focus on helping patients overcome their addictions, while others aim to help them cope with life after they get clean and return to the stressful everyday life of work and family matters. In this article, we’ll talk about the differences between different types of therapies and how they can be used together to treat addiction.

Traditional vs Alternative Therapies

Traditional therapy is based on the idea that a person’s problems stem from past experiences. Therapists who practise these believe that understanding what happened in the past will make it easier to understand why the patient has developed certain behaviours and emotional responses.

In contrast, holistic therapy focuses on the present moment. This type of therapist believes that people have an innate ability to heal and that if they learn new ways to deal with their emotions, they won’t need outside help anymore.

The main difference between these two forms of therapy is that traditional therapies including cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) tend to focus on the past. In contrast, holistic therapies like mindfulness or yoga focus on the here and now.

Both approaches have their benefits. For example, cognitive behavioural therapy tends to be effective at helping clients identify negative thoughts and replace them with positive ones. In the context of dual diagnosis, where we experience addiction and a co-occurring mental health disorders, both traditional and holistic therapies help treat both conditions. For many individuals with or without a formal mental health diagnosis, addiction cannot be treated without also looking into the the past which often reveals signs of previous trauma, and/or low self-esteem.

Other valuable therapies used in addiction treatment include contingency management, group therapy and physical exercise.

Holistic therapies can also be helpful when dealing with trauma. They teach how to manage stress by learning new, healthier coping skills and relaxation techniques.

Because of the experience and the proven benefits of both traditional and holistic therapy, we believe that the best way to help someone battling an addiction to drugs, alcohol or behaviours such as gambling, is to provide both therapies within a carefully tailored treatment plan.

Traditional Therapy

Traditional therapy is an umbrella term for many different types of treatments. Here are a few examples of the most common types of therapy available today.


This form of therapy was first introduced in the early 20th century. It involves talking to a trained psychoanalyst about one’s childhood and any traumatic events. Psychoanalysis aims to uncover the unconscious causes of behaviour and emotional reactions.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

CBT is another popular form of therapy. It teaches patients to change their thinking patterns and develop better-coping strategies. CBT is often used to to help people with anxiety and depression, but it has also been shown to reduce rates of an addiction relapse.

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy

Compared to CBT, Dialectical Behaviour Therapy focuses on changing the patient’s relationship with his/her emotions. The goal is to learn how to control anger and aggression rather than trying to eliminate them entirely.

Interpersonal Psychotherapy

IPT is a short-term therapy that focuses on changing how a person interacts with his/her environment. IPT is particularly helpful for people suffering from severe depression as part of a dual diagnosis. Treatment providers will focus on investigating the underlying causes of the condition and healing it through psychotherapeutic techniques.

Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

MBCT is a type of CBT that uses meditation to reduce stress and improve concentration. MBCT is especially beneficial for those recovering from substance abuse.

Alternative Therapies

Alternative or holistic therapies are representatives of the new age in the therapeutic world. Unlike traditional talking therapies, these sessions focus on experience, multi-level healing and different techniques in whole-body treatment.  Here are some examples of alternative therapies, some of which are available during your stay at the Providence Project.


Acupuncture is a Chinese medical practice that dates back thousands of years and is still used as a part of addiction treatment. The needles are inserted into specific points to balance energy flow throughout the body. Acupuncture can be very effective for pain relief, but it can also be used to treat addictions.


Aromatherapy is the use of essential oils to promote healing. Essential oils are extracted from plants and then diluted in carrier oil. Benefits include stress relief and immune system enforcement. In addiction treatment, we use aromatherapy for various purposes. However, it may not always be the best option for you. Make sure to ask your admission assistant for details on which holistic therapeutic techniques are available and preferred for your situation.

Art Therapy

Art therapy is a method of working with creative expression to address issues such as self-esteem and identity. Art therapists encourage clients to express themselves through drawing, painting, sculpture, collage, clay modelling, music, poetry, drama, photography, film, writing, and other forms of artistic expression. Drug abuse, for example, often makes us numb to art and expressing ourselves becomes difficult. As a result, art therapies are highly effective in substance abuse and alcohol addiction treatment alike.


Biofeedback is a technique that helps individuals learn to control certain physiological functions by using feedback devices. For example, a device may monitor heart rate and provide visual or auditory feedback when the heart rate reaches a target level. This allows the individual to become more aware of his/her internal state.

Dance Therapy

In addiction treatment, dance therapy is a form of movement therapy that combines physical activity with expressive arts. It is used to enhance social skills, increase self-awareness, and decrease feelings of isolation. While we do not usually have a dance therapy option at our addiction counselling and substance use disorders treatment plans, our treatment center offers other services which focus on movement and art. Ask upon admission to know more.

Guided Imagery and Visualization

Guided imagery and visualization are two ways of entering altered states of consciousness. In this state, an individual imagines themselves in a safe place where they feel comfortable and relaxed. They may imagine being in a beautiful garden, sitting beside a stream, or lying in a field of flowers. In addiction treatment, guided therapies are vital in finding a place in our minds where we can feel safe and calm.

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