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The Role of Person-Centered Therapy in Addiction Treatment

You would think all forms of therapy are person-centered or client-centered, if you will. Most people find it surprising to realize that not all treatments focus on the patient at hand. It wasn’t until psychologist Carl Rogers moved the traditional therapy style towards a more non-directive, empathic, and motivational approach that focuses on the patient. Let’s explore how person-centered therapy can benefit those in addiction treatment.

What is Person-Centered Therapy?

Initially known as non-directive therapy or Rogerian therapy, people have the capacity and desire for personal growth and change. It’s considered one of the forefront methods of humanistic therapies. This is quite a different approach to psychotherapy that views people as inherently flawed and problematic behaviors that require treatment. Instead, a person-centered approach uses non-authoritative approaches that let people take more of a lead in their discussions with their therapist. 

Simultaneously, the therapy acts as a compassionate and empathetic facilitator that listens without judgment and takes the time to acknowledge the person’s or client’s experiences. The therapist is only there to guide people through the therapeutic process without interrupting the client’s self-discovery process.

When Is It Used?

One would think this form of therapy is always used. But, in reality, it works best in specific situations. Those who need to improve their self-confidence, gain a stronger sense of identity, and build healthy interpersonal relationships can benefit from this form of therapy. It’s very common for the treatment of:

  • Grief
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Stress
  • Abuse
  • Substance use disorder
  • Mental health conditions 

How Person-Centered Therapy Works for Addiction Treatment

Rogerian therapy works from the foundation that everyone’s views of their world and the ability to manage it should be trusted. Overall, Roger believed all of us have the power to find solutions and make appropriate changes in our lives. Person-centered therapy allows the clients to focus on their understanding of their experiences as a platform to begin healing. For the most part, Roger says six factors that make sure this form of treatment is effective.

  1. Therapist-client psychological contact: There must be a relationship between the therapist and client to achieve successful and positive personal change after treatment.
  2. Client vulnerability: The client is often unaware of the discrepancy between their self-image and actual experiences that leave them quite vulnerable.
  3. Therapist genuineness: Therapists must be self-aware, genuine, and congruent to stay true within the therapeutic relationship.
  4. Unconditional positive regard (UPR): The therapist must accept without any conditions or judgment the client’s experiences, positive or negative.
  5. Therapist empathy: Throughout the therapeutic experience, the therapist must demonstrate compassion and recognize emotional experiences without getting involved.
  6. Client perception: To some degree, the client must perceive the therapist’s unconditional positive regard and empathy. 

What to Expect from Treatment?

Considered a form of talk therapy or psychotherapy, clients should expect to do much of the talking. Here, the therapists will not judge or interpret anything that you say. Instead, they’ll restate your words in an attempt to fully understand the client’s feelings and thoughts about a particular experience. When we hear our words repeated back to use, we may then want to self-edit and clarify what we’re trying to say.

In other words, the client-focused process facilitates your self-discovery, self-acceptance, and provides a means toward healing and positive growth. To be effective, this form of therapy must be part of a larger comprehensive treatment plan. Find one that includes cognitive-behavioral therapy, group support meetings, medication-assisted therapy, and other evidence-based approaches. 

One evaluation that looked at the effectiveness of person-centered therapy suggested that this approach was practical for individuals experiencing common mental health problems such as depression and anxiety and may even help those experiencing more moderate to severe symptoms.

However, some studies have suggested that person-centered therapy’s core factors alone are not necessarily enough to promote lasting change in clients.

Where to Find a Person-Centered Therapist?

Licensed mental health professionals from various disciplines who have training and experience in the Rogerian approach can use client-centered therapy. A psychotherapist is a general term that means psychiatrists, psychologists, licensed professional counselors, licensed social workers, and other licensed professionals with mental health training can do psychotherapists. 

If you choose to attend addiction treatment, odds are they’ll have several psychotherapists on staff. Even still, to find a therapist, you want to make sure that they:

  • Have the right education. Most psychotherapists have a master’s or doctoral degree with training in psychological counseling. 
  • Are certified and licensed. Make sure they meet the state certification and licensing requirements for their discipline. 
  • Have the right area of expertise. While all psychotherapists can treat a myriad of mental health conditions, you should look for one with experience treating your symptoms or area of concern. 

Getting Help for Addiction

After all, tailoring a treatment plan to a client’s strengths and significant areas of concern offers the best chance at success, which is our philosophy here at Lighthouse Recovery Institute. We begin each person’s journey by creating a treatment plan that will best meet their needs and help them reach their goals. Our assessment will let us know if a patient-centered therapy approach might be significantly favorable in someone’s treatment plan at the start of treatment. 

Building a connection between a client and a therapist can be challenging, but the payoffs are well worth the work it takes to achieve. That’s the importance of choosing a treatment facility that offers comprehensive therapies that promote healing.

All things considered, no matter what you’ve been through, recovery is possible. Lighthouse Recovery Institute offers several approaches and all different therapies to address the real, underlying causes of the conditions. Look no further for help than right here. We are ready to be with you every step of the way toward recovery.

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