Counseling is an essential part of the addiction recovery process and is vital to maintaining long-term and sustainable success in treatment. A person can be in one or several types of counseling — in an individual and/or group setting — to help them improve coping skills and thinking patterns.
The type of counseling that one undergoes depends on the situation, but there are also varied approaches based on who is present at each session. These often include psychologists, pastoral counselors, psychiatrists, licensed clinical counselors, social workers, family therapists, and psychiatric nurse practitioners. This article discusses some of the types of counseling that one might have on the road to addiction recovery.
What is Counseling?
In the context of addiction treatment, counseling is a collaborative effort between the person who is struggling with substance use disorder and the clinical provider (counselor) to help the person overcome difficulties and make changes toward recovery and long-term healing. A counselor provides the guidance and support that one needs to cope with mental and emotional challenges by talking through the problems. The goal is to help the person realize solutions that will lead to a sustainable recovery.
Counseling for addiction is best provided by a mental health professional who has undergone the training to better understand people's feelings and behaviors. A strong background in clinical psychology and behavior therapy will help counselors assess a person's mental status and offer recommendations.
For these reasons, people most qualified to provide counseling would include psychologists, psychiatrists, licensed clinicians, mental health nurse practitioners, and clinical social workers. Certified peer specialists and pastoral counselors may also be included in this list.
Counseling vs. Psychology
The difference between a psychologist and counselor or clinical therapist is mainly their educational background and approach. A psychologist has a Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.) degree and a board-issued license to practice in a certain state. A counselor usually has a master's degree in a mental-health-related field and a license depending on their specialization or job title. Examples are a licensed professional counselor (LPC) and a licensed clinical alcohol and drug abuse counselor (LCADAC).
Psychologists have the ability to evaluate and diagnose a person's mental health status and recommend specific types of behavior therapy interventions. While a counselor may also be able to diagnose mental health disorders (depending on their training), they primarily work with clients to reduce symptoms and help better ways of feeling, thinking, and living.
Clinical vs. Counseling Psychology
Clinicians and counselors in the field of psychology have more commonalities than differences, though their focus areas differ. Clinical psychologists focus on psychopathology — or the study of mental disorders — while counseling psychologists are focused on helping persons address the life stressors (social, emotional, and physical) that trigger substance use. Because of the greater focus on mental disorders, clinical psychologists' roles often overlap with psychiatrists'.
MATClinics offers a wide range of accredited and licensed counseling services to meet different treatment needs, including:
- Individual addiction counseling: A dedicated counselor will be assigned to a patient to discuss treatment goals and engage in evidence-based therapies to achieve sustainable recovery.
- Group addiction counseling: Patients will be assigned to a counselor handling a group of around 10 people who will conduct activities that will benefit the needs of the individuals and the group. Sessions are anywhere between once a week and once a month.
- Intensive outpatient addiction counseling (IOP): A counselor meets with patients in a group setting for at least 9 hours per week. In addition to groups, a counselor may include individual sessions as well. This is designed for patients who need deeper levels of care and more support in their recovery journey.
- Psychiatry: Outpatient psychiatric care is provided to current MAT and counseling patients only and includes a medication management plan for those with diagnosed mental health conditions.
- Mental health therapy: Sessions are designed to support medication management and psychiatric approaches and are conducted by therapists trained in trauma-informed, dual-diagnosis therapy.
The type of counseling and therapy one needs will depend on the situation. The clinical provider’s assessment, and can often be a combination of several approaches. To learn more about MATClinics treatment approach and find out which program will work best for you or your loved one, contact the caring staff at MATClinics today.