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Focusing on Your Needs: Benefits of Individual Therapy in Residential Treatment

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The decision to go to therapy is often a life-changing one, as people confront the issues underlying their current challenges and learn skills to manage mental health or substance use disorders. In residential treatment, individual therapy naturally complements a range of other therapies, strengthening overall recovery.

You are struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder, wracked with emotional pain, and aren’t sure how to get better. You might think you are stuck, but making a purposeful move towards professional support can propel you towards the positive change you need. Individual therapy offers a guided journey through the sources of your troubles and stress, as well as compassionate, one-one-one support as you create and navigate alternatives. If you are in a residential addiction or mental health treatment programme, individual therapy provides an important anchor by which the rest of your treatment can be based off of. Challenging, empowering, and ultimately life-changing, individual therapy can fundamentally improve your life.

What is Individual Therapy? Understanding the Dynamics

Individual therapy describes one-on-one therapy sessions between a therapist and a client that take place in a comfortable, private space. Sessions generally range from 50-60 minutes and are completely confidential. The purpose of individual psychotherapy is to concentrate fully on the specific needs of the client, set personalised goals, process the client’s unique history, and create healthy ways to manage and cope with stress in a safe, supportive environment. 

When you look for a therapist, you’ll want to pay attention to several key details in order to help you find someone who can speak to your needs. One important factor is what certifications your therapist has. Certifications require training and skills acquisition, and help ensure a high standard of care. Any therapist you choose should be certified by a qualified institution. 

Specialisations are also an important factor to consider. Specialisations are areas of focus within the broader field of therapy, such as addiction, depression, trauma, or marriage and couples therapy. For example, if you are struggling with addiction and depression, connecting with a therapist who specialises in co-occurring disorders and has years of experience in this area will ensure that you’re getting skilled guidance in addressing your issues. 

What happens in an individual therapy session?

While specific styles of individual therapy will vary between therapists, there are some basic practices that typically take place in most sessions. These include things like:

  • A check-in on how you are feeling, and any significant recent events you’d like to discuss
  • Inquiries about your personal history, combined with an exploration of how different events may have impacted you
  • Active listening on the part of your therapist, who will not judge, criticise or blame you
  • An assurance that what you discuss is kept in confidence
  • Possible note-taking by the therapist, or assignment of “homework” to the client

Therapists often note progress in terms of advancement towards your goals, alleviation of symptoms of emotional discomfort, and an improvement in overall wellness. Regular check-ins during your sessions help to keep track of this and inform next steps. 

Are there any disadvantages to individual therapy?

Aside from the higher cost of individual therapy, the limitations of this type of treatment are mostly inherent in its one-on-one nature. For example, individual therapy doesn’t allow for the same interpersonal practice that group therapy does. This means that while you are afforded ample time to discuss and analyse your thoughts and actions in a private space with a trusted counsellor, there’s not the opportunity for you to practise new healthy patterns in a supervised therapeutic environment with other people, or receive support from a group of like-minded peers.

This is where a combination of individual and group therapies can be useful for those with deeply entrenched unhealthy patterns of behaviour, or substance use or mental health disorders. Individual therapy is an excellent place to begin exploring other potential avenues of support with the help of your therapist.

Advantages of individual therapy for addiction and mental health treatment

Individual therapy is a cornerstone of addiction and mental health treatment. There are many benefits to one-on-one sessions, including:

  • Confidentiality – you get to tell your story in a secure, supportive environment without having to worry about being judged by others 
  • Personalised solutions – because your therapist is focusing solely on your unique circumstances and needs, they are able to choose the most suitable therapeutic techniques to address your issues, as well as work on key aspects of recovery, like identifying and managing your unique triggers, building a customised skill set for managing stress, and preventing relapse.
  • Efficient pace – in your individual session, your therapist will adapt to your pace and you will not have to worry about the therapy moving too fast or too slow.
  • Strong therapeutic alliance – working with the same therapist over a period of time allows you to build a strong relationship which is not possible in group therapy – and the stronger the therapeutic alliance is the faster you will progress in treatment.

How Individual Therapy Works in a Treatment Centre

By choosing to seek treatment in a treatment centre, you take advantage of a variety of therapeutic methods all under one roof that are focused on sustainable recovery for the mind and body. These different methods, which often include individual therapy, interpersonal (group) therapy, and a breadth of wellness activities, have a natural synergy that justifies a holistic approach to treatment. Instead of having to choose from group therapy vs individual therapy, at a treatment centre you can reap the benefits of both.

For example, at The Dawn Wellness Centre and Rehab, individual therapy is a foundational component of our treatment:

  • Here clients work closely with their primary therapist to develop their personalised treatment plan. This comprehensive plan includes details about the client’s current concerns, as well as underlying issues, strategies for recovery and their goals for treatment. 
  • Bi-weekly individual sessions during treatment are a safe space where clients can discuss their unique situations and events that they prefer to keep more private, and where their primary therapist can use therapeutic techniques to work individually on their condition.
  • It also allows the therapist to check in regarding progress towards their goals and adjust treatment accordingly, as well as check on how the client is faring in his or her group sessions.

The group sessions at The Dawn serve to enhance the work the clients do in their one-on-one therapy sessions by helping to normalise what clients have been through – giving them the opportunity to build trust and share their experiences with a supportive group of peers, as well as learn from each other. This interpersonal therapy is critical in helping clients recognise their emotions and communicate more effectively. The combination of carefully planned individual and group therapy often accelerates the client’s progress in treatment.

Understanding the Different Types of Individual Therapy

There are many different types of individual therapy that therapists can use depending on the unique needs of each client. A few of the most common types of individual therapy used to treat substance use or mental health disorders include:

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)

Considered the “gold standard” of mental health therapy, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a goal-oriented type of talk therapy. It focuses on helping the client to become aware of negative patterns of thinking and behaviour, and to learn how to respond to these situations in a more effective way. CBT individual therapy is successfully used to treat a wide variety of mental health issues, including anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, eating disorders, and addiction. 

Dialectical behavioural therapy (DBT)

Originally developed to help those living with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) and now also used for those suffering the effects of trauma, this type of cognitive behavioural therapy combines validating the client’s feelings while also pushing for positive change. DBT individual therapy specifically focuses on learning skills including mindfulness, stress tolerance, emotional regulation, and interpersonal effectiveness. This type of treatment is especially useful for those struggling with impulsive or destructive behaviour, as well those who have trouble controlling their emotional responses.

Motivational interviewing

Motivational interviewing is a method of individual therapy that helps people work through ambivalence or insecurities to make positive, lasting life changes. This practical, empathetic approach acknowledges the difficulties in making significant change while building motivation to follow through with it. The motivational interviewer will encourage the client to talk through the need for change and their own personal reasons for wanting it, listening and reflecting on these answers with the client. Motivational interviewing is typically used with those managing a chronic condition such as addiction or mental health disorders, and can also be used for those who struggle with anger management.

Psychodynamic therapy

Often used to treat patients living with depression, as well as those with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), psychodynamic therapy (PDT) is a form of individual talk therapy that focuses on gaining insight on childhood experiences in order to understand more about one’s current mindset and challenges. Particularly useful for those with harmful internal coping mechanisms like social withdrawal, PDT can greatly benefit a patient’s quality of life.

Eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing (EMDR)

EMDR is a type of psychotherapy that processes a past traumatic event through the practice of specific eye movements, which helps rebuild positive pathways within the mind and results in stronger coping mechanisms that can shield the individual from negative thought patterns. EMDR is used for a wide variety of mental health conditions, including PTSD, depression, anxiety, personality disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorders, and dissociative disorders.

Choosing The Dawn for an Intensive Individual Therapy Retreat

Intensive Individual Therapy Retreat at The Dawn

The Dawn Wellness Centre and Rehab in Thailand is Asia’s only internationally accredited inpatient substance use and mental health disorder treatment centre, located just outside the resort city of Chiang Mai. Amongst verdant gardens and with a stunning riverside view, our clinical programme is founded  in a holistic, person-centred treatment approach so that our clients can achieve a sustainable recovery. 

We use a Treatment Roadmap that prioritises individual therapy as well as interpersonal therapy, and offers a wide range of psychotherapies including CBT, DBT, trauma-informed therapy, solution-focused therapy, compassion therapy, motivational interviewing, and more. 

However, for individuals requiring more intensive care, we are able to offer individual therapy retreats as well. These bespoke treatment plans would contain extra individual therapy sessions that not only address the client’s needs for a more intensive level of care, but also help the client acclimatise to and benefit from group work.

Individual Therapy Retreats in Thailand

Stepping into The Dawn’s resort-like residential therapy centre, you’ll immediately feel a sense of calm and safety wash over you. Guided by our Treatment Roadmap, your needs will be carefully and professionally attended to by our internationally-trained staff. With a client cap of only 35 residents at a time, you’ll be sure to get the personalised attention you need to make a full return to health. 

Your experienced, certified, primary therapist will be with you at every step of your recovery, from the pre-arrival preparation stage that marks the beginning of your Treatment Roadmap at The Dawn, to the third and final phase of your treatment as you’re making your transition back home.

Call us today to learn more about how we can help you begin your healing journey. 

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