5 Examples of How Confrontational Therapy Works

Nobody ever intends to become addicted to alcohol or drugs and despite knowing the immense risk of abusing mind-altering substances, most individuals are still surprised when they discover that they have become physically and even psychologically dependent. Characterized as a chronic and progressive disease of the brain, addiction is caused by altered, abnormal structure and functioning of the brain; in other words, the development of chemical dependency causes actual, physical changes in the brain, which result in abnormal cognition. Although addiction can be treated, many of the psychological and behavioral effects of addiction can be quite difficult to overcome. Fortunately, there are a variety of addiction treatments and therapies available that break recovery down into its individual components with each form of treatment addressing specific symptoms of addiction. Confrontational therapy is a psychotherapeutic technique or modality that is sometimes considered controversial and is often used to treat individuals who suffer from addiction to alcohol or drugs.

A common misconception is that confrontational therapy involves the therapist attacking a patient aggressively, but in the most basic sense, confrontational therapy merely refers to the practice of bringing contradictory thoughts, feelings, and behaviors to the awareness of the patient; in essence, the therapist is “confronting” the patient with his or her inconsistencies, which forces the patient to acknowledge and address them. To describe it in another way, confrontational therapy is a technique that a therapist uses to provoke patients to confront themselves and their own inconsistencies. As such, the following are five examples that illustrate how confrontational therapy works and how it can be effective.

Helping Patients Overcome Denial

confrontational therapy session

Whether because they are unwilling or unable to face reality, addicts frequently deny their addictions. Denial is a common coping strategy and defense mechanism that’s been well-documented in its use; we employ denial in order to make harsh realities somewhat more palatable. However, addicts deny the severity or reality of their addictions to a fault for a number of reasons, which can include not wanting others to judge them for their addictions or urge them to seek treatment. Confrontational therapy can be an effective way of showing a patient that his or her behaviors indicate an addiction despite the individual’s refusal to believe or accept it.

Overcoming the Tendency for Victims of Abuse to Blame Themselves

A common characteristic among individuals who have been victimized is a tendency to blame themselves for their abusers’ attacks. In other words, victims commonly take the responsibility of criminal acts from the actual criminals and place it on themselves. Although this assumption of unwarranted guilt would seem to serve the purpose of protecting or excusing the abusers for their actions, oftentimes victims feel they did something to provoke the attack. Other times victims take the blame and fail to report the incident due to fearing that the attacker will come back for vengeance if they turn them in. Confrontational therapy can sometimes be helpful in certain instances of self-blame in victims of violence and abuse, helping these individuals to realize that they don’t deserve their attacks anymore than a victim of robbery deserved to be robbed.

Taking Responsibility & Accountability

While it’s particularly common among addicts, there are many individuals who show a tendency to blame others for their problems rather than taking responsibility and being accountable for their actions. In fact, many of these individuals maintain the belief that anything bad that happens to them actually happens because of the actions of others. Confrontational therapy can be especially effective in these instances, pointing how how a patient’s own actions directly caused their hardships rather than the actions of third parties so that the individual can begin being accountable for his or her actions.

Encouraging Honesty & Objectivity

Dishonesty is a very common trait among individuals who suffer from addiction. Many addicts had been good, honest people before they began abusing alcohol and drugs, but once they become physically and psychologically dependent on chemical substances, they become subject to compulsive drug-seeking behavior. This often results in dishonesty as individuals are ready and willing to do whatever necessary to obtain the next fix. As such, confrontational therapy is effective in getting patients to understand the gravity of their dishonest, the effects it has on themselves and others, and to begin breaking the habit of being dishonest.

Preventing Justification & Rationalization of Harmful Behaviors

When confronted about his or her addiction, an addict’s response is almost always to justify the behavior. Addicts often say that they need to abuse alcohol or drugs—due to stress or a health condition involving chronic pain or being unable to get to sleep at night or any of a number of other reasons—and that it’s not their faults that they are addicted because their substance abuse actually helps them. However, confrontational therapy can break down addicts’ justification and rationalization, helping them to realize that their substance abuse is more harmful to them than it is helpful.

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Confrontational therapy might not be the best psycho-therapeutic tool for every individual, but in some instances it can be extremely effective in helping addicts overcome the contradictions and inconsistencies in their thoughts and behaviors. If you or someone you love is suffering from chemical dependency and would benefit from learning more about treatment, call Recovery Hub at 1-888-220-4352. With a brief consultation and assessment, one of our recovery specialists can help you or your loved one begin the journey back to health and happiness today.

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