How Confrontational Therapy Can Change the Behavior of an Addict

confrontational therapy session

Everyone is different. As individuals, we all have our own preferences, likes and dislikes, strengths and weaknesses, and so on. The same is true for substance abusers. Each individual who suffers from a substance abuse problem develops his or her habit due to a very specific set of circumstances. For some, addiction might occur due to having increased dosage of a prescription medication with the intent being to increase the drug’s efficacy. Others become addicts after years of witnessing a parent’s struggle with substance abuse or perhaps due to falling into a peer group that consists of other substance abusers. However one’s addiction occurs, each individual’s circumstances affect the development of the disease, making it a chronic, progressive illness that’s also quite variable between addicts.

It used to be that addicts were seen as simply bad people, weak of character and will. Over time, we came to realize that alcoholism and drug addiction were two sides of the same coin, a chronic disease that causes altered structure and functioning in the brain, causing individuals to have a compulsive urge to indulge in harmful behaviors. Moreover, the disease’s high degree of variability became an important consideration in the creation of rehabilitative programming.  A treatment that works well and yields strong, positive results for one individual may not be as effective for others. As such, facilities began offering a wide variety of evidence-based, holistic, and complementary treatments from which individuals could select based on their specific symptoms. Since each addict receives treatments that most effectively address how addiction affects him or her individually, rehabilitative programming could achieve more optimal results.

There are a wide variety of different treatments and therapies available to treat the disease of addiction. Some of them—counseling and select forms of psychotherapy—are a mainstay of most addiction treatment programs and, therefore, are received by virtually all individuals in recovery. However, there are many others that not all addicts receive by default. For instance, some individuals might have a preference for holistic therapies or spiritual-oriented treatments and incorporate such things as acupuncture and meditation into their treatment regimens. Confrontational therapy is another common offering that may be highly beneficial for some while less helpful for others. Despite being slightly controversial in some circles, confrontational therapy has some very practical applications and can be used to great effect for some individuals who are suffering from alcoholism or drug addiction.

What Exactly Is Confrontational Therapy?

man being confronted in confrontational therapy

There has been a ton of research and study concerning the relationship between patient and therapist. It’s generally been accepted that the atmosphere of a counseling session should be one of understanding, empathy, and acceptance. The therapist should try to put the patient as ease and establish trust, which is required in order for a patient to feel able to be honest and open about thoughts, beliefs, emotions, experiences, and so on. However, despite the central role that a professional, respectful patient-therapist relationship has had in contemporary psychotherapy, there are also many alternatives. Confrontational therapy is derivative of and evolved from ventilation therapy, which is a technique that encourages patients to discharge or “vent” their thoughts or emotions by letting them out.

Although it’s sometimes referred to as attack therapy—which has instigated much of the controversy—confrontation therapy does not involve the therapist openly attacking or insulting a patient. In short, it’s a counseling technique in which the therapist is very open, honest, and straightforward in identifying a patient’s incongruous thoughts or emotions, self-defeating attitudes, manipulations, or any other sorts of psychological discrepancies. The purpose of this confrontational approach is to help a therapist attain a more thorough understanding of a patient while helping a patient to form a more realistic, accurate perception of incongruous behaviors. Research has found that confrontation can be especially useful when a patient is either unaware or in denial of contradictions in his or her patterns of thought and behavior.

Using Confrontational Therapy to Treat Addiction & Dissuade Maladaptive Behavior

Confrontational therapy has been implemented in the treatment of many individuals to address a wide variety of conditions. One application of confrontational therapy is in helping victims of abuse to stop blaming themselves for their attacks. However, a confrontational approach has recently been implemented into addiction treatment to great effect. A common characteristic of individuals suffering from addiction is a tendency to deny either the reality or severity of their behaviors. In other words, they frequently deny their substance abuse problems or insist that they are in control of their substance abuse and, therefore, are not in need of treatment.

Since confrontational therapy has proven to be effective in helping individuals to realize the incongruencies between their thoughts, emotions, and behaviors, it can be immensely helpful when used in addiction treatment. In particular, therapists can take a confrontational approach to identifying the overwhelming evidence of patients’ dependencies, highlighting the lengths to which they would commonly go in order to obtain or consume their substances. However, confrontation can be used for more than overcoming the denial that many addicts tend to exhibit.

Confrontational therapy has been used to great effect in helping individuals to realize that their behaviors are harmful, maladaptive, and incongruous. Substance abuse is, itself, a maladaptive behavior, often resulting in severe and unforeseen consequences and frequently used as a destructive coping mechanism. As such, confrontational therapy can be used to help addicts identify the many ways that their substance abuse behaviors have been harmful to themselves as well as others, which is an important precursor to the development of alternate behaviors and coping strategies that can be applied in the place of substance abuse. In essence, confrontation can overcome the conscious or unconscious unwillingness that many addicts seem to have with regard to accepting the implications of their behaviors, which is an essential part of overcoming those self-destructive dependencies.

A Healthier, Better Life Is Only a Phone Call Away with Recovery Hub

While there are many circumstances that can lead to the development of an addiction, there are also a wide variety of treatments and therapies that can address the breadth of effects caused by alcoholism and drug addiction. The disease of addiction has become a scourge on our society and has claimed many lives in the process, but the treatment programs that are available have afforded many with the tools and strategies that are essential to overcoming addiction and obtaining a long-lasting sobriety. If you or someone you love is suffering from chemical dependency and would benefit from learning more about confrontational therapy or other forms of treatment, call Addiction Information at 1-888-991-9667 today. One of our recovery specialists is available for your free consultation and assessment. Don’t let the disease of addiction claim another life—begin the journey of recovery now with a single phone call.

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