Types of Alcoholism Therapy

Proven types of alcoholism therapy are integral components in comprehensive treatment programs to help drinkers and their families acquire skills that help advance treatment, facilitate the mental and physical healing process, and foster abstinence.

Skills that are learned extend past the treatment period and are designed to be applied throughout life in support of wellness and sobriety.

Following are types of alcoholism therapy that have proven effective in helping problem drinkers and their families begin the path to recovery.

Motivational Enhancement Programs

These programs are designed to raise drinkers' awareness of the impact alcohol has on their lives, as well as the lives of family, co-workers and society. They are encouraged to accept responsibility for past actions and make a commitment to change future behavior.

Therapists help alcoholic patients understand and accept the benefits of abstinence, review treatment options, and design a treatment plan to which they will commit.

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Cognitive-Behavioral Coping-Skills Therapy

Comprised of a group of therapeutic approaches, cognitive behavioral therapy helps alcohol-dependent people acquire skills to recognize, cope and change problem-drinking behaviors.

By understanding what needs are filled by drinking, a therapist is able to work with an alcoholic patient to find new ways to address needs that don’t include drinking -- and modify psychological dependence on the drug.

During therapy sessions, patients are taught essential coping skills to:

  • Recognize what triggers the urge to drink
  • Manage negative moods and emotional vulnerabilities
  • Change social outlets and friendships to focus on something other than drinking

12-Step Facilitation Therapy

This peer-support approach encourages people to become involved with a 12-step or related program that complements professionally supervised therapy.

Programs like Alcoholics Anonymous, Smart Recovery, SOS and Women for Sobriety are typically recommended with all forms of alcoholism therapy because they provide alcohol-dependent individuals with an encouraging, supportive environment.

Support group meetings focus on abstinence and fosters each individual’s physical, mental and spiritual health.

Behavioral Couples Therapy

This approach combines a focus on alcoholism recovery with efforts to repair and improve relationships. For the therapy to be effective, both partners must be committed to the relationship and want to strengthen it.

Only one spouse should be alcohol dependent for the therapy to have impact. If both couples are alcoholics, different strategies need to be deployed so couples are less likely to relapse together.

Therapy includes providing the non-dependent partner with training on communication and support strategies that facilitate the advancement of treatment and sobriety. An integral component of couples therapy involves developing a "contract" agreeing that:

  • The alcoholic-dependent partner will commit to abstinence
  • The non-dependent partner will offer continual support and reinforcement
  • Neither partner will discuss past addictive behavior and its consequences
  • Neither partner will discuss the future and misuse outside of the therapy sessions

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  • Speak with a treatment specialist 24/7
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  • Discuss your treatment options


For information on treatment options that include psychosocial types of alcoholism therapy, be sure to visit our section on alcoholism treatment.

Related Information:

Treatment for Alcoholism - Learn about the different components that an alcoholism treatment program should include.

Alcoholic Treatment - Find out how Alcoholic Anonymous meetings work. List of the Twelve Steps or principles for recovery from alcoholism.

Alcohol Rehab - Information on how to choose the right drug alcohol rehab center. Important factors to look for that make an alcohol rehab program successful.

Dry Drunk Syndrome - is common in former alcoholics. What it is, signs to look for, how to cope and keep from relapsing.

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