Seeking Rehab: Researching and Speaking to a Counselor

Rehab gives people a life-changing opportunity to break away from the pressures of life to focus on their health. Also, as it rids bodies of toxic chemicals through detox, treatment helps people sharpen coping skills and regain clarity about their lives. One key to maintaining these gains is to partner with the right therapist.

Treat Your Disease with a Specialist

Just like managing other chronic, progressive illnesses, treating addiction is best done with help from a therapist. Someone who specializes in substance-abuse treatment, perhaps someone who has received special training in the field of recovery, is most likely to be current about treatment protocols, medications and approaches. Therapists work under the umbrella of many professions, from social work and psychology to psychiatry or psychoanalysis; when you make your initial inquiry about a particular therapist, find out what additional clinical training in addiction recovery she has atop her degree.

According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine, an addiction specialist is a physician certified by the American Board of Addiction Medicine and/or a psychiatrist certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology. This certification is given after the clinician demonstrates that he has the education and experience in the following areas of substance abuse:

  • Prevention
  • Screening
  • Intervention
  • Treatment

Additionally, addiction specialists can recognize and treat psychological and physical complications of addiction.

Listen to Your Friends

One of the best ways to vet potential therapists is to tap into the grapevine. People within your recovery community or 12-Step support group may be able to provide you with the inside scoop you need to make a right choice. Take a poll by asking the people you know whether or not they like their therapists. If they do, then find out why; rate experience and skills higher than personalities of therapists.

Word of mouth recommendations can also be helpful when they come from the virtual world. Shop online, surfing websites such as Psychology Today’s Therapy Finder. Such sites are mostly advertisements written by the clinicians themselves. Through them, you can learn about a counselor’s area of expertise and philosophy.

Take Action Now

After you find a therapist, pick up the phone and make an appointment. It is easy to rest on your laurels, especially if you received ample therapy while you were in rehab. Be careful not to procrastinate and let weeks pass before taking action. Industry standard-bearers from the American Society of Addiction Medicine warn that recovery works like a muscle: every day, it either gets stronger or weaker. If you drag your feet before starting therapy, then you could suffer a setback or even a relapse.

Keep a list of questions on hand to reference during your phone call with a therapist. Be sure to ask the following questions:

  • Educational background – Good schools do not necessarily produce the best therapists, so make sure that your potential counselor’s degree was earned through an accredited school, not a fly-by-night operation that sells certificates
  • Specialty and areas of expertise – Watch out for people who claim to be experts in every field
  • Knowledge in areas relevant to you – Float out a few details about your presenting problem and gauge the therapist’s responses
  • Additional training – Ask questions about areas of named expertise. People who claim proficiency in modalities such as eye-movement desensitization and reprocessing after a one-day seminar may be overreaching their grasp.
  • Licensure – Look up the license online, and then check the state licensing boards for infractions
  • Personal therapy background – Be wary of doing therapy with someone who has not done her work

During the exploratory phone call, it is also important to get details about payment specifics. Inquire about fees and discuss sliding scales, insurance needs and missed-appointment policies. If you think you have found a therapist who is a good fit but is out of your price range, then share your thoughts. Many therapists will adjust their fees, but those who do not are likely to offer referrals.

Get First Date Savvy

A secure connection provides the foundation for healing in therapy say researchers at the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Find someone you can work with you by tuning into your radar during your first appointment. Pay attention to the following thoughts:

  • Notice how you feel when you are in the room – A good therapist will help you to feel heard when you speak
  • Observe body language – The therapist should be focused on you and free of distractions
  • Do not rush – Take the time to determine if you have picked correctly. If you conclude that it is not a good match, then do not feel obligated to return

Also, remember to voice your concerns. There is no need to worry about hurting the therapist’s feelings by pointing out specific reasons why you are insecure about moving forward. If you feel negative or anxious and are willing to share why, then speak up. You will harvest a crop of useful information by observing how your therapist meets the challenge.

Help for Drug Addiction

If you or someone you love abuses drugs, then know that help is available. Admissions coordinators at our toll-free, 24 hour helpline can guide you to wellness. You never have to go back to a life of addiction if you call us right now.

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