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5 Techniques Counselors Use to Help Treat Behavioral Addiction

Counselors Use These Five Techniques for Treating Behavioral Addiction

  • 5 Techniques Counselors Use to Help Treat Behavioral AddictionCognitive Behavioral Therapy
  • Contingency Management
  • Motivational Interviewing
  • 12-step Programs
  • Formation of a Therapeutic Alliance

A person earning a degree in psychology, social work or medicine may want to know about the five techniques that counselors use to help treat behavioral addiction. There are many recognized types of behavioral addictions, including gambling disorder, compulsive shopping, and internet addiction. Understanding the therapeutic techniques used in treating these addictions could help a counselor expand their scope of care for their patients.

Related resource: 30 Most Affordable Christian Master’s in Counseling Online

1. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a proven counseling technique that is used for all types of addictions as well as other mental health disorders. In cognitive-behavioral therapy, the counselor teaches the individual how to recognize and change their maladaptive behaviors. The technique also helps the individual develop healthy coping skills, which can reduce the risk of a relapse. The individual also learns what to do when they find themselves in a risky situation.

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2. Contingency Management

Contingency management is a technique in which there are material rewards used for desirable behaviors. It is much like rewarding a child for exhibiting a good and desired behavior. Contingency management has been shown to decrease the rate of relapse in drug addiction, and it is also effective in behavioral addiction. An example of the material reward could be that a person who is attempting to recover from a gambling addiction would buy and download a new song on their smartphone instead of buying a lottery ticket or heading to the casino.

3. Motivational Interviewing

Some people feel ambivalent about recovering from a behavioral addiction. Perhaps it was not their idea to go into counseling or attempt to end the addiction. It may be that they are only there because of a family member’s, spouse’s, friend’s or co-worker’s encouragement. Motivational interviewing is a counseling technique that helps the individual embrace the idea of recovery. It helps the person find their own motivation to recover from the behavioral addiction. The individual works with the counselor in order to enact a plan for change. This gives them more control over their recovery.

4. 12-step Programs

Counselors may facilitate 12-step programs to help treat behavioral addictions. Some of the most well-known 12-step programs include Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous. There are also 12-step programs for clutterers, co-dependents, food addicts, gamblers, over-eaters, workaholics and people with sex addictions. The counselors coordinate the meetings, facilitate the discussions and provide different group counseling techniques. They also promote awareness of the groups and link people within the groups together in order to promote accountability.

5. Formation of a Therapeutic Alliance

According to the United States National Library of Medicine, the formation of a therapeutic alliance is another important technique used by counselors in order to help treat behavioral addiction. The therapeutic alliance involves understanding and accepting the patient, clarifying the nature of their problem, indicating that the counselor will be working with the patient on the problem, communicating to the client that the counselor is there to help the person help themselves and expressing empathy. It also includes listening and fostering hope for positive changes.

Most counselors use multiple techniques in their practices. If one particular technique does not yield the desired results for a patient, the counselor can change the technique or add another type of therapy in order to enhance the effectiveness of treatment. Being familiar with these five techniques counselors use to help treat behavioral addiction could allow them to deliver the best possible level of care to their patients.