Alcohol counseling programs can be an effective way to deal with the issues underlying problem drinking. They can also be a way to learn strategies you can employ in the real world when trying to stay sober after treatment.
Alcoholism counselors are individuals trained to help people with alcohol dependence and alcohol abuse problems. The educational background of alcoholism counselors varies greatly, and they can have degrees in social work, psychology, or applied sciences. Some have an Associates degree, while others may have achieved a Bachelors, Masters, or PhD degree. The one thing an alcoholism counselor should definitely have is specific coursework dealing with alcoholism and addiction. In some cases, a counselor must gain a certain number of clinical hours actually helping patients before gaining a degree or becoming certified as a counselor. The specific requirements for becoming an alcoholism counselor vary by state, so you should look for a counselor who is certified in the state where you will be receiving treatment.
What to expect from alcohol abuse counseling
During the first few counseling sessions, the alcohol abuse counselor will talk to you about your drinking history, your lifestyle, and your feelings about starting treatment.
The counselor will try to figure out the best way to provide motivation to keep you sticking with the treatment program even when it gets tough. Once you have acknowledged your problem with alcohol, the counselor will work with you to talk through the emotional and mental issues that affect your drinking. A counselor who specializes in cognitive behavioral therapy will typically teach you different methods of dealing with specific problem situations in order to give you concrete techniques that help you stay sober. In addition to individual counseling, a trained alcohol abuse counselor can host group counseling sessions with other addicts or family counseling sessions to help your family members learn how to better help you overcome your addiction.
How to choose an alcoholism counselor
Like any therapist, the counselor you use for alcoholism treatment should be one that you connect well with. In the initial interview, you can ask the counselor about his or her education and prior experience treating addicts. You might ask about the counselor's success rate, and you can also ask for references. Another thing to discuss is the counselor's personal philosophy about treatment. Some people prefer a counselor with a specific religious affiliation, while others may only be comfortable with someone of their own gender. Because the therapist-patient relationship is unique, it is essential to determine which things are most important to you before starting to work with a counselor long-term.
Inpatient counseling vs outpatient counseling
Outpatient Alcohol Rehab
When you are ready to be treated for an alcohol abuse or addiction problem, you have a couple of options available to you: inpatient or outpatient alcohol rehab. Inpatient alcohol rehab requires staying in a treatment facility until the completion of the rehab program. With outpatient alcohol treatment, you travel to the facility on a daily basis.
Inpatient treatment centers typically have counselors on staff to schedule regular meetings with patients and monitor the alcoholic's recovery. They typically work closely with other members of the inpatient staff, so they can address problems quickly. In some cases, they may learn about other aspects of your treatment through other staff members who are coordinating your care, so your treatment may be more thorough. Outpatient clinics have counselors who schedule appointments with you on a specific schedule, which could be once a week, once every two days, or once every two weeks, depending on the degree of addiction and your treatment plan. An outpatient counselor may not have as full a picture of your addiction as an inpatient counselor would.
Effectiveness of alcohol counseling programs
Alcohol counseling programs can be highly successful when carried out in conjunction with other treatment for alcoholism. The combination of counseling and the medicine naltrexone, which halts cravings and keeps alcohol from causing pleasure in the brain, is a particularly effective combination. Counseling that occurs in conjunction with a 12-step program, such as Alcoholics Anonymous, may also be more effective.
If you need help controlling your alcohol use and want to know if therapy can help you achieve sobriety, call us or fill out our short contact form to learn more about alcohol counseling programs.