How Co-Ed Group Therapy Helps Aid Recovery

How Co-Ed Group Therapy Helps Aid Recovery

There are many successful resources for people struggling to overcome addiction, even just at Enlightened Solutions alone. For every treatment method offered, counseling is a resource that is available to every one of our clients. We offer group co-ed therapy as well as individual therapy since not everyone is comfortable sharing their experiences in front of others.

Before you dismiss the idea of co-ed therapy, let’s take a look at some of the reasons it has high success rates. You may find that it’s worth giving a chance, in addition to or instead of individual therapy.

The Wisdom of Mixed-Gender Discussion

At other addiction treatment facilities, it’s common for men and women to be separated, even though they’re all there to discuss the same issue. There are some valid reasons for this, as many people turn to drugs or alcohol to cope with intimate traumas like sexual abuse. For people with that background, it’s understandable why they may feel more comfortable in single-gendered spaces. It’s also why co-ed therapy is never something that is forced on our clients.

However, part of group therapy, in general, is to benefit from the wisdom and experiences that others bring to the table.

Not everyone is in the same place in their journey of recovery; some may be further along on that road than others. Some may be getting treatment at a facility for a second or third time. Group therapy allows people to learn from the experiences of others, whether it’s through lessons learned from past mistakes, healing strategies, coping mechanisms that worked (and ones that didn’t), and much more.

Life is experienced differently by men and women, and while not everything shared in co-ed therapy may be directly applicable, it provides a wider scope to understand the effects of addiction.

Meaningful Connections in Co-Ed Therapy

At the start of addiction treatment, single-gender groups are recommended before co-ed ones. This is because the start of treatment can be overwhelming, and introducing the dynamic of co-ed therapy may be uncomfortable. Understandably, we want to remove as many stumbling blocks as we can in order for clients to get the most out of treatment. As clients move further along in our programs, becoming more comfortable with the new environment and the people they meet here, co-ed therapy can become a valuable tool for processing and understanding the nuances of addiction.

In co-ed therapy, we aim to facilitate a healthy dynamic between clients who are sharing parts of their lives with us. In order to accomplish this, we aim to diminish distractions by guiding discussion in the following ways:

  • We keep the focus on gender-specific issues that men and women face, as it relates to substance abuse and addiction.
  • We ensure our clients are comfortable and feel safe in this space.
  • We aim to increase participation by developing self-confidence rather than by pressuring people to share who may do more listening than speaking.
  • We aim to remove gender-specific boundaries and expectations that exist outside of the treatment facility, so everyone is on equal footing.

The Benefits of Co-Ed Group Therapy

Not only are the experiences of men and women different, but so are their thought processes. Even talking about the same topic can yield many unique perspectives that members of one gender or the other may never have considered.

Improves Relationships

Since addiction is an issue that affects relationships with family, or perhaps even originated at home, the perspectives of men and women shared in therapy can help clients better understand the nuances of their relationships with mothers and fathers, or husbands and wives. This may be a limited understanding, but it can help enable clients to improve relationships with these family members once they return from treatment.

Men and women can also offer advice or suggestions for the opposite gender on how to address sensitive issues surrounding addiction, as it relates to mixed-gendered relationships. It’s also true that, while many people relate better to members of their own gender, some people are the opposite.

Strengthens Communication Skills

Co-ed therapy is one way to create an environment in which people of all types of communication styles feel comfortable. While the differences between the genders are significant, there are also more commonalities than perhaps many people realize. Clients may find that they are more equipped to engage with the opposite gender upon leaving treatment and returning back to their daily lives.

Co-Ed Therapy at Enlightened Solutions

At Enlightened Solutions, we understand that there is no such thing as a “one-size-fits-all” approach to treatment. Clients are assessed and recommended specific treatment modalities on an individual basis. Some may be recommended for co-ed therapy, while others will not. An atmosphere of trust and safety is critical for any kind of treatment method to be successful.

At the same time, it’s also important to recognize that much of daily life is filled with interactions between both genders. Therefore, it is important to learn (or re-learn) how to build positive interactions and relationships, and the safe space offered at Enlightened Solutions is a great place to do that. As clients transition to life outside of treatment, the skills they learn in co-ed therapy will serve them well as they form new relationships in daily life, or attempt to rebuild old ones.

No matter what type of treatment method you're looking for, Enlightened Solutions is likely to provide it. We evaluate and assess our clients based on many factors, including (but not limited to) physical and mental health, the severity of the addiction, past experiences, and present needs. Our assessment is thorough and conducted by licensed professionals who are as compassionate as they are knowledgeable. The treatment approach of our facility centers around holistic methods, which are intended to facilitate healing in the mind, body, and spirit; not just in the physical body. To learn more, call us at (833) 801-LIVE to speak with our staff. Don't wait any longer to begin your healing journey.


What to Expect in Individual Therapy for Recovery

What to Expect in Individual Therapy for Recovery

Individual and group therapy are two of the treatment programs offered at Enlightened Recovery, a facility that helps people overcome the effects of substance addiction. Individual therapy, in particular, is one form of treatment provided to every client that walks through our doors, regardless of the additional services they seek. These sessions consist of working with a trained and licensed mental health professional – one who understands the science and nuances of addiction and the role it plays in your unique life and circumstances.

Together, you and your therapist will develop a “plan of action" to deal with triggers or cravings outside of the treatment center in a healthy way.

Common Topics Addressed in Individual Therapy

There are no official “rules” about what is addressed in therapy, especially when using techniques that are client-driven. However, it is common to see the following issues raised during individual therapy sessions:

  • Knowledge about the science and psychology of addiction
  • Recognizing and changing codependent habits
  • Improving interpersonal relationships
  • Addressing mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety, or PTSD, and discussing past traumas that may have influenced addiction
  • Introduction to the 12-Step program

Therapeutic Methods and Models

Individual therapy encompasses a wide range of different techniques and models, depending on whether substance addiction is accompanied by a co-occurring condition, such as depression, anxiety disorder, PTSD, etc.

The following methods and models are used at Enlightened Recovery:

Motivational Interviewing

Motivational interviewing is a therapeutic method that helps people who are perhaps ambivalent or apathetic find the motivation they need to change their lives. Notably, motivational interviewing does recognize that it is incredibly difficult for some people to find the motivation to change long-term negative behaviors, especially if the reason for that lack of motivation is rooted in depression. However, with motivational interviewing, it is possible to overcome this barrier with the right support.

Motivational interviewing is a client-centered approach that helps an individual find the solutions on their own as much as possible, rather than giving unsolicited advice or other “encouragements” that could feel patronizing. The therapist’s role is essentially to come alongside the client to help them see how they can make necessary changes.

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is highly successful and used by many therapists for a variety of issues, including addiction, depression, anxiety, eating disorders, marital problems, and much more. CBT involves redirecting or reframing negative thoughts or behaviors to see changed behaviors and different results. As such, it is highly adaptable to many different issues or ailments.

CBT is guided by core principles, which include:

  • The belief that many psychological issues are based, in part, on negative thinking patterns
  • The belief that many negative circumstances can be changed or avoided by unlearning negative behavior patterns
  • Negative core beliefs about how the self and the world influence negative behaviors (to change behaviors, these negative beliefs must be reframed)
  • People who are struggling mentally can learn healthier coping mechanisms to improve their mental and emotional health

Gestalt Therapy

The word “gestalt” is German and doesn’t have a clear English equivalent. However, it is generally used to mean “whole.” The idea behind this therapeutic technique is to consider the whole person: the body, mind, and emotions, not just the addiction itself. This form of therapy helps clients focus on what is happening in their lives at present, emphasizing the here and now, rather than the past. Gestalt therapy strongly emphasizes the belief that people are influenced and shaped by their present environments.

Rogerian Therapy

Rogerian therapy is an approach that allows the client to direct the course of each session. The therapist may have expert knowledge of psychology and addiction, but the client is the expert on their own life and experiences. By verbally processing the problems, it is common for the client to eventually arrive at their own solution with minimal intervention from the therapist at all.

Solution-Focused Techniques

Change is a natural and expected part of getting sober. In many cases, it requires a complete overhaul of one’s lifestyle habits. Solution-focused techniques are necessary to help clients move closer to achieving their recovery goals. These could be learning healthier coping mechanisms in place of drinking or doing drugs in response to stress. It can also include learning how to eat well and exercise regularly, which plays a vital role in overall wellness.

Individual Therapy with Enlightened Recovery

Every client is matched with a therapist who is both qualified and compatible. We understand that the client/therapist relationship depends on building up a rapport, so it’s paramount that clients feel comfortable disclosing their true feelings and experiences in that space. Whatever additional issues a person struggles with that perhaps fueled or enabled substance abuse, we can find someone who is equipped to understand and guide them.

Therapy appointments are recommended at least once a week, depending on the goals outlined in a client's treatment plan. It’s important for clients to develop a list of goals they want to achieve, both in and out of treatment. A therapist can help each client get started if they struggle to come up with ideas at first.

We believe that having a safe, judgment-free environment is critical for developing the confidence and encouragement needed in order to help clients develop confidence in both themselves and in the future, outside of treatment. No matter how challenging it may seem at first, a healthier life is possible.

Recovering from substance addiction is a hard thing to do on your own. That's why Enlightened Recovery exists: to help people struggling with the abuse of drugs or alcohol get started on the overwhelming process of recovery. Our staff is uniquely equipped to understand the nuances of both addiction and mental health. We understand how both types of conditions often go together, feeding each other in a destructive cycle. If you're struggling with addiction and turn to substances as a form of self-medicating for such things as depression or PTSD, we are here to help. Please reach out to us today at (833) 801-LIVE to learn more about how individual therapy and our other treatment programs can help you. 


5 Ways to Connect With Nature Through Horticulture Therapy

5 Ways to Connect With Nature Through Horticulture Therapy

Most people enjoy getting outside and enjoying the beauty of nature. Aside from being abundantly beautiful, did you also know that it’s good for your health? Nature has intrinsic properties that help restore balance to our souls and peace in our moods. Whether you’re getting outside for a hike, paddling across a lake, or simply admiring a beautiful flower in your yard, you are not just feasting your eyes: you are healing your body and your mind.

This process is a form of horticulture therapy, which encourages healing from all types of maladies, addiction being one of them.

The Health Benefits of Being Out in Nature

Saying “nature heals” isn’t some new-age quackery; it’s legitimately backed by science. Being out in nature has been proven to heal the body and mind in many ways, from relieving depression and anxiety symptoms to lowering blood pressure. Spending roughly half an hour per day outdoors, away from screens and other technological distractions, is enough to improve your health a little bit each day. You can notice an increase in your health and overall mood just by making time outdoors a regular part of your day (just don’t forget to put on sunscreen).

There is also much to be said about exposure to natural light as opposed to synthetic light. These days, most of us get light exposure from artificial means, such as light bulbs and phone or computer screens. These forms of light can be useful but pale in comparison to the benefits of natural sunlight. No form of electricity can replicate the vitamin D that sunlight contains. Exposure to natural light elevates mood, boosts creativity, helps relieve anxiety, and reduces the side effects of seasonal affective disorder (SAD) during the long winter months when days are shortest.

How Nature Affects the Brain

For people affected by substance abuse and depression, serotonin levels in the brain need to increase in order to feel happier. Serotonin is a chemical that regulates mood, and clinical depression happens when your brain doesn’t make enough of it. While prescription antidepressants can help (“store-bought serotonin”), being out in nature is a natural way to enjoy this benefit. Natural beauty increases blood flow in the brain’s amygdala, which is where fear and anxiety are manufactured. Natural scenes, such as mountains, trees, ocean fronts, or flowers, activate the pleasure and empathy centers of the brain. Walking through these scenes, as you are able, decreases activity in the part of the brain that is linked to depressed rumination.

In other words, plants and nature activate the parts of the brain that make you happy. Do you need a better reason to get outdoors?

Horticulture Therapy for Recovery

Horticulture therapy has been used for centuries to treat all kinds of maladies, both physical and mental. It depends on the use of plants, as well as plant-based activities, for healing and rehabilitation. As an official therapeutic practice, Dr. Benjamin Rush is credited with its founding in the early 19th century. As a psychiatrist, Rush noticed how his patients seemed to improve in mental health as they worked with plants, which led him to prescribe them as part of treatment for mental illness.

Horticulture therapy is a highly accessible form of treatment, regardless of gardening experience. Anyone with a variety of physical, mental, social, and other disabilities can find plants to be non-discriminating and welcoming when working in a stable, calm environment. Plants also don’t care about cultural or ethnic differences related to race, religion, sex, or creed, which helps lend to horticulture therapy’s high success rate. When recovering from substance abuse or other traumatic experiences, working with plants can help re-develop core skills for adjusting to the world once again.

Types of Horticulture Therapy

Horticulture therapy is hardly monolithic. It largely depends on the facility and the clients in terms of what it looks like in practice. Fortunately, it is highly adaptable to different treatment centers and therapeutic needs, including but not limited to substance abuse treatment, nursing homes, and even prisons.

There are at least three different types of horticulture therapy that are most commonly used: vocational, therapeutic, and social.

Vocational Horticultural Therapy

Intended to teach skills and behavioral practices for jobs and workplaces, vocational horticulture therapy is useful for people pursuing careers in greenhouses, gardening, landscaping, and plant sales and services. Skills learned in this department include repotting, water usage, and moving plants from one space to another. It relies heavily on basic plant root systems and the environments they need to thrive. While mostly career-based, people also learn how to support themselves mentally as well as financially.

Therapeutic Horticultural Therapy

While all forms of horticulture therapy are beneficial for mental and physical wellness to some degree, therapeutic therapy is explicitly for that purpose. Activities may include repetitive actions such as digging or watering in order to improve motor skills and other physical functions. Making observations about plant growth, starting from seed to full development, helps sharpen mental health. Even the excitement that comes with observing the health of something you nurtured is beneficial to emotional health and establishing confidence.

Social Horticultural Therapy

Focused on plant growth as a form of building a support system, social horticultural therapy seeks to enhance quality of life. Participants will be advised about herbs and spices to both add flavor as well as cure minor maladies. The experience of growing, cultivating, and picking their own herbs helps foster confidence and community.

At Enlightened Solutions, we don't just believe that being out in nature is good for one's health: we know it is! That's why we offer horticulture therapy as part of the treatment plan for our clients. Nothing quite heals the mind and body like natural light, fresh air, and the beautiful sights of the outdoors. Our treatment programs include teaching clients how to nurture themselves by nurturing living things, taking the focus away from the self. If you're struggling with substance addiction and want to learn more about the programs we offer, please call us today at (833) 801-LIVE. Our programs are individualized and tailored to meet your unique needs. 


Benefits of DBT for Co-occurring Disorders

Benefits of DBT for Co-occurring Disorders

DBT stands for dialectical behavior therapy, a technique used to treat many mental health disorders. Initially, it was created to aid those with suicidal ideation. Developed by Dr. Marsha M. Linehan, DBT was created to address and encourage two things: change and acceptance.

DBT has since been used to treat other disorders such as borderline personality disorder, anxiety, depression, and more. DBT has proven to also be useful in treating co-occurring disorders. As described by Linda A. Dimeff and Marsha M. Linehan, in their article “Dialectical Behavior Therapy for Substance Abusers,” which appears in the Addiction Science and Clinical Practice journal, “When DBT is successful, the patient learns to envision, articulate, pursue, and sustain goals that are independent of his or her history of out-of-control behavior, including substance abuse, and is better able to grapple with life’s ordinary problems.”

The use of DBT for those with substance use disorder (SUD) and co-occurring disorders continues to grow. The principles of acceptance and change presented in DBT are consistent with the emphasis on both throughout the 12-Step process. This correlation allows recipients to relate therapy to their learnings in 12-Step groups and apply similar strategies throughout treatment. At Enlightened Solutions, we incorporate both the Twelve Steps and DBT into our treatment programs.

It is important to recognize that DBT is a comprehensive treatment approach rather than a single treatment strategy. Every client is different, having different needs and circumstances that may require some adaptation and special attention. Because DBT can be used to treat various disorders, settings and specifics surrounding treatment can vary.

Functions of DBT

Despite any variations or adaptations, DBT provided for SUD or co-occurring disorders should always address five specific functions. As discussed by Alexander L. Chapman in his 2006 Psychiatry journal article, these five functions of DBT include:

  • Enhancing capabilities
  • Generalizing capabilities
  • Improving motivation and reducing dysfunctional behaviors
  • Enhancing and maintaining therapist capabilities and motivation
  • Structuring the environment

#1. Enhancing Capabilities

Typically, those receiving DBT are in need of developing skills in a few key areas. These areas include interpersonal skills, emotional regulation, mindfulness, and tolerance. It is important for those with co-occurring disorders to enhance these abilities in order to succeed in recovery.

Many times, these skills are addressed through group therapy. This allows for discussion and practicing of these skills with others working on similar goals. Additionally, therapists may assign homework to encourage practicing the skills between group sessions.

#2. Generalizing Capabilities

This function refers to the transferability of the skills learned to the lives of those receiving therapy. Individual sessions are offered to individualize strategies and offer guidance regarding ways to integrate these new skills into daily life. Homework assignments provide opportunities to practice skills such as emotional regulation and mindfulness in real-life situations.

#3. Improving Motivation and Reducing Dysfunctional Behaviors

This function involves self-assessment of behaviors and tracking patterns between individual therapy sessions. This allows the therapist to identify persisting issues and prioritize the behaviors according to risk and consequence. The therapist will determine why the behaviors are occurring and will work to develop strategies for change.

#4. Enhancing and Maintaining Therapist Capabilities and Motivation

It is important for DBT providers to remain focused, compassionate, non-judgmental, and supportive of their clients. This function involves consistent collaboration among therapists to promote problem-solving and offer encouragement. Treating those with co-occurring disorders can be delicate; thus, therapists must be able to navigate difficult and sensitive situations.

#5. Structuring the Environment

For those with co-occurring disorders, it can be common to have people or places that may be triggering. It is important to ensure the environment created is free of triggers and is supportive of the goals of the individual. Therapists may encourage a change in social circles or modifications of certain environments to encourage success.

DBT in Treatment

As mentioned, DBT focuses on change in behavior and acceptance simultaneously. It is important for therapy recipients to work to change behavior patterns that resulted in their addiction while also accepting the things that they cannot change.

DBT offers opportunities for skill development essential for coping with your diagnosis while successfully navigating treatment and recovery. By developing skills such as emotional regulation, distress tolerance, interpersonal efficacy, and mindfulness, you can better cope with your current situation and come prepared to handle obstacles you may face in the future.

DBT techniques can be incorporated into all aspects of treatment and are most effective when this is the case. Co-occurring disorders can determine how you may experience, respond to, and understand substance abuse. The adaptability and generalization of skills associated with this treatment method make it beneficial for those with substance abuse disorders and mental health diagnoses. DBT can help you heal and learn to cope with what lies ahead in recovery.

Substance use disorder often co-occurs with other mental health conditions such as anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, etc.  While it was created to be a treatment for people with suicidal ideation, DBT, or dialectical behavior therapy, is now often used by treatment facilities to address substance abuse and co-occurring disorders. DBT is a method or program designed to evoke change and promote acceptance. Enlightened Solutions incorporates DBT in every aspect of treatment. The skills developed through DBT help with developing positive relationships, coping with conflict, emotional regulation, mindfulness, and being present. At Enlightened Solutions, we conduct a thorough assessment at intake to determine if you have a co-occurring disorder. This allows us to formulate a personalized treatment plan to address your specific needs. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse and could benefit from treatment, give Enlightened Solutions a call today at (833) 801-LIVE.


What Are the Benefits of Co-ed Group Therapy in Addiction Treatment?

What Are the Benefits of Co-ed Group Therapy in Addiction Treatment?

In 1990, the book Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus reached the forefront of society and changed our perspectives on gender. Suddenly, we focused on the differences between men and women instead of focusing on how different genders complement one another. While the experience of men differs from that of women, one can accept the fact that struggle is a part of life, and for some, both men and women, that struggle includes addiction to alcohol or other substances.

Addiction does not discriminate between genders. Men and women are both at risk of developing dysfunctional behaviors. Having specialized gender-based group therapies is critical to the growth of the individual and to one’s recovery from mental health conditions. However, having a mixed-gender group might enable participants to better understand themselves and communicate more effectively with all persons in their lives as well as develop more effective and varied coping strategies.

While many facilities focus on providing specific gender resources in treatment, at Enlightened Solutions, we offer a unique treatment program that is co-ed. Our program enables individuals to enhance their communication skills in varied circumstances and safely discuss the effects of their addictive behaviors with others.

Co-ed Groups Facilitate Communication

Different genders have different methods of communicating. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) suggests that women often defer to men in conversations, limiting their own interactions and focusing more on the needs of the other gender. Therefore, gender-specific groups can be helpful to women and men separately but do not always help individuals in communicating beyond treatment.

By combining men and women in one co-ed group and providing proper staff facilitation, women and men can learn how to communicate more effectively with other genders and improve their possibility of success in recovery. Another benefit of co-ed groups is related to the differences in one’s capacity to connect to their own gender. Some men are better able to communicate with women, and some women feel more compatible with men as friends than they do with other women. While having single-sex groups is important to facilitate growth, co-ed groups provide different opportunities for growth for all participants.

Men and Women May Cope Differently

There are two different coping patterns: problem-focused and emotion-focused. In an article on sex differences in coping strategies, researchers explain that men are more likely to use problem-focused coping strategies, whereas women are more prone to using emotion-focused coping strategies. With both strategies, one attempts to alleviate distress, but the efficacy of the strategy varies between persons and processes dependent upon the stressor.

The article further explains that women are more prone to apologizing for their behaviors and susceptible to depression and anxiety-related disorders as opposed to their male counterparts. Men are less likely to focus on emotional response, thereby limiting their ability to communicate their feelings and understand the emotions of others.

A benefit of co-ed group therapy is the meshing of coping strategies. Men can learn how to cope with their emotions in a more sustainable manner, and women can more effectively learn problem-focused coping skills. With the combination of genders, there is more opportunity for growth and development of a balanced outlook on life and recovery using different coping skills.

Benefits of Co-ed Groups for Life After Treatment

Life after treatment involves reintegration into your family, friend, work, and community life. In traditional single-gender treatment settings, there may be a sense of culture shock as you rejoin the world after treatment. Co-ed treatment, on the other hand, can help ameliorate the risk of culture shock by integrating all genders in treatment and providing you with comprehensive care aimed at helping you succeed in recovery both in and after treatment.

Not only will you be better prepared for life in the real world after treatment with co-ed groups, but you will also be better equipped to communicate with your romantic partner and other family members of another gender. You will have a better comprehension of the differences in communication styles and emotional responses between genders. You will be able to recognize fallacies in your own thinking as you engage with others. You will also be better prepared to help others recognize your needs without the manipulation of others’ coping strategies.

A final benefit of co-ed groups is learning and developing boundaries between yourself and other genders. While in active addiction, you may have forgotten communication styles and how to best support yourself without infringing on the boundaries of others in your life. Your partners and family members have also experienced your addictions. As you navigate co-ed treatment, you will learn the benefits of boundaries between genders and develop an understanding of others’ limitations, which will significantly impact your relationships with others as you reintegrate into your life after treatment. Recovery is possible, but communication, positive coping skills, and definitive boundaries are necessary for your success.

Men and women communicate and cope with stressors differently, which is why co-ed therapy can be so educational and beneficial. At Enlightened Solutions, we recognize the value of incorporating co-ed groups in our treatment. We know that all genders can teach others different methods of responding to problems, better enabling you to achieve success in recovery. We know you have the power to overcome addiction. We believe open communication in co-ed groups will help you succeed in recovery after you leave treatment. If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, you need not feel alone in your struggle any longer. At Enlightened Solutions, we offer a variety of programs from inpatient to outpatient, and we want to ensure your success in recovery. We know you have the power to change and we want to help you. Call us at (833) 801-LIVE and ask how we can help.


Benefits of Group Therapy

What Is Group Therapy?

Group therapy is an effective treatment approach for Substance Use Disorder (SUD). It supports individual therapy and medication in a multi-pronged approach to addiction recovery(1). The idea of group therapy can be daunting for many, as people often fear opening up and becoming vulnerable in front of others. These fears usually subside after beginning group work.

Johan Hari says the ‘opposite of addiction is connection.’ Addiction can be a very isolating experience. When we participate in group therapy, we learn to connect and empathize with others. Ultimately, this leads to greater self-compassion and growth, which are two key factors for long-term recovery.

A trained mental health professional leads group therapy sessions. Clients get the chance to share their stories, thoughts, and experiences, and listen to others in the group share similar experiences. This cultivates a sense of understanding and compassion in the room.

Addiction impacts our mental and physical health. It also affects our well-being(2). It is common for those struggling with addiction to feel guilt and low self-worth. Many live with an internal voice that criticizes their life and choices, and the internal chatter, thoughts, and beliefs that come with addiction can be exhausting. 

In group therapy, clients learn that many others also experience these self-criticisms. Groups help us understand that such negative thoughts result from:

  • Addiction
  • Unresolved trauma
  • Other mental health issues

We learn that these thoughts are not a reflection of our worth or validity as a person. 

What Are the Benefits of Group Therapy?

Group therapy is a cornerstone of addiction and mental health treatment. It increases self-awareness and promotes positive therapeutic outcomes. Group therapies for SUD target specific substances. Others in your group will also be in recovery from a given substance, and members may be at different stages of their recovery journey. 

Common benefits of group therapy for SUD include:

  • Compassionate support and encouragement
  • Perspective on one's experience
  • Improved behavioral health
  • Improved communication skills
  • Reduced sense of isolation and loneliness
  • Connection to others

According to SAMHSA, 'the lives of individuals are shaped, for better or worse, by their experiences in groups. People are born into groups. Throughout life, they join groups. They will influence and be influenced by family, religious, social, and cultural groups that constantly shape behavior, self‐image, and both physical and mental health.'(3)

As such, group work is a powerful healing tool. Through connection with and understanding of others, clients in group therapy get the chance to shift their perspective on their circumstances. One of the principles of group work is fostering a greater connection to ourselves and others.

What Types of Group Therapy Are Available?

Treatment providers use various group-based treatment models to help clients achieve lasting recovery. Groups usually consist of members who share treatment needs, and common types of groups used in addiction recovery programs include:

Psychoeducational Groups

Clients learn about the nature of addiction and mental health issues. Psychoeducation (PE) groups cover addiction, medication, mental health conditions, and lifestyle. Topics covered in PE encourage self-exploration, and clients explore how topics relate to their own circumstances.

Support Groups

Support groups provide peer support and a sense of accountability in clients. They encourage resilience and maintenance of sobriety. 

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

This group helps clients recognize limiting patterns of thoughts and beliefs. Clients in this group learn to:

  • Develop practical problem-solving skills
  • Set realistic goals
  • Identify maladaptive behaviors and emotions

Skill-building groups

Skill-building and development groups teach clients about relapse prevention and self-management. In this group, clients learn how to set healthy boundaries. They learn how to manage difficult emotions, how to relax, and how to cope with triggers and stress. 

Interpersonal Process Groups

Interpersonal process groups focus on clients issues and offer effective solutions. A client discusses an issue and works with group members to find solutions. Interpersonal groups offer the chance to practice communication and problem-solving. Clients then apply these skills to their relationships outside treatment.

Each of the above group models has benefits for clients struggling with SUD. A trauma-informed, expert-trained group leader facilitates a powerful therapeutic experience for each group. The type of group offered to a client must suit their treatment needs. 

At Enlightened Solutions, we offer our clients tools to use as they move forward in their sober lifestyle.  We focus on healing the whole person rather than merely treating the addiction. Enlightened Solutions is a licensed co-occurring treatment center, meaning that we can treat both substance use disorders and the mental health issues that frequently accompany addiction.  Our treatment program rooted in the 12-Step philosophy offers each client an individualized recovery plan. At Enlightened Solutions, we offer a range of treatment modalities, including cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), family constellation therapy, art and music therapy, yoga and meditation, acupuncture and chiropractic work, and equine-assisted therapy.  Our location near the southern shore of New Jersey allows us to provide optimal healing and relaxation. If you struggle with addiction, or if someone close to you does, please call us at (833) 801-5483 for more information about our treatment options.

 

(1) Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. Substance Abuse Treatment: Group Therapy. Rockville (MD): Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (US); 2005. (Treatment Improvement Protocol (TIP) Series, No. 41.) 1 Groups and Substance Abuse Treatment. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK64223/

(2) Lanier, C A et al. “Drug use and mental well being among a sample of undergraduate and graduate college students.” Journal of drug education vol. 31,3 (2001): 239-48. doi:10.2190/R7T3-T266-JN9E-UX3W

(3) Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. Substance Abuse Treatment: Group Therapy. Rockville (MD): Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (US); 2005. (Treatment Improvement Protocol (TIP) Series, No. 41.) 1 Groups and Substance Abuse Treatment. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK64223/


Guilt and shame

The Role of Guilt and Shame in Addiction

It happened again. You said you wouldn’t drink too much at the family gathering, but you did. As you start to sober up, you see the hurt and disappointment in your spouse’s eyes. You hate hurting people you love, but you can’t seem to stop your behavior. You feel guilty about your behavior and ashamed of who you are. The feelings of guilt and shame are so painful that you drink again to stop the emotional pain, which causes you to feel guilt and shame. The cycle starts again.

What are Guilt and Shame? Where Do They Come From?

Although many people use the terms “guilt” and “shame” interchangeably, they are not quite the same emotion. According to Joseph Burgo, Ph.D., writing in Psychology Today, guilt is “a feeling of responsibility or remorse for some offense, crime, wrong, etc….” Guilt relates to others. Shame, on the other hand, relates to the self and how we feel about ourselves. Shame is the feeling that something is fundamentally wrong with us, that we are damaged or flawed.

According to information published by the National Institute for the Clinical Application of Behavioral Medicine (NICABM), feelings of guilt develop in children between the ages of three and six years of age. Feelings of shame can develop in children as young as 15 months. Guilt stems from the knowledge that we have done something objectively wrong. Shame stems from the feeling that we are inherently damaged. Shame may arise in early childhood when our negative emotions are denied. Some caregivers don’t allow children to have negative emotions, perhaps because the caregivers were never taught how to handle negative emotions themselves. At any rate, when we are children we learn that these negative feelings are unacceptable. So we suppress these feelings and may begin to use addictive behaviors to cover up the emotional pain.

Results of Guilt and Shame

Shame can cause us to fear rejection, which in turn can cause us to avoid people. Shame can also lead to mental health problems, including depression and substance abuse. Many people who struggle with an addiction, be it to drugs, alcohol, gambling, turn to addictive behavior because of their fundamental shame, and then develop shame because of the addiction and guilt over the behaviors caused by the addiction. Shame has also been linked to violence, aggression, bullying, depression, and eating disorders. Shame can also lead to relapse in recovery, which leads to more shame over the relapse. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 40% to 60% of people will relapse in the first year following treatment.

Guilt, however, can lead to positive change. Guilt can lead us to make an effort to atone for the hurt that we have caused other people or to fix the problem that we have created. We can learn to change the destructive behavior that caused the problem and can reconnect us to people in our lives.

How To Conquer Shame 

Shame is a very self-destructive and soul-destroying emotion and can keep us trapped in our addictions. Fortunately, shame can be overcome. A recent article in Psychology Today had several techniques to help overcome shame. When you are experiencing strong, negative emotions, spend some time to sort out what you are feeling. Is it guilt? Shame? Remember, shame is a way you feel about yourself, the feeling that you are inherently flawed. Guilt is feeling bad because your behavior had a negative impact on someone or a situation. Make sure that what you are feeling isn’t unhealthy guilt, which has been described as feeling guilty because you failed to live up to an unrealistic ideal. When you have sorted out what you are feeling, then you can choose an appropriate response.

1. Separate yourself from what you do

 You have value as a human being on this planet apart from your work or your economic status. Learn to recognize what triggers your feelings of shame, which are usually centered around your emotional vulnerabilities. For example, if you have children, you may feel shame when your parenting abilities are called into question.

2. Connect with people

When you are feeling ashamed, don’t go it alone. Seek help from a sponsor, therapist, support group, family members, friends, or the idea of a higher power. Although it may seem like it, you are not alone in this struggle.

3. Think of your road to recovery like that of an athlete in training

 If a champion athlete loses a game, they are likely to be very disappointed but will be back in practice the next day. Likewise, if you have a relapse, view it as a setback rather than a failure, and get right back into your program.

4. Treat yourself with compassion

As you would to a friend who was suffering. Lastly and perhaps most important, forgive yourself.

Shame is a powerful force that can trap people in addictive behaviors. For an addiction treatment program to be successful, a recovery plan needs to be developed to meet the needs of the whole person, not just the addictive behavior. The underlying guilt and shame and other underlying issues need to be addressed as well. At Enlightened Solutions, located near New Jersey’s southern shore, we offer a wide range of healing options and a custom treatment plan for each client. We offer group and individual talk therapy within the framework of the 12-Step philosophy. In addition, we offer a variety of holistic treatment modalities including yoga, acupuncture, chiropractic, art and music therapy, sound therapy, equine therapy, and horticultural therapy. If you or a loved one is struggling with an addiction and looking for a treatment facility that will address the needs of the whole person, call (833) 801-5483.

 


Psychotherapy

Eight Common Misconceptions About Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy will be part of the equation for many people trying to overcome a substance use issue. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, more than half of people with substance use disorders have a co-occurring mental health issue. [https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/common-comorbidities-substance-use-disorders/part-1-connection-between-substance-use-disorders-mental-illness] These commonly include anxiety disorders, major depression, ADHD, PTSD, personality disorders, bipolar disorder, and psychotic disorders. These are often the driving force behind addiction and therefore need to be addressed for recovery to last.

For people without co-occurring disorders, therapy can be a way to help deal with trauma and shame as well as learning strategies for regulating behavior. Unfortunately, there are many myths and misconceptions about psychotherapy and these may make some people reluctant to seek help. The following are some of the more common misconceptions about therapy.

“Going to therapy means you’re weak.”

This one seems like it should be outdated by now, but unfortunately, it’s not. There’s still a stigma attached to mental health issues. People don’t want to be seen as weak or unreliable, and they’re afraid that going to therapy is like admitting they aren’t in control of their lives. This is especially true of men, who are less likely than women to seek therapy. In reality, mental health problems, like physical health problems, are just something that happens. We all understand that having the flu isn’t a character flaw; it’s just your body’s way of fighting a virus. Seeking therapy for a mental health issue shows that you are willing to take responsibility for yourself, which is the opposite of weakness.

“Therapy is just paying someone to be your friend.”

You often hear that going to therapy is just like paying someone to be your friend. Of course you’re going to feel better when, for perhaps the first time in your life, someone gives you their undivided attention for 50 minutes and seems interested in what you have to say. While that sense of validation is important, there’s more to therapy than just a gab session. A friend is not likely to bring years of psychological training and experience to bear on your conversations. A friend is not likely to have helped many people cope with similar problems or know how to help you overcome distorted thinking. What’s more, you don’t really want your therapist to be your friend. You want to get along and feel comfortable talking to them, but it’s also important to respect the therapeutic relationship.

“Therapy is all just common sense.”

A lot of what your therapist tells you may sound obvious after you hear it, but then you have to ask yourself, “If it’s so obvious, why didn’t I think of it myself?” As with any riddle, the solution is obvious once you know it. It’s often hardest to understand your own problems. We all have biases and blind spots, and even after we overcome those, we have defenses that prevent us from seeing the truth about ourselves. A therapist’s skill lies not only in understanding your problems, but also in helping you understand—and accept—your problems. And, of course, once you’ve reached that point, you have to know what you can do to solve your problems. Your therapist won’t do this for you or tell you what to do, but they will help you discover a solution.

“Therapy goes on forever.”

A lot of people imagine that once they enter therapy, they’ll be in therapy for the rest of their lives. They may be thinking of the old stereotype of psychoanalysis, where you come in every day for years and talk about your childhood, your dreams, look at inkblots, and so on. While there are still practicing psychoanalysts, most therapists today have more of a cognitive-behavioral focus. Instead of going over your whole life in minute detail, you identify the problem you want to solve and you work on changing your thoughts and behaviors to help solve it. With this approach, people typically notice improvements in as little as a few weeks, but, of course, this varies considerably depending on your issues.

“Therapy is too expensive.”

Therapy is too often seen as a luxury and it’s certainly true that mental health care is not as accessible as it should be. However, it may be more accessible than you think. Insurance often pays for therapy up to a certain amount each year and many therapists work on a sliding scale. Before you assume you can’t afford therapy, talk to a few therapists and see if they will work with you on the price.

“Therapy is all about placing blame.”

A lot of people assume therapy is about placing blame, often on parents or a spouse. Understandably, this makes some parents and spouses resist their loved ones getting much needed treatment. However, therapy is not typically about placing blame but rather understanding dynamics. It’s true that dysfunctional relationships contribute to problems, but it’s also true that labeling one person as “the problem” doesn’t do much to improve the situation.

“All you really need is medication.”

For a long time, there was this belief that mental health issues were all about chemical imbalances in the brain. That is probably true to some extent, but the idea that you can fix mental health issues with medication alone has been largely discredited. Medication may still be part of treatment, but these days, therapists are taking a much broader view of mental health that includes thinking, behavior, relationships, and healthy lifestyles.

“Talking about your problems only makes them worse.”

Another common misconception about therapy is that by spending a lot of time talking about your problems, you’re only reinforcing them in your mind and embracing a narrative of victimization. While this might be true in some situations, it largely misunderstands how therapy works. It’s true that in the old psychoanalytic view, the client would talk and talk and when they finally uncovered the root of the problem, they would be cured. Today, therapy is typically more focused on specific problems and the thoughts and behaviors that might lead to a solution. So in a cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT session, you might describe a problem you’re having, but then your therapist may draw your attention to an underlying assumption that could be untrue. In this kind of approach, you are talking about your problems, but always in a way that challenges or reframes them.

It’s important to realize that most people’s objections to therapy are really just rationalizations for avoiding it. They are afraid of going for a variety of reasons, so they latch onto these rational-sounding excuses. It’s normal to be apprehensive about facing your demons. Therapy isn’t always easy, but it has improved a lot of lives. The only way to know if it will help you is to try it with an open mind. At Enlightened Solutions, we use evidence-based therapeutic techniques to help our clients overcome substance use issues. To learn more about our treatment programs, call us today at 833-801-LIVE or explore our website.


managing anxiety

7 Tips for Managing Anxiety in Addiction Recovery

Anxiety disorders are the most common class of mental health issues. About 30 percent of Americans will have issues with anxiety at some point in their lives. What’s more, anxiety significantly increases your risk of developing a substance use disorder. The National Epidemiological Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions interviewed more than 43,000 people and found that among people who had struggled with anxiety in the past year, 15 percent met the criteria for having a substance use disorder—about twice the prevalence in the general population. Part of a strong recovery from addiction entails making healthy lifestyle changes to manage anxiety overall and learning to cope with individual episodes. Here are some suggestions for managing anxiety in addiction recovery.

 

See a Therapist

First, if you have issues with anxiety and you haven’t seen a therapist, see one as soon as possible. An anxiety disorder is a serious mental health issue, sometimes with a biological basis, and you should take it seriously. It’s not just a matter of telling yourself to calm down; there are other issues driving your anxiety. A therapist can help you work through it, perhaps with the help of medication.

 

Breathe deeply.

Deep breathing is one of the most effective tools there is for calming anxiety. When you’re anxious, your body’s sympathetic nervous system, the fight-or-flight system, is in control. You feel threatened—perhaps by something that’s not really threatening or perhaps by nothing at all—and your body prepares to deal with that threat. But since anxiety can feed on itself, the sympathetic nervous system never backs off. To do that, you have to intentionally activate your parasympathetic nervous system, otherwise known as your rest-and-digest system. 

 

You can activate your parasympathetic nervous system by taking a few slow, deep breaths. The exhale is especially important, since this is what stimulates the vagus nerve and helps you calm down. When you feel stressed, panicked, or overwhelmed, take a few deep breaths. A common pattern is to inhale for a count of four, hold for a count of seven, exhale for a count of eight, and repeat. Five or 10 breaths should help you calm down and think more clearly.

 

Examine Your Thinking

Most anxiety comes not from any particular situation but from your thinking about the situation. Sometimes the brain can conjure up anxiety from nothing at all. When you’re anxious, it helps to notice what thoughts are causing the anxiety. Cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, has identified a number of common cognitive distortions that cause mental distress. These include black-and-white thinking, catastrophizing, discounting the positive, and others. You typically learn about these distortions and how to combat them as part of addiction treatment or individual therapy. Learning to spot these distortions takes a bit of practice and guidance but will significantly cut down on your anxiety once you get the hang of it.

 

Get Enough Sleep

Getting enough quality sleep is one of the best things you can do for your mental and physical health. Inadequate sleep has been linked to a number of mental health issues, including depression and anxiety. When you are sleep deprived, or when you run a chronic sleep deficit, you significantly impair several important cognitive functions, including attention, working memory, foresight, and prioritization. Perhaps the biggest problem for anxiety is that lack of sleep also impairs emotional regulation. There is an area of the prefrontal cortex that essentially acts as a brake on anxiety and when you don’t get enough sleep, that brake doesn’t work very well. Getting enough sleep makes everything in life easier.

 

Exercise

After getting enough sleep, regular exercise is the second biggest lifestyle change you can make to manage anxiety. Many scientific studies now support exercise’s many mental health benefits, including reducing anxiety. Exercise does a number of things, including increasing the brain’s levels of endorphins, serotonin, and brain-derived neurotrophic factor, which helps grow neurons in certain areas of the brain. It is also thought that exercise affects the brain’s hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal, or HPA, axis, which reduces your reactivity to stress.  

 

Practice Mindfulness

Mindfulness meditation is one of the best ways to learn to manage your anxiety. Most people reflexively try to push anxiety away, ignore it, or stifle it, but these only make it worse. Mindfulness teaches you to accept anxiety and not compound it by being anxious about it. Instead, you observe your anxiety without judgment, noticing where it comes from, what thoughts arise with it, where you feel it in your body and so on. You gradually learn that anxiety is nothing to be afraid of. 

 

Reduce Your Caffeine Intake

For most people recovering from addiction, moderate caffeine intake is not a big deal. If that caffeine is in the form of tea or coffee rather than sugary energy drinks, it may even have some moderate benefits. However, if you are prone to anxiety, caffeine may raise your baseline of stress. Caffeine’s effects are similar to those of anxiety—faster heart rate, increased energy and focus, and so on. It can make you more sensitive to stress or even trigger an anxiety feedback loop. Perhaps more importantly, caffeine can interfere with sleep. Even a cup of coffee at noon may leave quite a bit of caffeine in your system at bedtime. It can either keep you up or prevent you from sleeping deeply. This is especially problematic since many people already experience insomnia early in recovery. And as noted above, a chronic sleep deficit can significantly increase your anxiety.

 

Anxiety isn’t just a matter of being on edge or tightly wound. You can’t “just relax.” It’s a real mental health issue that typically requires professional help. You normally get treatment for co-occurring conditions, such as anxiety, when you enter an addiction treatment program, but not if you only attend mutual-aid meetings like AA. However, an untreated anxiety disorder can make recovery far more difficult, since it’s often the anxiety that caused the substance use issue in the first place. 

 

At Enlightened Solutions, we know that recovering from addiction requires healing the whole person. Our holistic treatment program incorporates modern treatment methods, wellness practices, and modalities such as yoga and meditation to help our clients overcome addiction. To learn more, call us today at 833-801-LIVE.


Why People Avoid Mental Health Treatment

Why People Avoid Mental Health Treatment

You may know that you need treatment for your mental illness, but perhaps you are too scared to do anything about it. You do not know what to expect and are worried that it will not work. However, seeking treatment for your mental health can help you be in more control and feeling better.

Facing Scary Feelings

Therapy is very hard because it involves exposing your deep, dark feelings that you have not revealed to anyone. You are trusting a stranger with your intense feelings, in hopes that they will help repair you mentally. Therapy involves digging deep into your past and present and exposing who you really are. You may be afraid that you do not like what you discover. It is important to be aware that a therapeutic atmosphere is a safe place where you can feel comfortable to express anything. You will have a professional by your side the whole time. 

Questioning the Length of Therapy

It is important to know that fixing your mental health is not something that will happen overnight. It can take months or years to finally feel better. According to the American Psychological Association, 50% of patients require 15-20 sessions which are about three months if you go weekly. By missing your sessions, you are only making your treatment much longer than it needs to be. If you do not put in the time and effort, you are not going to get better. Every minute that you wasted could have gone into speaking to a therapist about how to help you. By making it a routine to go to therapy, you will see that the months you need to be in treatment will fly quickly.

Feeling Shame

You could be afraid that someone will see you walking into a therapist’s office or a neighbor constantly asking you where you go every week. Especially if you are currently unemployed. You may not want to lie when someone asks, but you are also afraid of the judgment you will face if you tell someone you have a mental illness. You need to remember that you are not alone. According to a Barna study, 42% of Americans have been to therapy at least one point in their life. The people curious where you are going could be in therapy for themselves as well. Also, if you had to go to the doctor for a physical medical issue, that would not be something that you would be quick to hide. The same goes for having a mental illness. It should not be something that you are ashamed of. 

Using Your Friend’s Experience to Match Yours

Everyone’s experience in therapy is different. Your friend may have told you that they had a terrible therapy experience and that based on that one experience, therapy is not helpful. The experiences that our friends have dealt with are not universal. The Barna study said that 47% of people have had a positive experience in therapy and 39% had a somewhat positive experience. Only six percent had a negative experience. It could be possible that your friend did not see a good therapist or that the therapist was not fit for your friend’s needs. Focus on the long-term benefits of therapy and give it a chance as you have the opportunity to have a more positive experience.

Therapy Associated with the Crazy Label

You may feel like you do not need therapy because therapy is for “crazy people.” You may think that your symptoms are not that bad because you get irritable sometimes or get sad sometimes. It is all about how you handle your anger and sadness. If you have huge fits of rage or hide in your room whenever you feel sad, you are not expressing your emotions in a healthy way. You could think that therapists have bigger problems to fix than the ones you have. Any problems that you have, though, are important as small problems can become bigger problems later if you do not do anything about them. 

Money

It can be expensive to go to therapy. But, there is such a thing as affordable treatment. There are therapists that offer service based on a sliding scale or there are community mental health centers that offer therapy at little to no cost. Also, remember that money should not be considered as what stops you from seeking help as if you sprained your ankle, you would see a doctor to fix it no matter what. The same emergence should be said for your mental health as not seeking help can lead to panic attacks or suicidal thoughts if you let the symptoms worsen.

Encouragement for Mental Health Treatment

More needs to be done to let others know how normal it is to be in treatment for your mental health. This can mean writing down the statistics of those who are struggling with the same mental illness you have or how many people in the country go to treatment. Government officials need to talk more about their mental health and encourage treatment. The responsibility should also fall on your local doctor’s offices to have pamphlets of information where to go for treatment as well as transportation options. By speaking comfortable about mental illness and being honest about your symptoms, you should be confident enough to pick up the phone and schedule your first therapy appointment. 

Located on the shore of Southern New Jersey, Enlightened Solutions is a recovery center that uses evidence-based therapies and holistic healing to treat addiction and mental illness. With the opportunity to learn about therapies that are keyed in to healing the human spirit and learning about new stress-reducing techniques centered around a 12-Step network, you will ensure a lasting recovery. For more information, please call us at 833-801-LIVE as we are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.