Psychotherapy in Treating Addiction

The Role of Psychotherapy in Treating Addiction

Learn more about the benefits of comprehensive psychotherapy in treating addiction at Mile High Recovery Center.

Empowering Sustainable Recovery

Mile High Recovery Center (MHRC) in Denver, Colorado, stands firm in our commitment to providing comprehensive and compassionate treatment for people struggling with addiction and co-occurring mental health disorders.

We understand that addiction is a complex disease that impacts the whole person – mind, body, and spirit. That’s why MHRC goes beyond just treating symptoms; we focus on healing the underlying causes of addiction and building a strong foundation for long-term recovery.

This article delves deeper into the role of psychotherapy in treating addiction at MHRC and how we empower people to build a lasting recovery.

Psychotherapy in Treating Addiction

Understanding Psychotherapy in Treating Addiction

Psychotherapy, often referred to as talk therapy, is a powerful tool used in addiction treatment. It provides a safe and supportive space for people to explore the underlying psychological, emotional, and behavioral factors that contribute to their substance use.1
During therapy sessions, a licensed therapist guides clients through a process of self-discovery. This may involve:
  1. Identifying triggers and cravings associated with substance use
  2. Exploring past traumas or negative experiences that may have fueled addiction
  3. Learning healthy coping mechanisms to manage stress and difficult emotions
  4. Developing strong communication skills for building healthy relationships

Research has shown that psychotherapy is highly effective in addiction treatment. About 75% of people who take part in talk therapy show some benefit from it.2

Psychotherapy in Treating Addiction: Talk Therapy Techniques

At Mile High Recovery Center, we utilize a variety of psychotherapeutic approaches tailored to meet the unique needs of each client.
Some of our primary methods of psychotherapy in treating addiction include:

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

CBT helps people identify and challenge negative thought patterns that contribute to substance use. By developing healthier coping mechanisms, clients learn to manage cravings and make positive behavioral changes.3

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)

DBT equips people with valuable skills to:4
  • Manage difficult emotions
  • Improve communication
  • Build healthy relationships
This approach is particularly helpful for those struggling with borderline personality disorder or co-occurring mental health challenges.

Psychodynamic Therapy

This type of therapy explores the unconscious mind and how past experiences may be influencing current behaviors. By gaining insight into underlying conflicts, clients can develop a healthier sense of self and make positive choices.

Other Evidence-Based Approaches

MHRC may also utilize other forms of psychotherapy in treating addiction depending on individual needs. These include:

Application of Psychotherapy in Treating Addiction at MHRC

Below is an exploration of the role of psychotherapy in treating addiction at Mile High Recovery Center:

Comprehensive Assessment

Our treatment begins with a thorough assessment that evaluates a client’s:
  • Addiction history
  • Mental health
  • Overall well-being
This assessment helps us identify the specific factors contributing to their addiction and determine the most suitable therapeutic approach.

Individualized Treatment Plans

Based on the assessment, our team of qualified therapists works with each client to develop a personalized treatment plan. This plan is tailored to address the client’s unique needs and goals.

Holistic Therapies

In addition to traditional psychotherapy, we incorporate holistic therapies such as:
  • Mindfulness
  • Meditation
  • Art therapy
These therapies complement psychotherapeutic techniques by promoting overall well-being and helping clients connect with their inner selves.

Continuum of Care

From residential treatment to outpatient programs and sober living, psychotherapy in treating addiction is consistently integrated into all levels of care. This ensures continuity and sustained support throughout the recovery process.

Techniques for Lasting Change

Through psychotherapy in treating addiction at MHRC, clients gain valuable tools and techniques to address the underlying issues that fuel addiction. Here are some key areas of focus:
  • Addressing maladaptive thought patterns: Therapists help clients identify and challenge negative thought patterns and replace these patterns with more realistic and empowering beliefs.
  • Managing emotional dysregulation: Addiction often stems from difficulty managing emotions. Psychotherapy provides healthy coping mechanisms for stress, anxiety, and anger, using techniques like mindfulness and meditation.
  • Healing underlying trauma: Psychotherapy can provide a safe space to process past traumas that contribute to substance use. Techniques like EMDR or trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy (TF-CBT) can be used to address these issues.

Psychotherapy in Treating Addiction Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

One of the most effective evidence-based psychotherapeutic approaches utilized at Mile High Recovery Center is cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT).
CBT is a powerful tool that equips people with the ability to identify and challenge negative thought patterns and beliefs that contribute to their addiction.
By replacing these unhealthy thought patterns with more realistic and empowering ones, CBT empowers people to develop healthier coping mechanisms and build a strong foundation for long-term recovery.

Unmasking Negative Thought Patterns Through Psychotherapy in Treating Addiction

CBT works on the principle that our thoughts, emotions, and behaviors are interconnected. Negative thoughts and beliefs can fuel cravings and trigger relapse.
Through CBT, clients learn to identify these automatic negative thoughts (ANTs) that often arise in situations that tempt them to use substances. Therapists help clients understand how these ANTs distort their perception of reality and contribute to unhealthy behaviors.

Building a Toolkit for Change

CBT equips people with a practical toolkit to challenge and replace negative thinking patterns through:

Cognitive Restructuring

Clients learn to recognize common cognitive distortions (e.g., black-and-white thinking, overgeneralization) that contribute to negative emotions and substance use.
Through guided exercises, clients challenge these distorted thoughts and replace them with more balanced and realistic ones. For example, replacing the thought “I can’t cope without substances” with “I have the skills to manage my stress.”

Behavioral Experiments

CBT is not just about talk; it’s about action. Behavioral experiments involve putting new, healthier thoughts into practice. Therapists help clients design and implement experiments to test the validity of their negative thoughts and beliefs.
For example, if a client believes they cannot enjoy social situations without using substances, they might attend a social event sober and observe their experience.

Relapse Prevention Planning

A key component of CBT is relapse prevention planning. Therapists work with clients to identify their high-risk situations (triggers) and develop coping strategies to manage them effectively. This might involve:
  • Relaxation techniques
  • Seeking social support
  • Practicing refusal skills

Psychotherapy in Treating Addiction: Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)

At MHRC, we recognize that addiction can often stem from difficulty managing emotions and navigating relationships. DBT is a powerful approach that addresses these challenges by combining cognitive-behavioral techniques with mindfulness practices.

A Holistic Approach to Emotional Regulation

DBT goes beyond simply identifying negative thoughts. It equips people with a comprehensive skill set to:
  • Regulate emotions
  • Improve interpersonal skills
  • Tolerate distress without resorting to substance use
This holistic approach empowers clients to build a life worth living, independent of substances.

Building Essential Skills for Recovery

Through DBT, clients at MHRC learn a range of core skills that become the foundation for lasting change, including:

Emotion Regulation

Clients learn practical techniques to identify, understand, and manage their emotions effectively. This might involve:
  • Mindfulness exercises
  • Distress tolerance skills like deep breathing
  • Strategies for expressing emotions assertively

Distress Tolerance

Addiction is often used as a coping mechanism for emotional pain. DBT teaches clients healthy ways to tolerate distress without resorting to substance use.
This could involve:
  • Distraction techniques
  • Self-soothing skills
  • Crisis management strategies

Interpersonal Effectiveness

Healthy relationships are crucial for recovery. DBT helps people:
  • Develop effective communication skills
  • Set boundaries
  • Navigate conflict in a healthy way


Mindfulness practices cultivate present-moment awareness and acceptance. This allows clients to observe their thoughts and emotions without judgment, reducing the urge to escape through substances.

Psychotherapy in Treating Addiction: Psychodynamic Therapy

While CBT and DBT focus on present thoughts and behaviors, psychodynamic therapy takes a deeper dive into the unconscious mind. At Mile High Recovery Center, we understand that past experiences and unresolved conflicts can play a significant role in addiction.
Psychodynamic therapy provides a space to explore these underlying issues and promote insight, resolution, and emotional healing.5

Uncovering the Roots of Addiction

Psychodynamic therapy operates on the principle that unconscious motivations and unresolved conflicts from early life experiences can contribute to addictive behaviors.
Through this approach, therapists help clients explore recurring themes and patterns in their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. This exploration can shed light on how past experiences might be influencing their present struggles with addiction.

Techniques for Unconscious Exploration

Psychodynamic therapy utilizes various techniques to access the unconscious mind and uncover underlying issues. These include:

Free Association

Clients are encouraged to freely express whatever thoughts and feelings come to mind, without censorship. By analyzing these free associations, therapists can identify unconscious thoughts and conflicts that may be contributing to addiction.

Dream Analysis

Dreams are often seen as a window into the unconscious mind. In psychodynamic therapy, therapists help clients explore the symbolism and meaning behind their dreams to gain insight into unresolved issues and repressed emotions.

Transference and Countertransference

The therapeutic relationship itself becomes a powerful tool for exploration. Transference refers to the unconscious feelings and experiences that clients project onto the therapist. Countertransference refers to the therapist’s emotional reactions to the client.
By examining these dynamics, therapists can help clients understand how past relationship patterns might be impacting their present behaviors, including substance use.

Integrating Holistic Approaches with Psychotherapy in Treating Addiction

At Mile High Recovery Center, we believe in a comprehensive approach to addiction treatment. While psychotherapy is a cornerstone of our program, we recognize the importance of addressing the physical, emotional, and spiritual aspects of addiction. This is where holistic therapies come into play.
Holistic therapies offer a range of techniques to nurture the mind, body, and spirit. When integrated seamlessly with psychotherapy in treating addiction, these modalities promote well-being and enhance treatment outcomes.

Complementary Tools for Recovery

MHRC offers a variety of holistic modalities that complement the psychotherapeutic process. These include:

Mindfulness Practices

Mindfulness meditation cultivates present-moment awareness and acceptance. This helps clients gain a healthier perspective on thoughts and emotions, reducing cravings and promoting emotional regulation. Techniques like mindfulness meditation and yoga can be particularly helpful in this regard.

Expressive Arts Therapy

Art therapy, music therapy, and other expressive arts modalities provide a safe space for people to explore and express their emotions in a non-verbal way. This can be especially beneficial for those who find it challenging to articulate their feelings verbally.

Nutritional Therapy

A balanced diet can significantly impact:
  • Mood
  • Energy levels
  • Cravings
Nutritional counseling at MHRC helps people develop healthy eating habits that support their recovery journey.

Physical Fitness

Regular exercise releases endorphins, natural mood elevators that can combat cravings and promote feelings of well-being. MHRC incorporates physical activity options into the treatment plan, catering to individual fitness levels.

Adventure Therapy

For some people, spending time in nature and engaging in physical challenges can be a powerful tool for self-discovery and building resilience. MHRC offers adventure therapy options like hiking or rock climbing to complement psychotherapy.

Psychotherapy in Treating Addiction

Psychotherapy in Treating Addiction: Addressing Co-Occurring Disorders

The road to recovery is often more complex for people struggling with both addiction and co-occurring mental health disorders.
At Mile High Recovery Center, we understand this complexity. That’s why we firmly believe in the importance of addressing both conditions at the same time through integrated treatment approaches and psychotherapy in treating addiction.

Why Dual Diagnosis Matters

Co-occurring mental health disorders and addiction often feed into a vicious cycle. Untreated mental health issues can increase the risk of substance use as a coping mechanism, and addiction can worsen symptoms of mental illness. Effective treatment requires addressing both conditions concurrently.
Integrated therapy allows us to not only manage the symptoms of each condition but also explore the underlying factors that contribute to both.

A Collaborative Approach at MHRC

MHRC boasts a multidisciplinary team of qualified professionals, including:
  • Therapists
  • Psychiatrists
  • Nurses
  • Other specialists
This team works collaboratively to develop a comprehensive treatment plan tailored to each client’s unique needs. Here’s how we incorporate psychotherapy alongside other modalities:

Evidence-Based Psychotherapy in Treating Addiction

As discussed previously, MHRC utilizes a variety of evidence-based psychotherapeutic approaches like CBT, DBT, or psychodynamic therapy to address the psychological aspects of addiction and co-occurring disorders.
Therapists work with clients to:
  1. Develop healthy coping mechanisms
  2. Manage emotional dysregulation
  3. Heal from past traumas

Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)

For some people with co-occurring disorders, MAT can be a crucial component of recovery. MAT combines medications that reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms with psychotherapy to address the underlying behavioral and psychological aspects of addiction.
MHRC’s medical team can evaluate if MAT is appropriate for each client’s individual needs.

Holistic Therapies

Holistic modalities such as mindfulness practices, nutritional therapy, and physical fitness, play a vital role in supporting mental health alongside addiction recovery.
These therapies:
  • Promote well-being
  • Reduce stress
  • Create a foundation for healthy living

Family Involvement

Recognizing the role of family in recovery, we involve family members in the treatment process through family therapy and educational programs. This helps to create a supportive home environment that fosters recovery and reduces the risk of relapse.

Your Journey to Recovery Starts Here

Ready to reclaim your life from addiction? Mile High Recovery Center offers personalized treatment plans featuring powerful psychotherapy in treating addiction to address the root causes of your substance use.
Contact us today for a free consultation and take the first step toward lasting recovery.

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