Medically Reviewed

Alcohol Addiction Counseling: How it Works

- 5 sections

Medically Reviewed: September 25, 2019

Medical Reviewer

Chief Editor


All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.

Obtaining counseling for alcoholism is the first and most important step towards recovery. Intensive therapy helps people change their perceptions, tackle difficult emotions, process past traumas, and learn to cope with triggers in order to avoid relapse. As a result, alcohol addiction counseling is an integral aspect in learning how to stay sober.

Alcoholism is a chronic and progressive illness that affects more than 14.4 million U.S. adults. It is also one of the leading causes of preventable death as it leads to car accidents, alcohol poisoning, vital organ damage, and even death.[1] Fortunately, alcohol addiction is completely treatable with the help of an intensive counseling program and local support groups.

There are many different types of counseling available for the treatment of alcohol addiction in the Memphis, TN area. However, the most effective treatment approaches are those that combine the use of different types of therapies. The most popular treatments include behavioral therapy, demographic-specific counseling groups, recovery-based support groups, and holistic therapy.

Behavioral Counseling Approaches for Alcohol Addiction Treatment

Behavioral therapy refers to types of counseling that address peoples’ behaviors, emotions, thought processes, reactions, and coping skills. This therapeutic approach may be held in a group or individual setting and is guided by a licensed mental health counselor. Some of the most popular behavioral therapies for alcoholism treatment include:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) – CBT is a form of talk therapy where patients become aware of negative thinking patterns. In doing so, they begin to challenge their thought processes and respond to emotions and thoughts in more positive ways. This tool is especially helpful in the treatment of mental health conditions, such as depression, PTSD, or eating disorders.
  • Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) – DBT is a form of CBT where patients learn to live in the present moment, cope with stress in healthy ways, regulate their emotions, and improve their relationships with others. Although originally intended to help people suffering from borderline personality disorder (BPD), this approach is widely used to address drug and alcohol abuse as well.
  • Motivational enhancement therapy (MET) – MET is an approach that helps guide and motivate individuals throughout their recovery. This counseling approach is effective in helping people suffering from alcoholism stop drinking and find reasons to stay sober.
  • Family therapy – Since alcohol addiction affects more than just the person with the drinking problem, counseling is usually offered to family members as well. Family therapy uses a family systems model that shows family members how to work better together as a unit.

Behavioral therapies don’t work overnight. In fact, many people need to participate in several sessions over an extended period of time in order to experience real results. This is because behavioral therapies focus on changing behaviors – some of which may have been ingrained since childhood or early adolescence.

Group-Specific Alcohol Abuse Counseling

Alcohol addiction counseling may also cater to specific groups. Addiction is a disease of isolation – so it’s helpful to be able to relate to others in a safe and supportive environment. Group sessions not only help people not feel so alone, but they also help individuals gain support and comfort from their peers. Some examples of group-specific counseling for alcohol abuse include:

  • DUI classes – it isn’t uncommon for people who suffer from alcoholism to get a DUI or drive under the influence. However, some people charged with a DUI are required to attend alcohol treatment. Learn more about our DUI School in Memphis.
  • Teen substance abuse counseling – teens may experience substance abuse differently than adults, so teens can benefit from age-appropriate group counseling. Adolescents can learn about why it’s important to quit drinking and coping mechanisms to help them stay sober.
  • Dual diagnosis therapy – more than 50% of people who struggle with a substance use disorder also have a mental health condition, so it’s crucial to treat both conditions simultaneously.[2] This is done through dual diagnosis group therapy sessions made up of people who struggle with similar mental health conditions as well as alcoholism.

Group-specific counseling sessions will use individualized methods to target the specific issues the members of the group are dealing with. Group sessions may use behavioral therapies, holistic treatments, educational workshops, and more.

12-Step Programs and Community Support For Alcohol Abuse Recovery

Although 12-step programs and community support groups aren’t necessarily considered counseling, they are vital parts of any alcohol addiction treatment program. Support groups provide participants with a safe, supportive, and non-judgmental environment to overcome their difficulties. Moreover, 12-step groups like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) can be found worldwide, and meetings occur frequently in Memphis and surrounding areas. Some examples of these support groups include:

  • Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) – a 12-step program for people struggling with alcoholism. Members share their experience, strength, and hope with one another while taking a spiritual approach to healing.
  • Al-Anon/AlateenAl-Anon is for family members of alcoholics while Alateen is for teenagers who have family members who are alcoholics. Both programs are based on the 12-steps of AA but teach family members how to support their alcoholic loved ones.

Many people begin participating in community support groups while enrolled in an outpatient rehab program. However, a large number of these individuals continue participating in support groups throughout their sobriety.

Holistic Healing Therapies for Alcoholism

Holistic therapy is an alternative form of treatment that incorporates the mind, body, and spirit. This approach is meant to help encourage people to live a healthy and balanced lifestyle. Although holistic counseling is not a cure for alcohol addiction, it is highly effective when combined with behavioral therapy and a comprehensive treatment program. Some examples of holistic therapies are:

  • Yoga
  • Meditation
  • Art/music
  • Acupuncture
  • Massage
  • Equine therapy
  • Reiki
  • Exercise
  • Nutrition

These activities not only help relieve stress and promote relaxation, but they teach people ways to heal and improve the mind, body, and spirit. In doing so, patients learn how to live healthy lives without the use of drugs or alcohol.

Find Individualized Alcohol Addiction Counseling in Memphis Today

Overcoming alcohol addiction isn’t easy, but with the help of a compassionate and knowledgeable counseling team, recovery is completely possible. Throughout treatment, our Memphis addiction specialists will work closely with you to set goals, monitor your progress, and prevent a relapse. If you’re looking for alcohol treatment that really works, don’t hesitate any longer. Contact us today to get started on an individualized treatment plan just for you.