Psychotherapy and the Twelve Steps
Psychotherapy and the Twelve Steps, when used together to complement each other and practiced in the spirit of cooperation, can be a powerful force for healing and transformation which can mean the difference between true happiness in recovery and continued struggle, or even relapse and suffering. The Twelve Steps and psychotherapy are not only compatible but are, in a sense, merely different approaches to, and contexts for, the same process: discovering and bringing to light that which blocks or obstructs our capacity for joy and aliveness, and cultivating a more balanced, fulfilling and joyful way of life; one that is sustainable over time.
The Twelve Steps, when practiced wholeheartedly, invite us to look closely at our thoughts, feelings, motives, beliefs, attitudes, dreams, fantasies, and conduct, and to discuss these with another human being, in the interest of freeing ourselves from the bonds of suffering and living happy and productive lives. They are a process of becoming more aware of how we actually live, moment by moment, and finding a fuller and free-er way of living; an invitation to deeper awareness and connection. Psychotherapy is a similar and, in some instances, nearly identical process. The containers and interventions may differ but, ultimately, the goal and the essence are the same.
Many people in Twelve Step programs arrive at a point in their recovery where therapy becomes an essential part of the process. For many, this is a troubling and challenging dilemma. Having, in many cases, come to trust almost entirely in their sponsor or sponsors, their friends in recovery, the practices and principles they have come to learn, and the Twelve Steps as a way of life, the prospect of trusting someone who may not be in recovery, especially regarding intimate, shameful, and painful experiences, feels risky at best and life threatening at worst.
“What if my therapist and my sponsor don’t agree? What if my therapist suggests I do something that the program would discourage? What if I get triggered by something my therapist says and relapse? How can I trust a therapist and a sponsor and a Higher Power? I don’t want to upset the apple cart; I’ve been sober – or abstinent – too long.” A well-informed and aware therapist can offer a quality of aid and support that can make this journey less treacherous – both actually and emotionally – for a client in recovery.
As an addict in recovery for over thirty years, I bring a thorough familiarity with, and faith in, the Twelve Steps to my practice as a psychotherapist and feel that I have a unique vantage point from which to address the particular needs and concerns of clients in recovery.
If you are an addict in recovery – or not yet in recovery but considering it – I may be able to help you. Please contact me for a free video or telephone consultation.
*I am currently offering both in-person therapy and remote therapy via phone or videoconference.