How Does 12 Step Facilitation Therapy Work?

12-step facilitation therapy often works in tandem with traditional 12-step programs to help addicted individuals recover and gain back control of their lives. This treatment method provides structure to an individual’s overall rehabilitation program and helps the individual shape their recovery in the way that is most beneficial to them.

What is 12-step Facilitation Therapy?

facilitation therapy

Facilitation therapy promotes abstinence.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “12-step facilitation therapy is an active engagement strategy designed to increase the likelihood of a substance abuser becoming affiliated with and actively involved in 12-step self-help groups, thereby promoting abstinence.” 12-step programs have been extensively studied for their effectiveness and benefits and have been found to be very favorable in many situations for those addicted individuals who attend their meetings and ascribe to their philosophies. This behavioral therapy helps enable individuals to eventually do so while also providing them with extra structure, especially early on in their recovery.

What are the Key Ideas of 12-step Facilitation Therapy?

The key points or philosophies of this treatment option are very similar to those of traditional 12-step programs. The NIDA highlights the main ideas that predominate the treatment:

  • Acceptance of one’s addiction and “the realization that drug addiction is a chronic, progressive disease over which one has no control”
    • This can be difficult for many individuals to admit, but once they are able to, it is much easier for them to accept the other principles of the program as well as for them to accept help from others.
    • It is also important that the recovering addict realizes that sheer willpower alone will not be enough to protect them from relapse or to help them make the changes they seek for their lives.
  • Surrender to the need for help
    • This means both the idea of giving oneself over to a higher power and “accepting the fellowship and support structure of other recovering addicted individuals.”
    • Because this can be the hardest step for many people, receiving one-on-one counseling through the facilitation therapy can help diminish the fears an individual can often have at this stage and help them understand why surrender is a necessary part of the 12-step program.
  • Involvement in the program’s meetings and other activities
    • As the therapy itself progresses, the individual can begin attending 12-step meetings or learning more about what the program has to offer.
    • It is, however, imperative that the counselor helps the recovering addict understand that the program will not work unless they participate in the activities related to the 12-step process. The program itself is more hands-off than other treatment options, and the individual must choose to involve themselves in it, otherwise they will not be able to actively benefit from it.

Once these philosophies are fully imparted to the patient, they can begin their journey through the 12-step program with more understanding and often in a much easier way than those who start with no knowledge of the program or what it teaches.

The Counselor’s Job in 12-step Facilitation Therapy

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the therapy itself focuses on the two main goals of helping patients accept and surrender. Then, it is easier for them to become involved in the program. However, the counselor must also do a number of other things to ensure that the individual is ready to begin attending meetings.

First, the counselor “assesses the client’s alcohol or drug use,” helping them more accurately determine which 12-step program they will be most benefited by. For example, if the individual has been an alcoholic for many years but also abuses opioid drugs occasionally, they will likely benefit most from Alcoholics Anonymous.

Then, the counselor must make sure to advocate for the necessity of abstinence. Abstinence is part of the 12-step philosophy, and it is very difficult for members who are unable to stay abstinent to succeed in the program. The counselor must help their patient understand that complete abstinence is a necessary part of recovery and of being a member of the program.

It is also important for the counselor to explain the program’s concepts to the individual, not just the main points, so that the recovering addict understands what it will entail when they begin attending meetings. Once this occurs, the counselor “actively supports and facilitates initial involvement and ongoing participation” in the specific program that best suits the individual’s needs, making sure that they are able to attend meetings, that they are comfortable with their group, and that any other components of the transition into the program and continued involvement with it are smooth.

Why is 12-step Facilitation Therapy Helpful?

The group support involved in 12-step programs is extremely beneficial for members, and all of the activities work to prevent further drug abuse as well as to promote a healthful lifestyle. But it can be difficult to learn how the program can benefit you as well as all the nuances of the 12-step process before you begin. This is why the therapy is so helpful. In addition, it provides the recovering addict with one-on-one treatment that works as a guide and a supplement to the more group-centric 12-step program.

Other Components of 12-step Facilitation Therapy

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, the treatment itself is usually very structured with a specific number of sessions outlined for the patient and their eventual goal being involvement with a 12-step program that benefits their needs. Counselors often encourage patients to keep a journal and to read from the 12-step literature in order to familiarize themselves with it.

Recovery tasks are usually chosen during each session as well, to help the individual while they not in their sessions. Overall, this treatment works by helping patients learn to understand the 12-step program, its philosophies, its important components, and their own responsibilities in the process of making it work for them as a safe, beneficial addiction treatment.

Do You Want to Attend 12-step Facilitation Therapy?

If you would like to receive 12-step facilitation treatment before you begin your involvement with the program itself, call 888-905-9004. We can help you learn more about the treatment and find counselors near you who can help.

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