8 Approaches to Alcohol Counseling

The effects of alcohol abuse can negatively impact every aspect of your life, from your health to your relationships to your finances. The good news is that alcohol counseling is an effective way to regain control over your life and your cravings. In this article, we will explain the different types of alcohol counseling available with the hope of demystifying the process and giving you the information you need to begin your recovery with hope.

What Is Alcohol Counseling?

What Happens During Treatment?

Alcohol Counseling is the process by which a licensed counselor specializing in alcohol abuse provides treatment for a patient who suffers from an AUD (alcohol abuse disorder). The goals of their work include:

  • Building motivation for the person to overcome alcoholism
  • Helping the person change patterns of thinking that feed alcoholism
  • Addressing underlying mental health issues
  • Involving the person's family and friends as a support network
  • Helping the person find other support networks
  • Suggesting medication, when appropriate
  • Helping the person resist triggers and cravings
  • Helping the person develop a healthy lifestyle that supports sobriety

How Can You Choose a Counselor?

It is important to find a counselor whom you trust and who makes you feel respected. Search in your area for experts who are properly credentialed. When you have found 2 or 3, ask them detailed questions about their approach to treatment. Confirm that they accept your insurance plan. Finally, go with the counselor with whom you have the best connection.

How Long Does Treatment Take?

The duration of the treatment depends on a person's individual situation and how long he or she has had an AUD. Both outpatient and inpatient services are available. One common plan is the 12-step program, which takes 28 days, but this is not enough time for all people. In many cases, people who formerly had an AUD continue to experience cravings long after their initial treatment, and ongoing counseling is necessary to maintain sobriety. Fortunately, the right counselor can help you make a plan for maintaining your abstinence throughout your life.

Is There a Need for Alcohol Counseling?

The effects of alcohol abuse are devastating to individuals and their families. Alcohol abuse disorders can lead to health problems, early death, financial deprivation, and estrangement from loved ones. A person with an AUD experiences strong cravings that are difficult to resist, especially because alcohol is pervasive in our society. Proper treatment can help a person overcome an AUD despite the fact that it is a challenging, complicated, and serious disorder.

What Are Some Signs That a Person Might Need Counseling?

  • Drinking more than intended
  • Failed attempts to stop drinking
  • Alcohol-related problems at work or at school
  • Reduced attention to hobbies or other interests
  • Alcohol-related strain on relationships
  • Driving while drunk and other dangerous behavior
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Withdrawal symptoms when not drinking
  • Feeling the need to drink more and more to feel the same effect

8 Approaches to Alcohol Counseling


Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

As its name implies, this therapy finds connections between a person's thoughts and their actions. Specifically, the counselor will help the patient identify feelings and situations that lead him or her to drink. The counselor then offers ways in which the patient can manage stress and modify his or her beliefs to support a sober lifestyle.



Alcoholism is a disease, and the effects of an AUD are physical. Biofeedback is a form of counseling that helps a patient control his or her heart rate, muscle tension, breath, temperature, and other bodily functions.


Holistic Therapy

Holistic therapy addresses an AUD by promoting positive lifestyle changes that help a patient build the spiritual, physical, and emotional foundation for a healthy, alcohol-free life. Meditation, energy healing, spiritual healing, and acupuncture are some forms of treatment that might be included, among others.


Support Groups

During alcohol counseling, which can incorporate several different approaches, support groups are used to help a patient feel a sense of community and get help fighting his or her AUD. Several notable support groups include:

Alcoholics Anonymous

This program connects individuals with other people suffering from an AUD. It offers a 12-step program that, with the support of the newly found community, can lead to recovery.


This is a support group for the loved ones of someone with an AUD. It provides a special 12-step program for them along with community support.


This group was specially created for teenagers who have a family member that suffers from an AUD. It allows the teens to share their emotions, manage their stress, and build their self-esteem.


Medication-Assisted Therapy

During medication-assisted therapy, other approaches to treatment are complimented with medications that experts recommend.


Motivational Enhancement Therapy

Alcohol counselors use motivational enhancement therapy to build a patient's desire to overcome an AUD. During treatment, they will focus on the negative consequences of drinking and the ways in which sobriety can benefit the patient. They also help the patient make a plan for treatment and look forward to the benefits of living alcohol-free.


Family and Marital Counseling

This treatment involves a patient's family and spouse for two reasons. The first is that these people can provide support which, research shows, can greatly improve the chances for recovery. The second is that people who are close to someone who suffers from an AUD often benefit from treatment, themselves.


Brief Interventions

Brief interventions are short sessions conducted for a limited period of time during which a counselor reviews a patient's drinking patterns and educates him or her on their negative consequences. Brief interventions can involve friends and/or family. One aspect of the sessions is developing a plan for more comprehensive treatment.


While an AUD can be daunting and difficult to deal with, it is important to know that you are not alone, and that many effective forms of treatment are available. Whatever approach to alcohol counseling you and your counselor take, understand that overcoming the challenges ahead will greatly benefit you and your loved ones. The methods mentioned in this article are backed by scientific research and the experience of many people who have undergone treatment. We wish you hope and a positive road to recovery.

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