Evidence-Based Therapy Approach
Drug Addictions & Mental Health
1–on–1, Experiential Therapies, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Dialectical Behavior Therapy, Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing
All therapeutic relationships at Morningside Recovery are based on creating an alliance -- a professional and mutual trust, a bond between client and Morningside staff (e.g., clinician, therapist), reinforced by authentic empathy and responsibility. Most of the staff and many of the therapists are in recovery themselves, so their take on the various theoretical approaches is informed by direct experience. This is often the crucial link necessary to truly connect with a client. Morningside’s therapists use evidence-based approaches such as experiential therapies, cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavior therapy, and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing. These approaches are tailored to suit a client’s unique needs. And more importantly, clients are assigned to a primary therapist with expertise in that client’s particular needs. Research has proven that this personal experience is priceless. One Morningside therapist shared, “Since therapy deals with feelings such as anger, shame, loss and grief, a therapist must be able to provide validation. This means relating to the client as a person of equal status and worth, not as an authority figure who decides what’s right and wrong.”
1–on–1 – Individual Therapy: Behaviors, Emotions
Generally, individual therapy begins with sessions at least once per week. Group sessions for the various treatment tracks are scheduled daily. Therapy is active, problem-focused, and goal-directed. All therapy seeks honesty and rejects disingenuous behaviors and emotions. Therefore, all therapy consists of listening empathetically, reflecting accurately, and helping clients to identify any undesired behaviors that are due to chemical imbalances or past personal history. Therapy also highlights positive behaviors that match the client’s long term goals. One client shared, “I’d already had people telling me what to do all my life, so when I first got to Morningside I figured therapy was more of the same. I figured out pretty quickly that wasn’t the deal at all. I felt like I was finally able to look at some personal issues and think about what I really wanted with a clear head.”
The goal is for clients to release the emotions that have been stunted and repressed. For example, in its experiential therapy department, Morningside offers rock climbing, equine therapy, art therapy, Tai Chi, dance, and many other approaches that allow the client to fully process emotions and problems (and, Yoga, of course). Released from unresolved emotions around relationships, the client’s recovery rests on a solid foundation. Likewise, clients with co-occurring disorders address their anger, shame, doubts, and rage, replacing this dead baggage with feelings of love, hope, and serenity.
Morningside staff tirelessly fosters cohesiveness in all treatment groups and clients often cite "the group" as their favorite aspect of treatment. The peer group culture at Morningside Recovery and relationships that develop in the larger recovery community are also important therapeutic elements. In a supportive peer therapy group, clients participate and engage more actively and there is a tide towards positive energy, encouraging clients to make changes even when scary emotions are experienced. Moreover, this supportive peer culture is the vital heart of treatment for the most vulnerable clients.
Therapy can be a bumpy road, but the journey is always worth the work, the effort of the journey (what about Psychodrama therapy?). Many clients have made previous attempts to stay sober, many have been resistant to therapy, and many have been in denial. The difference at Morningside Recovery comes in the culture, with staff, therapists and clients all working together for a common cause. As one therapist shared, “One of the miracles that I get to see that’s so rewarding is the restoration of a family. Therapy can detoxify the emotional climate of a client’s family.”
The therapy summaries below provide brief overviews of the principles of the various approaches and how they apply at Morningside Recovery.
Experiential Therapies: Mental Health
Experiential Therapies involve creating a covenant with clients to discover their positive resources. Research has demonstrated that Experiential Therapies are effective at treating depression, anxiety disorders, personality disorders, substance abuse disorders, and unhealthy nutritional behaviors. Experiential Therapy can be especially effective in dealing with body image issues. Experiential Therapy suggests the role play method as a way for the past and present to meet and heal, while dealing with feelings that are unfamiliar and often scary, replacing them with feelings of contentment, trust, and gratitude.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: Mental Health
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is actually a range of therapies that are useful for a wide variety of problems, including depression, anxiety disorders, personality disorders, and substance abuse disorders. Morningside Recovery uses CBT because it is very practical and emphasizes looking at ourselves and our own thinking. CBT relies on education, making use of homework assignments and setting goals. At Morningside, therapists set deadlines for certain goals. Therefore, CBT is a measurable process based on the idea that our thoughts cause our feelings and behaviors rather than external things like people, situations, and events. Clients can free themselves from a life where the external, uncontrollable world dictates how they feel.
CBT is one of the most efficient types of therapies because the problem solving strategies are designed to assess the specific problems of the individual client. Therapists and clients work together to figure out what factors are maintaining the problem behaviors. Many clients have experienced results in as few as twelve sessions. The ultimate aim is to give clients life-long tools to modify their own behavior. (Additional background regarding Cognitive Beavior Therapy -- CBT's effectiveness for psychiatric disorders, medical disorders with psychological components and pychological challenges, from the Beck Institute, started at the University of Pennsylvania.
Dialectical Behavior Therapy: Mental Health
Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) accepts clients as they are in the moment. This is not to say that DBT doesn’t challenge clients or demand responsibility. To the contrary, DBT focuses therapeutic energy on challenging a client’s point of view while simultaneously acknowledging and accepting it. This dual nature of the therapy is why it’s termed dialectical.
At Morningside Recovery, DBT is most often used with clients suffering from borderline personality disorder (BPD). BPD is a perfect storm of emotional pain that has proven very resistant to therapy. DBT accepts the fact that a client can be powerless to take direction. Thus, DBT seeks to address this by recognizing that it is the emotional regulation system itself that is problematic. DBT takes into account the damaged memory and biased interpretations of clients with BPD, which contribute to their inappropriate emotional responses.
Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing: Mental Health
Morningside Recovery offers a therapy called eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), which was originally developed to treat Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), but is now being used to treat many other problems, including generalized anxiety, phobias, and substance abuse. In general, EMDR is quicker than many other therapies. EMDR therapy attempts to process the experiences that are causing suffering, and to relieve the symptoms of PTSD.
One of the unique features of EMDR is that the client does not have to discuss any disturbing or painful memories in detail with the therapist. Some clients are comfortable giving specifics, while others may share more generally, which is all the information needed in the process of working through memories and images of the traumatic event.
At Morningside, the therapist’s role is to listen, educate, and encourage, while the clients are asked to be honest, learn, and work hard. This methodology is highly effective in developing a sense of completeness and enhancing self-respect. We recognize that some clients enter treatment lacking either the motivation or the skills to adopt the new behavioral requirements quickly enough to experience relief. This can lead to dropping out of treatment. Therefore, therapy and the treatment environment at Morningside work together to help the client quickly develop optimal clinical gains. The treatment atmosphere at Morningside is a constant backstop against relapse and an encouraging force for therapeutic progress. Through therapy, clients let go of pain and begin healing.