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Page Contents: Whether psychodynamic psychotherapy interferes with recovery from alcoholism.                    


im recovering from drink problem 4yrs sober in 12 step prog with psychodynmic counselling 2 yrs for depression would they interfere with recovery side by side. ive become very angry pushing people who help me is this part of therapy I feel worse than ever but therapist just replies with ~the answers i need lie inside me~ what does she mean by that ? im desperate to know

In the initial stage of recovery from alcoholism, some form of social support—such as a 12-Step program—is critical. Through group support and pressure you have to learn the cognitive-behavioral skills necessary to resist the temptation to drink. During all of this, it really isn’t important to understand the deep unconscious reasons why you drink. All that matters is that you don’t drink.

After you have become established in recovery, then you can start psychodynamic psychotherapy to get to the cause of—and heal—the emotional wounds from the past that your drinking has served to cover up and hide. Through group pressure, 12-Step programs only ward off the craving to drink, but real psychotherapy can bring you to the place where you no longer even want to use alcohol as a psychological defense against your emotional life.

But, as I say throughout this website, the psychotherapy process can be difficult and painful, so there’s always the danger of relapse in moments when the emotional pain seems to be overwhelming. If you do relapse, then you have to tell your psychotherapist, and you have to tell your sponsor and everyone else in the 12-Step program. And you have to go back to Step One of the program and start over again from the beginning. If you persevere through it all with patience and discipline, though, you can actually achieve a state of mind in which you “see through” the illusions of comfort that alcohol holds out, such that alcohol cannot even tempt you anymore.

Now, in your case, it seems that your psychotherapy has been successful so far in helping you uncover the depths of your unconscious anger. This anger you feel now is not the result of your psychotherapy; in fact, it’s really nothing new, because it is anger that has been inside you all along and that you have been trying to avoid until now by drinking. This sort of “anger turned inward” is also the cause of depression. So of course you feel worse than before, because now you have to feel the anger, rather than drown it in alcohol and turn it against yourself in depression. This is the core of the therapeutic work: to feel emotions and talk about them, not to hide them, push them away, or run from them.

When your psychotherapist tells you that the answers lie within you, she simply means that if you do the psychotherapeutic work with dedication and courage, you will encounter your deepest fears—and your deepest strengths—and you will find true healing.


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