What Is 12-Step Facilitation Therapy?
Twelve-step facilitation therapy is a type of behavioral therapy that promotes long-term abstinence by encouraging and facilitating the active engagement of clients in a 12-step recovery group. It has its basis in 12-step fellowships, and it operates under the assumption that addiction is a chronic and progressive disease that has biological, psychological and spiritual aspects, all of which are addressed as an individual works through the 12 steps.
According to an article published in the journal Recent Developments in Alcoholism, individuals who continuously participate in a 12-step program like Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous are nearly six times more likely than those who don’t participate to enjoy continuous abstinence for at least a year after treatment ends, and they’re up to five times more likely to still be sober after three years. Involvement in this type of peer support group is a critical component of the aftercare plan that’s implemented once treatment is complete.
Getting involved in the 12 steps from the beginning offers the opportunity to begin forging relationships with other non-users early on to help improve the chances of long-term recovery. Twelve-step facilitation therapy is used to treat drug and alcohol addiction by modifying attitudes and behaviors. It incorporates the following three key ideas:
- Acceptance – Clients come to realize that drug and alcohol addiction is a disease that cannot be controlled. The abuse of addictive substances has caused it to become completely unmanageable and willpower cannot defeat the addiction on its own. Abstinence is the only way to overcome drug and alcohol addiction.
- Surrender – In order to heal, clients must surrender to their higher power and accept the peer support provided by other addicted individuals in the same situation. Clients must also accept the that adhering to the 12-step program will provide them with the highest opportunity for personal success in sobriety.
- Active involvement – Another main aspect of 12-step therapy is that clients regularly attend 12-step meetings and participate in all related activities.
Benefits of 12-Step Facilitation Therapy
- Helps clients achieve and sustain long-term recovery
- Offers clients a peer community of individuals with shared experiences
- Provides sobriety tips and techniques from other people’s life experiences
- Provides consistent access to a judgment-free environment in which to talk and listen
How 12-Step Facilitation Therapy Is Used in Addiction Treatment
At Nova Recovery Center, 12-step facilitation therapy is used in a number of different aspects of our recovery programming. Gender-specific treatment groups include an Awareness Group and a Big Book Group, which each meet four to five times per week. In Awareness Group, clients have the opportunity to identify certain behaviors that affect their family, friends, and recovery community members, and gradually learn to understand how these attitudes and actions may be harmful. The language used in Awareness Group is in the form of sentence stems, such as “When I see …” or “When I hear …” and “I feel …” to shed light on particular behaviors that an individual may not see or acknowledge within themselves. The group then encourages the person to make commitments to change their behaviors and continues to hold them accountable to these commitments.
In Big Book Group, clients study the principles of the 12-step program, ask questions, and discuss their answers. Each group is made up of clients working through the same steps. For example, one group encompasses clients working on steps one through three. Another group is made of up of clients working on steps four through seven, and so on. Recovery specialists also meet one-on-one with clients two times per week. All of these treatment groups and individual sessions are facilitated by recovery specialists, who are actively working through the 12-step program themselves. This provides a unique opportunity for recovery specialists to act as role models while they live out the principles of the 12-step program on a daily basis for clients to see.
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