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Which Portions of AA Will I Focus on in Behavioral Therapy?

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12-step therapy is often utilized as part of professional behavioral treatment. Your counselor will work with you as you begin the 12 steps and start your journey of recovery with AA. But which portions of the program will you focus on in your behavioral therapy?

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AA as a Part of Addiction Treatment

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, “Most 12-step based programs concentrate on the first five steps during primary treatment, whereas the remaining ones are attended to during aftercare.”

This is partly because of the change that occurs in the program after the sixth step, where a person goes from being ready to have their higher power remove “all… defects of character” to “humbly ask[ing]” that power to do so. After the sixth step, AA often becomes a much more personal journey, and patients are encouraged to continue it after treatment.

The First 6 Steps

Behavioral Therapy

In behavioral therapy, patients learn to accept their lack of control.

The initial 6 steps are sometimes very difficult because they ask a person to accept that their life is no longer within their control because of their dangerous, unmanageable substance abuse.

In 12-step facilitation therapy, though, a behavioral therapy method that incorporates programs like AA into formal treatment and guides patients through their confusion with any of the 12 steps, acceptance is one of the key ideas that counselors attempt to get through to the patients.

As stated by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, acceptance leads to the realization “that abstinence is the only alternative” and, since the patient is not able to control their drug abuse themselves, a higher power must be sought.

Once an individual knows this, surrender becomes the next step, which involves giving over one’s will to their chosen higher power instead of feeling the need to control their uncontrollable substance abuse on their own. This act of surrender effectively takes up steps 3 through 6, in which the patient:

  • Makes a decision to turn their will over to the higher power
  • Takes a moral inventory of themselves, hiding nothing
  • Admits to themselves, to their higher power, and to another individual, in this case, usually their counselor, exactly what they have done wrong
  • Gets ready to ask their higher power to remove their shortcomings

Once you reach this point in the 12 steps, your treatment will usually be coming to an end. Of course your counselor will be there every step of the way to help you navigate the program and to ensure you utilize it in a way that is safe and beneficial to you.

Although behavioral therapy in general usually only focuses on the first 6 steps, it gives patients a strong foundation for their recovery and a safe and effective way to begin their treatment for addiction.

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