Finding help for addiction takes time. When someone finds a treatment program, there are different ways to offer support. People who use substances and become addicted need different therapeutic support to heal. Everything they do revolves around addiction so they need space to deal with the challenges appropriately. Motivational enhancement therapy (MET) is one way they use to navigate healing from addiction.
What is MET?
Motivational enhancement therapy (MET) is a technique that helps people stop using substances. It is one tool of many that support better healing. People who work with this technique often find they can control their impulses better, work to heal mental health issues, and find new ways to live without labels and stigma. They begin to define themselves by a different label than someone with addiction. Creating space for their new identity is key in making their healing complete.
MET is based on the idea that people who have an addiction or mental health issues want to change their lives. They are motivated to change and willing to address issues to make change happen. They desire for sobriety but are not sure how to achieve lasting change. Perhaps they have relapsed in the past and now need motivation to succeed in creating change. As they grow stronger physically and mentally, they can break loose the chains and begin to heal. For instance:
- When people are pushed (healthily) past boundaries, they learn what they are capable of achieving
- People with low levels of motivation may need someone to intercept their thinking and behaviors to help drive motivation a little further than loved ones have done in the past
- MET sessions support a format that moves slowly, then builds on each step towards healing
Working in Groups
Some people are not prepared to work out their challenges with others. There is still shame and stigma attached to healing from addiction. It may be hard to open up with others. For this reason, MET focuses on each individual’s challenges. Exposure in a group can reinforce healing pathways rather than keep addiction as the focus but lots of times addiction is at the forefront. MET is different in that it works to see their individual challenges and meets them where they are at. As they meet with a therapist one-on-one, they focus only on their problems and not other people’s in that session.
How MET Works
MET could be used in many ways. Therapy usually follows a schedule with milestones set along the way. Therapy starts with questions to open up to the therapist about motivation. The assessment might take some time and people might be asked lots of questions about their addiction. This includes how often they used, when it started, who else might be using drugs, and any future goals or plans they have. They may take tests to assess their health overall so therapists can determine what types of substances they have used. When all the testing is done, people schedule a meeting where they are able to see everything in context and design a plan. They can work on getting feedback for their goals and devise follow-up plans. Therapy usually finishes in 90 days and family may be asked to play a role. With this feedback, they can begin to encourage the loved one to work at home on these plans and develop them further into long-term recovery goals.
Dual Diagnosis Challenges
People who have co-occurring disorders need lots of extra support. Although MET has been studied in people with addictions to drugs and alcohol with a dual diagnosis, it definitely complicates recovery. They may benefit from it but it depends on the treatment program. They will need to modify their therapies and attend to the serious sides of their multiple diagnoses. People with mental illness may express symptoms of disordered thinking in MET sessions. This disordered thinking may be harmful in the recovery process. Practitioners should not correct their thoughts or identify statements. They should allow symptoms to go away without remarking on them. People may need affirmations that allow them to feel heard. There may other modifications, but these are some strategies people who use MET will employ to help those with dual diagnoses find healing using this method.
Moving Forward in Treatment
The goal of MET is to help people already motivated to enhance their motivation and get the help they need. In an outpatient setting, they can be more productive as they practice these skills in daily living. Other studies have found MET helpful for people, even if they do not get other forms of therapy. MET is helpful for people who are ready and willing to do the work in treatment. When they show up for themselves, they begin the healing journey. Therapists and healing workers only do so much before the person has to put in the extra work themselves to heal. With family and community support, those with addiction are often able to get the help, tools, and resources they need to move forward and enhance their recovery program with the right mindset focused on healing.
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