Rational Existential Therapy

Table of Contents

What is RET?

Rational existential therapy is a treatment modality often used in treating addiction that places a strong emphasis on the importance of existence, free will, and self-determination. It is a therapeutic process that incorporates psychotherapy with existentialism and philosophy, helping clients to take responsibility for their own lives, overcome adversity, and take ownership of their own thoughts and behaviors. You have the capacity for self-awareness, and you have the ability to change. 

RET helps patients to learn to become their own authentic selves through self-acceptance, self-awareness, self-understanding, forgiveness and working to change the parts of life they wish to improve upon. Your authentic self is defined as the degree to which you are true to your own character and spirit, even when there are external pressures trying to provoke you to behave or think in other ways. You have your own unique identity that cannot be changed by others, and through rational existential therapy, you will be better able to make authentic and meaningful decisions that are self-directed.

RET is often compared to rational emotive behavioral therapy because these modalities overlap quite a bit. They both deal with the analysis and evaluation of your own thoughts and feelings, and they both teach ways to overcome negative and unhelpful thoughts through appeals to the rational mind. (For example, you may learn to ask yourself whether you are jumping to conclusions, “mind reading”, or projecting your own biases onto other people), but in RET the focus is more on realizing you are the person responsible for your own actions, and that you have the freedom you have to choose happiness and make healthy decisions over substance abuse.

How it Works

This type of therapy asks difficult and personal questions as you get to know yourself in a safe environment, with an existential therapist guiding you through an exploration of your thoughts and emotions in order to set reasonable expectations for yourself and your recovery.

Because many people with drug and alcohol addictions tend to paint themselves in a negative light and adopt self-defeating beliefs. Because of irrational perceptions about the world and themselves, they may begin to experience doubt, depression, and anger, but gaining insight into the underlying truths through self-reflection can help you to create positive and healthy boundaries and goals for the future. You will also learn how to deal with these uncomfortable emotions and thoughts in empowering new ways.

You have the power to decide your own attitude, how you want to respond to challenges, and how you want your future life to unfold, and with rational existential therapy, you will gain valuable insights to help you become stronger, healthier, and happier sober person you want to become.

When used alongside other treatments like motivational enhancement therapy (MET), TMS therapy, adventure therapy, EMDR therapy, neurofeedback therapy, and cognitive behavioral therapy in an inpatient or outpatient program, rational existential therapy (RET) can be an integral component in addiction treatments.

At Sylvan Detox, we incorporate rational existential therapy into our patient’s individual therapy and treatment plans along with other types of therapy and care for each substance abuser, with treatments like:

  • Behavioral therapy like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) rational emotive behavioral therapy (REBT), and dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT)
  • Family therapy, group therapy and individual therapy
  • Life skills and relapse prevention
  • Motivational interviewing and motivational enhancement therapy
  • Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT)
  • Positive psychotherapy, trauma therapy, person-centered therapy, and narrative therapy
  • Solutions-focused therapy, strength-based therapy, Rogerian therapy, and gestalt therapy
  • 12-step programs

Dual-diagnosis addiction treatments are also available for people who have a co-occurring disorder like bipolar disorder or anxiety disorder, and we provide connections to outpatient treatment centers, sober living homes, and other long-term treatment options after you have completed your time with us.

This integrated approach to care provides each patient with the tools needed in their individual drug and alcohol treatment plans to take back control over their lives, realize they have the freedom to make healthy choices, and understand, accept, and overcome negativity.

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