Therapist Styles – Choosing a Rehab Therapist

When a client is rehabilitating from drug or alcohol addiction, they may spend time in therapy. This will be with a therapist who specializes in drug and alcohol addiction recovery. Different therapists have different behavior styles. Therapist styles are akin to personality types within therapy. It is beneficial to a client’s recovery if they select a therapist whose behavior style matches with the client’s ability and willingness to receive therapy.

Inventory of Personal Styles of Therapists

In 1986, psychologists adapted the Hersey-Blanchard situational theory of leadership styles to the personality styles of therapists. In the same manner as the situational theory, the psychologists use the two behavior styles of therapists as supportive and directive. They used this scale to create four therapist behavior style types. These styles aid clients in choosing a therapist based on the client’s readiness to accept therapy and the therapist’s style.

Therapist Behavior Dimensions

There are two main therapist behavior dimensions: directive (task-oriented) and supportive (relationship-oriented). Directiveness focuses on clients accomplishing specific tasks. Supportiveness shows concern, support, and empathy for clients. No therapist is only supportive or directive. Instead, there is generally a blend of these two styles, with some more prominent than others. Most, if not all, therapists will use more than one of the styles of therapy, depending on their client’s needs at a given time, and the client’s stage of recovery.

Four Therapist Behavior Combinations

The two behavior styles can be ranked as low to high, resulting in four possible combinations:

* Telling Style characterized by high direction and low support
* Teaching Style characterized by high direction and high support
* Supporting Style characterized by low direction and high support
* Delegating Style characterized by low direction and low support

Telling Style Therapist

This style of therapist takes the role of deciding what the client needs to accomplish, as well as the how and the when. The role of the client is to do what the therapist says. This style of therapist works well with a client who is unwilling or unable to take responsibility for their own addiction recovery.

Teaching Style Therapist

This style of therapist is nurturing and knowledgeable, offering both emotional support and real-world skills to the addict. This style of therapist works well with clients who are willing to change, but lack the necessary tools or knowledge to do so.

Supporting Style Therapist

This style of therapist is mostly supportive, and attends to the client’s emotional needs more, and directing the client less. In this style, the client is responsible to direct their own behavior. This style of therapist works best with clients who want to change, and have the tools to change, but are lacking in the confidence to make the desired changes.

Delegating Style Therapist

This style of therapist allows the client to direct their own behavior, and provide their own emotional support. This style of therapist acts almost in an observer role. This style of therapy is typically utilized toward the end of a client’s treatment, when they already have the confidence and knowledge to manage their own recovery.

Assessing Client Readiness

Client readiness is defined as the client’s ability and willingness to receive therapy to aid in their recovery. In the same way that the therapist styles are divided into four quadrants, the different client readiness levels are divided into four levels.

* R1: Low Readiness – clients who are unwilling or, for whatever reason, unable to accomplish their recovery goals.
* R2: Low-Moderate Readiness – clients who demonstrate mixed or moderate readiness toward their therapy goals.
* R3: High-Moderate Readiness – clients with a higher but still moderate level of ability, willingness, and knowledge to change.
* R4: High Readiness – clients who are fully ready, willing, and able to achieve their recovery therapy goals.

Client Readiness and Therapeutic Style

An addiction recovery therapist will use one or more of the therapist behavior styles when treating an addict in recovery. A therapist generally will be more supportive toward clients in the R1 and R2 stages of readiness, and more directive toward clients in the R3 and R4 stages of readiness.

Measuring Therapist Style

The Therapist Style Inventory (TSI-A) was created in 1986 by Howard, Nance, and Myers in combination with the therapist behavior quadrant. It is a way for clients to assess the behavior style of addiction recovery therapists and determine the best style of therapist. The TSI-A consists of twelve multiple-choice questions that the client should answer as if they are the therapist treating a client. The respondent should choose the answer showing how they would treat the client. This will help define the style of therapist behavior to which the client in recovery will best respond.

Determining Style Preference

After completing the TSI-A, the client is directed to determine therapist style preference. The client must score their answers to the questionnaire according to the instructions on the page. This will determine their preferred style of addiction recovery therapist.

Determining Style Adaptability and Effectiveness

After scoring their answers, the client is directed to a third form which helps the client determine the therapist’s adaptability or effectiveness. After completing the Therapist Style Questionnaire and scoring their answers, the client has the information they need. They can now choose the best therapist for their recovery based on the therapist behavior style and their own readiness level.]]>

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