A therapist and their patient discussing their alcohol addiction.

How to Find the Right Therapist to Help With Alcohol Abuse

Last Updated: Fri, March 29, 2024

An essential part of alcohol abuse recovery is addressing your mental health and the things that triggered your addiction. The best way to do this is to see a therapist who can help you navigate the recovery process. Finding the right therapist is incredibly important, especially when you are beginning your recovery and need someone with experience in your area.

Get Specific

Not every therapist out there has experience when it comes to addiction and alcohol abuse. Even though therapists are trained in many of the same areas, it is ideal if you can find one who specializes in alcohol addiction. The more specific their credentials are, the more experience they will have helping people in your situation.

Addiction is a real disease and completely alters how your brain works. That is why you may not get the help you need from a general therapist.

Aside from choosing a therapist to work specifically with alcohol abuse, there are other options for getting therapy. There are addiction counselors, support groups, and therapy groups that all provide different things depending on your goals. In many cases, people will choose one of these options to go along with individual therapy.

Understand Your Goals

Before you get serious about finding an addiction therapist, you need to understand what your goal is for therapy. Keep in mind that a therapist can help you get to the bottom of this once you begin attending therapy sessions. Part of their job is helping you create realistic goals aligning with your mental health needs.

However, having a broad idea of what you want to accomplish will help you choose a therapist that best aligns with those goals. Therapists may specialize in other areas, such as career paths, family history, or trauma.

There are also other types of therapies that you may want to try out during your addiction recovery. Some examples include rational emotive behavioral therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, or contingency management. 

Find Reviews or Referrals

As you research local therapists, you need to read reviews to see what other patients have said. Even though reviews come down to personal opinions, seeing what other people experienced with that therapist can still be helpful. 

It is even better if you can get referrals from people you know and trust. If you are part of any addiction organizations or support groups, this is a great place to find referrals from people who have also received therapy.

Any organizations you are a part of may also have recommendations for specific types of therapists. Local sobriety centers or mental health centers may have a database of therapists, and most support groups will provide this information to members.

Look into Your Insurance

Even though the most critical aspect of therapy is finding the right therapist to help you during recovery, you also have to be practical. Therapy costs money and can often become very expensive if you do not have any kind of coverage.

The good news is that most people have insurance plans that provide some level of coverage for therapy sessions. You need to look into your insurance plan to see what kind of mental health services it covers and to what extent. Some plans only cover a certain amount of therapy appointments or a specific monthly or yearly cost for therapy.

You will also need to compare the therapist you are researching to your insurance plan to see if they are covered and if they accept your insurance.

Reach Out to Local Organizations

Depending on the community you are a part of, you may have resources already available to you when it comes to therapy. A great example is college students, who usually have access to a university counseling center. Universities may not always provide counseling specifically for addiction, but it is worth looking into.

Some workplaces also provide wellness and counseling services or an employee assistance program. If you are part of a church, synagogue, or worship center, these places may also offer faith-based treatment options.

Ask Questions

When you meet a potential therapist, it is always a good idea to have questions ready to get a better idea of what they provide. Sometimes, you can speak with them over the phone before officially having an appointment, or you may need to make a first appointment just to see if they are the right fit for you.

This is a good time to ask any questions that you were not able to clarify by researching the therapist online. For instance, you can ask them what their specialties are, what treatment options they prefer, and how many years they have been in practice.

It is also a good idea to ask personal questions such as if they will prescribe medication if you need it and if they have dealt with any situations that are similar to yours.

Trust Your Gut

At the end of the day, no matter how much research you do, you will need to trust your gut regarding the therapist you choose to go with. A therapist may look perfect on paper but may not be the right fit for your personality or situation.

Always assess how you feel when you have your first appointment with a therapist. Do they make you feel like you are in a safe and confidential space? Are they allowing you to speak openly and finish your thoughts without interrupting you? Do you think that they are empathetic and present during the appointment?

These are just a few questions to ask yourself to evaluate how you felt about your appointment. Keep in mind that a little bit of nervousness is normal, but the therapist should start to help you feel at ease.


Finding the right therapist for alcohol abuse can be challenging, especially if there aren’t many that specialize in this area within your local community. These tips can help you evaluate your options and choose a therapist who will help you get closer to your goals.

Don’t hesitate to reach out for help from alcohol abuse organizations and communities since there are many free resources available. Getting referrals from others who are also in alcohol recovery is a great place to start.

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