What To Expect From Online Alcohol Therapy

Therapy is one of the top actions you can take to improve your mental health. For over a decade, I’ve seen therapy transform the lives of my patients. Specifically, online alcohol therapy can be incredibly effective in treating alcohol use disorder, and empowering people to unlock the benefits of drinking less. If therapy is new to you, beginning the process might feel intimidating. To help address those feelings, here’s what you can expect from starting therapy with Monument, and how our therapy program responds to your needs and transforms your goals into your reality. 

What The First Session Will Be Like

The first session is about getting to know each other. Your therapist will ask you questions and want to understand why you made the incredible choice to start therapy. To gather this background, your therapist will likely talk more than usual. Your following appointments will be a lot more flexible and catered to your immediate needs. 

How Sessions Are Structured

To ensure your online alcohol therapy program is building towards your goals, there is a flexible yet intentional structure. You and your therapist will first check in about the past week and how you’re progressing. Consistently aligning and re-aligning with your goals is one of my key recommendations for how to get the most out of therapy. For the majority of the session, you’ll work on reflection (ex. processing experiences) and action (ex. skill building). More on this later!

At the end of the session, your therapist will summarize what was covered, set expectations for your next session, and give any “takeaway” handouts or suggestions (such as attending an online alcohol support group) for you to complete before your next session. While these recommendations are entirely optional, they can be great tools for building an even more sustainable foundation for long-term success. 

man looking at ocean

What You’ll Work On

One of your therapist’s core responsibilities is helping you define your goals, and providing you with the tools and accountability to achieve them. Your goals may involve moderation, or total abstinence, and your goals may change with time. That’s completely normal. Your therapist will work with you to better understand your routines, identify how alcohol affects all aspects of your life, and recognize what coping mechanisms you already have in your toolkit.

Your therapist will then assess what tangible steps you can take to better align you with your goals, and what new coping skills will be most useful in addressing uncomfortable feelings that come up along the way. 

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We're so glad you're here. Welcome! Join other new members in learning about all that Monument has to offer and how we can empower you to change your relationship with alcohol. This is an interactive group including Q&A with a member of Team Monument.
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Still wondering how this structure can help you make progress? Your therapist will use evidence-based strategies like Motivational Interviewing and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. To read more about how these strategies work, check out the Monument treatment plan roadmap

Your therapist is on your side every step of the way. In addition to providing guidance, they will empower you to build a support system of friends and family by identifying who that should be, and providing recommendations for how to talk to them about your goals. If you’re not ready to have a conversation with loved ones yet, your therapist can create that safe space to talk freely about your relationship with alcohol. You can release whatever thoughts and emotions may be overwhelming you, and they will break them down into organized insights and steps. 

What to Expect, Emotionally 

Some days therapy can feel like a tremendous weight is lifted, and other days it can actually make us feel heavier, as we process events and feelings we have been suppressing. It’s important to remember that both of these feelings are valid, and both are indicators of progress. It’s reasonable to expect some internal resistance to the online alcohol therapy process. You may not always agree with everything your therapist says, and it’s important to communicate when those feelings arise. It doesn’t mean your therapist isn’t a good fit, or that you’re not making progress together.

Think about therapy as organizing the closet. Often cleaning the closet means throwing everything on the floor — it can be messy and overwhelming. But by the end, you feel better, and have set yourself up with a clearer path forward. 

What Virtual Therapy is Like 

With commitment and the right environment, attending therapy online provides the same therapeutic benefits of face-to-face therapy. Of course, the main difference is that you attend sessions from the comfort of your own home. To get the same effect as you would in a physical office, we recommend you find a time and location where you feel comfortable sharing openly and honestly. Our platform is completely secure and confidential, and provides a seamless video connection. While virtual therapy may take some adjusting to, it ultimately prioritizes your convenience, privacy, and comfort.   

Man on computer at home

How Long You’ll Be in Therapy 

The therapy process is entirely individualized and personal. However, myself and other substance use experts generally recommend engaging in online alcohol therapy for at least one year. In this time, your body and mind have the time they need to recover from past unhealthy alcohol use, and you can crystalize healthy habits into lifelong routines. You can read more about the alcohol recovery timeline to understand what you might expect physically and emotionally. 

I also always recommend consistency. Regular therapy sessions produce the best results. You can progress steadily, without having to fill in any blanks. When things feel good, that’s a sign that therapy is working and to stick with it. With time, you can make the decision to meet with your therapist less frequently. You and your therapist will work together to decide if and when tapering down is the right step for you. Here’s an FAQ about the difference between weekly and biweekly therapy

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Changing your relationship with alcohol is an incredible act of self-care, but it can be difficult to navigate alone. Therapy offers a dedicated space to work on your goals with a specialized professional. Your therapist will champion you throughout the entire process, as your goals are their goals too. Remember, beginning online alcohol therapy is an accomplishment in itself. This journey is yours to discover, one session at a time.

Disclaimer: Our articles and resources do not constitute clinical or licensed therapy or other health care services. If you need counseling or therapy services please contact a licensed provider. If this is a medical emergency, call 911.

taking notes to a video call

How To Get The Most Out Of Your Therapy Sessions

taking notes to a video call

If you’re reading this article, you’re likely considering, or have already started a therapy program. With over a decade of experience as a therapist, I know firsthand that engaging in therapy is an incredibly effective way to care for your mental health. Moreover, research shows that therapy is a powerful tool for changing your relationship with alcohol. Therapy can help you:

Learn more about Monument’s online alcohol therapy options.

As impactful as therapy can be, it’s also possible to unknowingly deprive yourself of its full benefit. This is because therapy is most effective under the right conditions, and with steady dedication. Throughout the course of my practice, I’ve noted how patients can take full advantage of their sessions and truly flourish. Here are five tips for getting the most out of therapy.  

Be Intentional When Scheduling

Many people assume therapy is just another appointment on the calendar, when in reality scheduling can significantly affect your ability to fully show up for your session (and yourself). Try to find a time where you are able to be fully present, aren’t rushing to and from the session, and aren’t watching the clock. Almost always, we need some time to process, note-take, or simply breathe after therapy. It can be difficult to flip a switch and go right back into the world. Give yourself this extra time, and you will find yourself getting more out of each session by giving yourself space to reflect.  

person on computer

Make Sure It’s A Fit


It’s important you feel comfortable with your therapist, and that you get along well with them. The truth is, not every therapist will be the right fit for you. Continuing to see a therapist who isn’t a good match means depriving yourself of the most beneficial therapy experience possible. Sensing a personality clash, feeling uncomfortable for whatever reason, or finding yourself “holding back” are all signs it might not be the right fit. If you don’t feel confident in the partnership, I encourage you to advocate for yourself and make the step to try somebody new. This is an understood part of the process, and the team at Monument will support you through it. Everybody wants you to have the best therapy experience possible. 

Managing your drinking through quarantine

Managing your drinking can be especially challenging during times of heightened stress and isolation. Join the discussion about how to moderate your drinking or stay sober through quarantine.
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Check In On Goals Regularly

Goals are central to the therapeutic process at Monument. When you first begin seeing your therapist, you will discuss your aspirations and create tangible objectives. They can help you form intentional, achievable goals. You and your therapist will then check in on your goals routinely, track your progress, and discuss how to continue working towards them. We grow the most when we’re aware of how far we’ve already come. It’s important that you are honest and engaged in this process, and initiate a conversation when you feel you both need to realign. Goals can change! And it’s important that you and your therapist are on the same page.

“I very much enjoyed the guidance I got from Cheryl. It’s the most concrete guidance I have had to date on how to take small steps to have amazing results. I’m so encouraged” Read more reviews here 

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Do The Work

Throughout your time with your therapist, they may provide takeaways or action items to complete before your next session. This may include completing a CPT (Cognitive Processing Therapy) handout, writing in a mood journal, attending a free, therapist moderated alcohol support group, creating a relapse plan, and other suggestions the therapist sees worthwhile. Writing down notes or using the Monument message feature throughout the week is another helpful way to track how the time went and prepare for your next meeting. Therapy is only a 45 minute session, so finding the time to do the work throughout the week is how we can start implementing change in our lives.

Remember That You Are The Focus

It can be so easy for us to deflect attention from ourselves and talk about family members, world events, and so much more during therapy. Of course there’s room in therapy to reflect on how these things impact us, but we miss out on talking about our own actions and aspirations. Progressing towards your goal requires a steady focus on yourself. Then with time, the work you do in therapy will have a ripple effect out into every area of your life. Unlike any other relationship, your therapist is a completely neutral party who is there solely to offer you support. And that’s something to take full advantage of.  

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I hope that with these insights in mind, you will be able to make the very most of your therapy experience. Therapy can be hard work — change isn’t always easy. But with dedication, you can implement lessons and skills from therapy and gradually transform yourself and your life. Every session is a new opportunity. While your journey is uniquely yours, you don’t have to face it alone.  

Disclaimer: Our articles and resources do not constitute clinical or licensed therapy or other health care services. If you need counseling or therapy services please contact a licensed provider. If this is a medical emergency, call 911.

desk

The Value (And Traps) Of Resolution Setting

desk

The New Year is a popular time to set out on making major life changes. Many of us resolve to work out consistently, change jobs, or quit alcohol. But New Year’s resolutions are notoriously difficult to fulfill, and the pressure surrounding them can sometimes do us more harm than good. As 2021 approaches, keep these insights in mind as we navigate another season of planning for the year ahead. 

Where Resolutions Fall Short 

Resolutions are hard to keep, but why? Here are some of the common traps we fall into when we make big resolutions: 

Start And End Dates Confine Us

Significant lifestyle changes often happen gradually, and are complete with many ups and downs. Resolutions, however, force a strict timeline on behaviors that are more productive when they’re ongoing and dynamic. Changing your relationship with alcohol, for example, might mean something different to you over time. Working toward sobriety is more than a start date on a calendar: it’s a continuous act of self-love. 

Perfection Stunts Progress 

Resolutions can impose an unnecessary amount of pressure on an already challenging goal. The high bar we set for ourselves can cause feelings of shame and guilt in the moments we can’t quite meet it. I often see patients make strict resolutions, and when they slip up, they abandon the essence of the goal altogether. We are only human, and can still make long-lasting lifestyle changes without a 100% success rate. 

Unrealistic Expectations Discourage Us

Another trap that eager resolution-makers can fall into is setting resolutions that are unsustainable or exceptionally hard to accomplish. Going to the gym every single day may last for a couple of weeks, but once burnout sets in, we’re discouraged from ever returning. Goals are completely possible to achieve when we go into them with a thoughtful and attainable plan, even if it means ramping up or taking baby steps. 

So if our resolutions consistently make us feel less-than, why are we drawn to them year after year? Because we want to continue to grow and evolve, and that’s an admirable aspiration. However it’s the idea behind resolutions, one of self-improvement and self-care, that’s worth holding onto. We should honor our desire to be our best selves. Instead of making unattainable resolutions, setting intentional and manageable goals is how we’ll get there. 

desk

How Goal-Setting Enables Change 

While New Year’s resolutions can leave us feeling unaccomplished, goal setting can pick up the slack. Realistic goals help us work on our behavior and become the best version of ourselves. Writing our goals down is a highly effective way to identify what we want to change. Goal-setting can also encourage us to look back at the past, and honestly reflect with ourselves. The key is to not let pressure and unrealistic expectations cloud our goal-setting. Here are my tips for setting goals that set us up for success in the new year, and beyond. 

Don’t Skimp on Self-Compassion

Changing our drinking habits, or workout routine, or profession, can be really challenging. If it wasn’t hard, we would already be doing it! In order to succeed, we need to understand that we will make mistakes, and we need to be able to practice compassion in those moments. Try not to be too critical of yourself, especially when you fall short. Take stock of how far you’ve come, adjust your short-term goal, and move forward. Accept that it’s going to be a process, not a test you have to ace. 

Managing your drinking through quarantine

Managing your drinking can be especially challenging during times of heightened stress and isolation. Join the discussion about how to moderate your drinking or stay sober through quarantine.
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Be Intentional When Setting Your Goal 

Make sure your goal is something you believe in, and have the power to achieve. Break up your goals into the short and long term, and formulate a plan for each goal that is within your reach. It can be helpful to pursue this with a therapist, who can work with you to set intentions and create a plan. You may also feel pressure to have the same resolutions as your peers. While having support is essential, remember that everybody’s goals and values look different. Something that may be a realistic short-term goal for a friend may make more sense as a long-term goal for you, and there’s nothing wrong with that. 

Look At The Big Picture 

Assigning numbers to our goals is an easy way to get discouraged. Keep your goals flexible and cultivate a broad understanding of what you want to achieve in the coming year and beyond. To have a healthier relationship with alcohol is an overarching, achievable goal that leaves room for adjustment. As opposed to a list of resolutions, consider opting for a vision board, collection of mantras, or other visual reminders. These tools will help steer you toward your aspirations as you navigate all the unpredictability a year can bring. 

sunset hang

Use All Of The Tools Available 

Whatever your personal goals may be, you’re more likely to achieve them with support. There are others who want you to succeed, have similar ambitions, and can help you on your path. At Monument, you are not alone in your goal to change your drinking. I encourage you to get and give support at one of our online therapist-moderated alcohol support groups. You can join with your camera on or off, and you’ll never be called on to speak. Explore how Monument can help you with medication to stop drinking, and alcohol therapy treatment. You have tools in your toolkit, and you should use them. We’re here for you. .  

After all of the additional uncertainty, stress, and pain this year has brought, maybe you decide to take resolutions off the table entirely, and that’s perfectly okay. The New Year can often feel like a fresh start: but you always have the power to decide to make a change. Goal-setting, big and small, is an empowering way to transform your life. When we nurture ourselves as we work on our goals, it’s amazing just how much we are capable of. 

Disclaimer: Our articles and resources do not constitute clinical or licensed therapy or other health care services. If you need counseling or therapy services please contact a licensed provider. If this is a medical emergency, call 911.

Tips for Managing Your Relationship with Alcohol While Social Distancing

If you’re struggling to control your drinking while social distancing, you are not alone.

Recent reports show that online alcohol sales were up 243% at the end of March, suggesting that drinking as a coping mechanism is on the upswing.

From job insecurity and working from home to the pressure of “being productive” and processing the complex emotions that come along with this time of uncertainty, adjusting to this new normal can be (understandably) overwhelming. The temptation to rely on or revert to unhealthy habits might also be stronger than usual which is why it’s more important than ever to lean into your online alcohol treatment.

But here’s the thing: you can get through this without drinking.

As a licensed therapist, here are some of the most common questions I’m asked about how to control your drinking through quarantine, and some tools you can start using today.

1. What is your advice for someone struggling to control their alcohol consumption during isolation?

  • Coming up with a daily routine is key. When we’re feeling out of our element and have a lot of free time, our minds can begin to wander into unhealthy zones. Having a schedule gives you something to follow and keeps you on track with your goals.
  • Start by practicing good sleep hygiene. Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day has a tremendously positive effect on energy level and mood throughout the day.
  • Make sure you’re having regular meals, too. Similar to being “hangry,” hunger can mimic the feeling of alcohol cravings or even alcohol withdrawal symptoms.
  • Drink plenty of water. Something as simple as hydration enhances not only physical wellbeing but mental health as well.
  • Create a list of people on your ‘support team.’ Jot down the best way to reach out to each of them. Having a physical list is important because when we’re struggling, unfortunately our brains do not default to healthy coping skills. Having those names on an easy-to-find list eliminates that hurdle when we’re experiencing heightened stress — and makes it all the more likely it will be utilized.
  • Get outside! Feeling grounded in nature, getting a breath of fresh air, and putting your bare feet on the grass are all great ways to boost your mood.

2. What are some helpful ways to reduce the anxiety and stress that people are experiencing at this time?

  • Discover or rediscover hobbies. Repetitive activities like coloring, jogging, or gardening can be especially helpful in calming anxiety.
  • Exercise. Thirty minutes of movement has been shown to lower anxiety and stress, while releasing the body’s feel-good endorphins. A quick walk around your neighborhood, an online HIIT class, or a solo dance party in your living room — whatever gets your heart rate up and feels good to you.

3. What’s your advice on staying connected when feeling alone, anxious, or bored?

  • Reach out to your list of supporters! People may not realize you’re struggling unless you tell them, so it’s your responsibility to make the effort. This is especially true now that others can’t gauge your emotional state because they’re not seeing you face-to-face.
  • Create virtual connections. Play games with your friends or online players to pass the time and build a feeling of togetherness.
  • Join the community at MonumentOur community is a great place to find, connect with, and learn from others who might be facing similar challenges.

4. How can someone participate in virtual happy hours without feeling obligated to drink?

The first thing to know is that if you don’t feel comfortable, you aren’t obligated to attend, and it is 100% OK not to go. When possible, suggest alternatives like a virtual game night or shared online class, so that you can connect with others in a way that feels right for you. If you do feel comfortable, prepare your own beverage (e.g. soda, water or tea) ahead of time to keep you grounded and your hands occupied. This is also a great tool for when in-person meetings and hangouts resume.

If you have any other questions for me, feel free to leave them in the comments, and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible. You can also find me responding to comments and posting in the Monument Community.

Remember, this is a traumatic time for many people. If you’re managing your ordinary routine, you are doing enough. We can get through this together.

Disclaimer: Our articles and resources do not constitute clinical or licensed therapy or other health care services. If you need counseling or therapy services please contact a licensed provider. If this is a medical emergency, call 911.