What To Expect From Online Alcohol Therapy

By Holli F., LMHC and Operations at Monument

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 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, 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. 

Welcome to Monument: Orientation group

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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

woman on computer

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.

About the Author

Holli FiscusHolli is a licensed mental health counselor/licensed professional counselor in the state of NY and NJ with over 14 years of experience working in the field. She is passionate about helping others achieve their goals, and creating a safe place for that to be done. Her therapeutic approach is unique to you and your needs, often utilizing a mixture of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), mindfulness and acceptance.