Treatment Methods

Team of Licensed & Certified Professionals

The most important component of our program is our team of highly effective addiction specialists. Programs are administered by a team of professionals, many of whom are master’s-level clinicians with substance use disorder treatment experience. Our team utilizes evidence-based modalities during individual therapy, group therapy, and life skills classes.


Relapse Prevention Therapy

Teaching individuals how to prevent a potential relapse, and respond to an actual relapse, is an essential part of substance abuse treatment. We use relapse prevention  therapy to help clients understand the relapse process, identify core issues and triggering situations, manage urges, and strengthen their recovery, rather than experience a possible setback.


Addiction Education

Understanding the underpinnings of addiction is a key part of the First Step House therapeutic process.  First Step House understands that addiction is a complex chronic health issue similar to diabetes or heart disease. We teach clients the contributing factors of family history, biology, genetics, the environment in which they were raised, and the various ways in which drugs interact with the brain and body.  


Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy

Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy (REBT), Developed by the late Albert Ellis, is the basis for the First Step House process groups and has been widely used in the therapeutic profession for over 50 years.  REBT helps people identify and correct their irrational beliefs so they can learn more effective and rational emotional coping. Some First Step House therapists have received training and certification from the Albert Ellis Institute in New York City.


Moral Reconation Therapy

Moral Reconation Therapy (MRT) is the premier treatment modality for individuals who are mandated to complete treatment because of legal involvement resulting from high-risk and antisocial behaviors.  Designed to help individuals make pro-social decisions based on an empathetic understanding of others, MRT teaches clients through homework and group process over a 16-module course.  Many First Step House therapists are certified to teach this effective form of treatment.


Shame Resiliency

The Daring Way™ curriculum is a promising practice developed by Brene Brown. This curriculum  has been successfully used for many years to help clients recognize shame, test their conceptions with reality, and practice empathy so they can constructively move through shameful self-thought, rather than choosing destructive behavioral to manage difficult emotions. Clients learn to challenge beliefs around vulnerability, which allows them to begin building healthier connections and relationships in recovery. Outside of class, clients learn to focus on managing destructive anger outbursts, manipulation, people-pleasing, and the withdrawing and isolative behaviors that are based in shame and lead to continued use of substances, broken relationships and maladaptive choices.


Grief and Loss

A life of addictive behaviors is often correlated to a life filled with grief and loss.  Our counselors use material taken from multiple sources including, Grief Work Healing from Loss by Frank Zamore and Ester Leutenberg to learn about various stages of grief so they can begin to talk about difficult emotions that are often suppressed though substance abuse.  Clients also learn about and begin to dispute the myths around grief,  and guilt is introduced as a behavioral motivator rather than an unhealthy negative emotion. Clients learn about moral injury and empathy is taught and practiced in the class to support connection and healthy communication skills. Over approximately 8 weeks, clients focus on increasing awareness of emotional responses, needs around grief and loss to encourage and support healthier behaviors around difficult emotions rather than using substances, avoiding emotion, and acting in anger as many clients have done for years.


Dialectic Behavior Therapy

Dialectic Behavior Therapy (DBT) is a cognitive behavioral therapy created to target specific emotional skill deficits. There are four modules of DBT: mindfulness, interpersonal effectiveness, emotion regulation, and distress tolerance. DBT combines in class role-plays as well as weekly homework to help clients integrate these skills into their daily lives. Each module targets specific behaviors to decrease and increase, both of which are tracked through diary cards. DBT has been proven to be highly effective in treating some of the emotional difficulties found in people with specific personality and substance use disorders.


Client-Counselor Alliance

Partnering clients with the right therapists is one of our primary concerns. Having a strong therapeutic rapport is essential to the recovery process and greatly improves the chances of long-term success. Upon admission, the Clinical Director reviews each client’s assessment with the admissions team and selects a staff member who provides customized care and oversees all aspects of treatment.  This selection pairs a client, based on his needs, with the clinician whose traits compliment the client’s personality, history, and diagnosis.


Motivational Interviewing

Many clients are skeptical about the changes treatment will bring to their daily routines. We truly believe in every individual’s ability to change and improve. We use motivational interviewing and enhancement techniques to help resolve ambivalent feelings toward treatment and create motivation to help sustain long-term recovery.


Education and Employment

For most clients, we place a strong emphasis on education and employment. Our program partners with the Department of Workforce Services and Vocational Rehabilitation to provide employment counseling and job training. We also work with the Horizonte Instructional Training Center to offer GED education and testing for high school graduation.


Medication Assisted Treatment

While we strongly encourage clients to maintain abstinence from all mind-altering substances, we are aware of the emerging science that supports the use of various medications to assist clients in their recovery.  Vivitrol, Suboxone, and other medications have demonstrated efficacy in not just helping clients with withdrawal symptoms, but maintaining long-term abstinence from alcohol and illicit drug use. First Step House will work with clients and our community partners, such as Project Reality, when is appropriate for the client. These determinations are made on a case-by-case basis.


Assumption of Personal Responsibility

Understanding the importance of personal responsibility is a key step in our program. Our therapists give clients the opportunity to make decisions and accept the consequences and rewards of those decisions.  Consequences and rewards are delivered using gradually increasing sanctions and decreasing external rewards in order to help clients make decisions from an internal locus rather than basing their decisions on external factors.