Intensive psychotherapy for addiction: What is it?

What happens during a session of intensive psychotherapy for addiction? Should you wait until you’ve gotten some time under your belt…or jump right into intensive therapy in early recovery? These and more Q&A in an exclusive interview with Laura Longville, LAC. More here.

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Intensive psychotherapy: Is it right for you (right now)?

Today, we speak with behavioral health therapist, trainer, speaker and life coach, Laura Longville (LAC) about the role of intensive therapy for addiction. Laura has worked as a therapist for over 29 years and has been running intensive sessions with people for 10 years. We’ve asked her questions like:

  • What is Intensive Psychotherapy?
  • When is Intensive Psychotherapy appropriate in the recovery process?
  • What are some of the best practices in running intensive sessions?

Laura is dedicated to help people in addiction recovery by custom designing individualized intensives, retreats and workshops. This is because each person has unique needs and goals. More here about the role of  intensive psychotherapy for addiction and how this treatment help people in understanding their own purpose. At the end, we invite you to share your thoughts and questions on this topic in the comments section below.

ADDICTION BLOG: What is Intensive Psychotherapy and how can it be applied to an individual suffering from a substance use disorder?  

LAURA LONGVILLE: Intensive Psychotherapy includes multiple consecutive days of therapy. The ideal Intensive is 4-5 days in length which includes 6-7 hours of therapy. An Intensive allows the client(s) to press through difficult and challenging issues.
I design the experience to the specific needs of the client.

Clients are not always able to commit to 4-5 consecutive days due to work, location or finances. As an alternative, I provide a 1 day intensive, meeting monthly for 5-6 months or a 2 day intensive quarterly for couples counseling. I can be very creative in designing an intensive to meet the unique needs of the client.

ADDICTION BLOG: Is an Intensive Psychotherapy like a retreat?

LAURA LONGVILLE: No. An Intensive is not like a retreat where you relax and unwind. Intensives are just like they sound, intense AND productive.

ADDICTION BLOG: What should we bring with us if we schedule an Intensive away from home?  

LAURA LONGVILLE: It is very beneficial for the client to stay away from home as it allows the client to get away from home and work distractions or obligations. It is wise to dress comfortably and if we do outdoor activities such as Adventure or Equine Assisted Psychothrerapy you will be instructed to bring specific attire.

There are many places to stay if you do an intensive away from home. There are local hotels, bed and breakfast accommodations, or clients can stay at the home of someone they know.

ADDICTION BLOG: What can we expect in terms of daily routine?

LAURA LONGVILLE: The day starts at 9 am and we typically take a lunch break at noon. Our day is complete by 5 pm. All of these times are negotiable. All meals are at the clients expense.

ADDICTION BLOG: What are some of the best practices that you use during an Intensive Session?


  • Motivational Interviewing
  • Mindful Meditation
  • Psychodrama Therapy
  • Experiential Therapy
  • Adventure Psychotherapy
  • Equine Assisted Psychotherapy
  • Structured Couples Therapy
  • Family Therapy
  • 12 Step Groups

I always refer the client back to the referring therapist for important follow-up. If the client doesn’t have a therapist we work together to find a therapist for the client to work with following the Intensive.

ADDICTION BLOG: Do people typically engage in an Intensive individually, in couples, or in families?  

LAURA LONGVILLE: I have more couples and individuals commit to Intensives. I attribute this to that fact it can be very difficult to get all family members to committ to an Intensive at the same time.

ADDICTION BLOG: How much time does someone need to commit to Intensive Psychotherapy?  

LAURA LONGVILLE: Minimum one day of 6-7 hours to 4 days in length.

ADDICTION BLOG: Are Intensive Psychotherapy sessions better for people in longer term addiction recovery (2+ years) or for those in early recovery?

LAURA LONGVILLE: Most people are impacted by addiction at some level, so intensives are good for all people at any level of need. Intensives can be an intervention for those who are considering their addiction as a problem, for example. In addition, Intensives allow clients to continue looking at their lives. When someone completes a 4 day Intensive, it’s like they are getting 6 months of therapy at a time.

ADDICTION BLOG: What are some examples of goals that someone in addiction recovery can set when scheduling an Intensive session?

LAURA LONGVILLE: Here is a list of common goals for an Intensive.

GOAL 1:  Define how addiction is impacting the individual, family and other relationships.
GOAL 2:  Learn and utilize new coping and communication skills.
GOAL 3:  Address anger and grief.
GOAL 4:  Explore relationship challenges. Clarify relationship issues and choices. Co-addiction issues.
GOAL 5:  Explore spirituality.
GOAL 6:  Learn and practice goal setting.

….to name just a few.

ADDICTION BLOG: Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?

LAURA LONGVILLE: Intensives are a gift you can give to yourself and those you love. Intensives are good for people who are ready to jump in and address their problems and for those who can’t commit to weekly therapy.

For a therapist who counsels people on a weekly basis it can be helpful to refer the client(s) to an Intensive to press through the difficult and challenging issues. Since I do not provide weekly therapy or followup therapy, the client is always referred back to the referring therapist. For more information please contact Laura Longville, LAC at or6 05.381.9435.

About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.
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