Most people’s awareness of rehab is abstract or comes from Hollywood movies that simplify and distort the experience. But rehab is a highly structured experience, and there are deeply researched psychological reasons for each element and activity in their daily schedule.

Even the idea of a regular rehab schedule is important, as it allows each participant to train themselves to follow a predictable routine. This ability to settle into a comfortable flow of events allows the client to orient themselves in relation to their new circumstances, reducing their anxiety and giving them extra opportunity to focus on the task at hand.

While rehab centers around the world do vary in their approach to treatment, an effort is generally made to use a set of mutually reinforcing psychological techniques that complement each other for a better chance of recovery. Typically these sessions are scheduled as part of a regular weekly schedule, allowing each client to plan ahead and anticipate the sessions to come.

Re-establishing a positive routine

Rehab centers offer help at all hours, but their efforts depend on each client’s willingness to take positive steps forward. This begins with keeping responsible hours – an early wake-up, followed by a day of treatments and activities, and then back to sleep at a reasonable hour.

Therapy sessions can be organized as 1-on-1 meetings with a professional psychologist, where personal and focused exercises can help clients come to terms with their condition and build the mental resources needed to move forward. Group sessions are also available and bring different sets of advantages, as peers share their stories and struggles in front of others who are also trying to reclaim a positive lifestyle for themselves.

Group sessions can lead to deep and supportive friendships among peers within the rehab program. Clients may find they have much in common with each other and feel less alone in their struggles. They may also hang out with each other outside of their therapy sessions, helping each other on their way towards a better life.

Therapy sessions tend to be designed around particular psychological approaches to promoting well-being. One common approach is through cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), where clients learn to recognize negative thought patterns as they arise, and then redirect them towards more positive channels. Other forms of behavioural therapy may include tension and trauma-releasing exercise (TRE), medical hypnosis, or a range of other approaches.

Many rehab centers also recognize that various other types of wellness activities can have a positive effect on recovery, by engaging the body, mind and spirit on fulfilling games and exercises. For example, The Dawn, a rehab in Thailand, has daily wellness sessions including massages and spa treatments, and weekly getaways in the surrounding Chiang Mai countryside. Other rehab centers regularly offer meditation sessions or art classes.

The main aim is to treat each client on a personal level, which involves more than merely addressing the condition they are suffering from. Through structured and well-planned routines for recovery, clients can indeed find a more satisfying pathway for living, where they are happy and fully in control of their own futures.

About the Author

Chris Jansen works at The Dawn, a leading alcohol-, drug- and mental health rehab located in the lush countryside of Chiang Mai, Thailand.