Dr. Daniel Selling, the Director of the Williamsburg Therapy Group, is an expert in the field of addiction, having created the largest jail-based inpatient substance abuse treatment program in the country here in New York City. Since its founding in date, the Williamsburg Therapy Group has grown to include 22 doctoral-level providers, including both psychiatrists and psychologists. Our Brooklyn-based staff specialize in addiction, medication management, individual and group psychotherapy, and neuropsychological assessment.
Over the years, we have worked to provide mental health care to our community. Many of the people we have encountered have struggled with both mental health issues and addiction, often referred to as dual diagnosis. The Program at the Williamsburg Therapy Group is unique in that we have long specialized in providing individual and group psychotherapy, as well as individual substance use treatment. This project is a new evolution of our Groups mission to help people who are dual diagnosed make long-lasting changes and find emotional wellness. Our hope in creating the Program was to develop a structured, supportive, and effective treatment program specifically designed to respond to the unique challenges encountered in addiction in New York City so that people can make impactful and sustainable changes.
The Program at Williamsburg Therapy Group is an intensive treatment program designed to help people struggling with addiction. Because addiction can deeply impact all areas of life, the Program was designed to provide a higher level of care than individual outpatient treatment so that people who are dual diagnosed can receive a more intensive treatment that helps them quickly make changes in a format that fits in with daily life.
This treatment structure helps us provide individually tailored support, as well as practical skills, healing, and a sense of community to help people make deep, concrete, and sustainable changes towards wellness.
At the Program, we recognize that the motivation to change substance use is complicated. Even if someone is not sure about what they want, we provide a safe supportive space so that a person can explore what it might be like to consider a life without the influence of addiction. Because addiction is different for each person, we believe that the foundation of treatment is thoughtfully listening and collaborating with clients. This means helping people find directions that are personally relevant and take realistic steps for making long lasting changes. This includes providing support, even when someone experiences mixed feelings about changing their relationship with substances.
The Program creates space for clients to talk about reasons why they might want to change, values that are important to them, their goals for the future, and relationships that they want to repair and protect. Motivational Interviewing MI and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy ACT are two approaches that we use to respect peoples individual choices while creating a nonjudgmental space to explore new ways to imagine the future. Motivational Interviewing is an approach that deeply respects a persons autonomy to make their own decisions, while also focusing discussion on imagining and exploring the benefits of a life without addiction. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy is an approach that helps people identify things that are important to them and begin creating a life consistent with these values. By becoming more psychologically flexible, a person can better adapt to the world around them and move forward towards their goals.
A central focus of the Williamsburg Therapy Groups approach has been its focus on helping people make real changes through the combination of supportive therapy and practical skills. The Program uses Relapse Prevention, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy CBT, and Dialectical Behavior Therapy DBT to teach clients a wide variety of practical ways to identify behaviors and mindsets that can keep people stuck repeating unhealthy patterns. Relapse prevention is a skills-based approach to helping people learn ways to transition away from addiction. These skills include ways to raise awareness of behaviors and situations that increase risk of returning to substances, how to build new habits that strengthen a persons ability to prioritize wellness, and strategies to make wise decisions instead of impulsivity or reliance on substances.
Substance use often serves the purpose of providing relief for many of life stressors and pains. For a while, substance use can feel like a helpful way to cope with overwhelming and painful experiences, or as a way to experience pleasure and excitement. As a person begins to use substances more intensely, frequently, and with less restraint, addiction begins to negatively impact a persons life. While relapse prevention directly addresses addiction behaviors, skills-based treatments including CBT and DBT help people deepen these changes by learning new alternatives for coping with pain and increasing joy in fulfilling and sustainable ways, such as learning to soothe emotional pain, reaching out for support, and practicing habits to protect their physical health. These approaches have been widely demonstrated to help people make concrete changes in substance use, as well as a wide variety of related struggles, including self-esteem, relationships, anxiety, depression, and anger. When people learn and master practical skills, they can build confidence and optimism.
Each week at the Program includes two hours of mindfulness, which is the skill of raising awareness of thoughts, physical sensations, and emotions. Building mindfulness helps people build connections with themselves and the world around them, and helps gain clarity about values important to them. Mindfulness is a core skill of CBT based treatments and helps increase a persons awareness of thoughts, emotions, and triggers so that they can respond thoughtfully and wisely in risky situations.
Because addiction can be such an isolating experience and causes damage to relationships with family and friends, the largest part of the program is dedicated to creating a sense of community through group support. Struggles with addiction are notorious for risk of relapse and feeling discouraged. We believe in creating sustainable structures and support to help people not only make initial changes but also maintain habits that help them reduce risk and stay connected. By creating a safe, intimate, and relatable forum for people to talk about their addiction experiences, they can begin to create a new sense of community and connection that is essential for weaving a healthy network of support as they navigate a life without substances.
When a person completes the program, they have the option of continuing treatment at Williamsburg therapy group. This helps create a sustainable source of mental health support and community for people to continue exploring issues related to emotional health and to keep maintaining positive changes.
The ultimate goal of the Program is to help people achieve results and sustain change. To do this, we believe it is our responsibility to thoroughly understand and constantly improve how we provide support to our clients. From a clients first contact with the program, we identify areas that they want to improve and track progress so that we can collaborate and tailor treatment to that individuals specific struggles.
To ensure that treatment is truly tailored to each person, clients enrolled in the program will receive two hours of individual therapy per week. This is to find ways to apply the general skills and strategies learned in group in ways that are specific and most useful to them. Individual therapy can also serve as a safe, private space for clients to explore other factors that interact with addiction, including past trauma, relationships, identity, and emotional health.
To address the dysregulation and damage that substances have on physical health, the Program also includes one hour per week of body-based holistic treatments, including acupuncture, reiki, yoga, and massage therapy. This is designed to help clients repair and cherish the relationships that they have with their own bodies and use physical awareness to help them continue making healthful choices.