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Matrix Model: Structuring Addiction Therapy

Therapy is the cornerstone of rehab. Although detox gets clients physically stable in a clean state, they usually aren’t psychologically equipped to maintain that state. Relapse looms on the horizon for those who do not work on a comprehensive therapy program. Many different modalities for treating addiction exist. One of the most successful methods is called the Matrix Model, which combines several types of therapy into a long term approach outpatient (IOP) care. So what makes the Matrix Model work?

Matrix Model

Matrix Model Devotes Time to Treatment

As the cliche goes: recovery is a marathon, not a sprint. The most successful approach to addiction therapy spans over a long period of time so the drivers of addiction can be addressed. The Matrix Model works because it’s an optimum length for intensive outpatient: 16 weeks, or about 4 months. This can be extended up to 12 through continuing care/aftercare. This form of IOP is structured differently than inpatient treatment.

  • The Matrix Model is less “in your face”
  • Progress can be gradual
  • Sessions don’t immediately dive into core issues
  • Focus is on the present
  • A non-judgmental attitude is the basis for the client-therapist bond
  • Changes are incorporated immediately into client’s lifestyle

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Focusing on Behavior, Not Generalities

The Matrix Model works because it’s more directive and behavior-focused than general therapy. While inpatient does great with focusing clients on the motivations behind their problematic actions, IOP has the advantage of “immediate gratification,” so to speak. Changes in behavior can be applied right away because clients are already integrated into the real world. The Matrix Model encourages personal responsibility by focusing on behavior rather than feelings.

  • Visit frequency results in strong transference, which is encouraged and utilized
  • Goal is stability versus comfort
  • Focus is abstinence; bottom-line is always continued abstinence
  • Therapeutic team approach is utilized
  • Therapist frequently pursues less motivated clients
  • Focus is on behavior rather than feelings; the behavior is more important than the reason behind it
  • Family system support is encouraged
  • Therapist functions as a coach/advocate

It’s proven effective. The organizing principles of the Matrix have been developed and modified over a 20 year period, using data from the treatment experience of 6,000 cocaine and 2,500 methamphetamine addicts. The Matrix Model works because it creates explicit structure and expectations from the group. Therapists establish a positive, collaborative relationship with each client while teaching them cognitive-behavioral concepts.

Reinforcing the Recovery Lifestyle

Therapists also positively reinforce good behavior changes, while providing corrective feedback when necessary. The Matrix Model introduces and encourages self-help participation so eventually clients successfully adopt a lifestyle of recovery. Finally, most programs use urinalysis to monitor drug use and take the issue of use off the table.

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It’s evidence-based. The Matrix Model is evidence-based and has over 20 years of research and development. It was recently tested in the CSAT Methamphetamine Project, the largest randomized clinical trial of treatment of methamphetamine addiction to date. Clients assigned to the Matrix Model attended more groups, stayed in treatment longer, provided more clean drug tests during treatment, and had longer periods of abstinence.