Substance use disorder (SUD) treatment often utilizes individual and group therapy. Extroverts may have no difficulty speaking up and sharing their opinions or experiences. However, introverts can easily feel out of place, embarrassed, or judged by others. Communication is essential during recovery, and some introverts may struggle with that aspect of treatment. According to Patient Communication In Substance Abuse Disorders, “Proper communication allows patients to be more knowledgeable about their prognosis and to be more proactive in seeking assistance.” Newport Beach Recovery Center offers a range of treatments to ensure clients feel comfortable communicating openly with our care team.

Coping With Therapy as an Introvert

Not everyone feels comfortable discussing their experiences, thoughts, and beliefs with strangers. Many introverts shy away from sharing embarrassing or incriminating details about past events, and for them, therapy might feel threatening or intrusive.

Some introverts do the following to cope with anxiety or stress related to therapy:

  • Take regular breaks from talking to refocus
  • Utilize grounding techniques like deep breathing
  • Work through difficult discussions over the course of several sessions
  • Write down details instead of sharing them verbally

Co-occurring disorders often worsen symptoms, and introverts with mental health issues might feel misunderstood, alienated, or isolated from peers. The care team at Newport Beach Recovery Center uses a resiliency-focused approach to ensure clients feel safe and accepted during therapy sessions.

5 Ways Introverts Can Communicate Effectively During Therapy

Below are five ways introverts can effectively communicate with their therapist during sessions. We encourage people to use whatever methods help them get the most out of each session.

#1 Take Things One Step at a Time

You may feel easily overwhelmed by new settings, people, or situations. At first, you might want to avoid being vulnerable with a therapist. Take things one step at a time. Focus on getting to your appointment and then introducing yourself. Express your hesitation to the therapist. Your therapist will walk you through the healing process at a pace that keeps you moving forward slowly and comfortably. You shouldn’t feel pressured to open up about certain topics before you’re ready.

#2 Use Grounding Techniques to Avoid Triggers

Triggers can affect your ability to communicate effectively. Moments of extreme stress in public spaces often overwhelm introverts. You might get triggered during sessions and feel unable to continue. Grounding techniques will help you cope and manage side effects.

Many people use the following grounding techniques during treatment sessions:

  • Physical grounding using textures (e.g., touching your clothes or bringing a stim toy or other item with a unique texture)
  • Focusing briefly on the five senses and mentally or verbally listening to what you hear, see, taste, feel, and smell
  • Completing several deep breathing techniques
  • Focusing on specific items within the room and mentally or verbally describing their appearance and function

These activities can help you stay present in the moment. You might feel more capable of emotionally regulating by grounding yourself.

#3 Establish Clear Boundaries

Forcing yourself to keep talking when you feel emotionally or physically exhausted can lead to negative therapy experiences. Effective communication sometimes means knowing when to take a short break. Your therapist can help you establish communication boundaries to improve your mental health. You can also establish safe words to relay to your therapist when you’re getting close to your boundaries and when you’ve hit a hard stopping point.

#4 Practice Body Language and Nonverbal Communication

Therapists observe body language and take cues from the client. You can express your feelings about various topics during sessions by using body language and other forms of nonverbal communication.

Your therapist may look for the following when monitoring your body language:

  • Tensed muscles
  • Shorter or quicker breathing
  • Closed expression
  • Folded arms
  • Speech pattern changes

Closed body language is an excellent way to alert your therapist that you do not feel comfortable discussing specific topics. Additionally, you and your therapist can implement certain ASL signs. “Stop,” “no,” “yes,” and emotion words can help when you feel too overwhelmed to speak out loud.

#5 Engage in More Social Interactions

Engaging in positive social interactions frequently can increase your confidence, thereby improving your communication. According to a study published in Frontiers in Psychology, “[I]ntroverts with high social engagement have higher self-esteem than introverts with low social engagement.” Group therapy and peer interactions during community activities can improve your social skills and ability to communicate during therapy.

Overcoming Shyness and Uncertainty as an Introvert

You can overcome shyness, embarrassment, fear, and uncertainty by finding ways to improve your confidence. Once you find techniques that work for you, therapy sessions will feel less intimidating. Being shy does not have to stop you from taking full advantage of individual and group therapy sessions. You can collaborate with the therapist and your care team to find healthy solutions and resolve issues.

People can work through shyness or hesitancy during therapy sessions in the following ways:

  • Treat the therapist as a friend
  • Try to avoid stimulating activities, drinks, or foods directly before therapy
  • Be kind to yourself
  • Set realistic expectations for therapy sessions

Therapy is an essential tool, and being able to take advantage of it will help you achieve and sustain long-term sobriety. In many cases, individuals with SUD benefit from therapy during aftercare and ongoing recovery. Newport Beach Recovery Center uses evidence-based methods to develop essential life skills like effective communication.

Introverts often feel overwhelmed, shy, or uncertain about having deeply personal conversations in public. During rehabilitation, individual and group therapy sessions are essential to treatment. Some introverts might not feel comfortable talking to someone they do not know about highly personal things like substance abuse, family dynamics, and beliefs about recovery. However, there are things you can do as an introvert to decrease stress during therapy. You can find alternative ways to communicate your needs and get to know your therapist better. Having a more personal connection can reduce anxiety for introverts. Newport Beach Recovery Center makes it easy for clients to build rapport with our therapists. To learn more about our programs and services, call (888) 850-0363.