Self-Destructive Behavior

Chicago Alcohol Counseling for Impulse Control Disorders

At what point does a "normal" behavior become self-destructive?

Self-destructive behaviors like problem gambling, shopping, self-injury, binging, gaming, and pornography feel different to the self-destructive user than they would to someone who has "normal" self-control.

For example, in the case of infidelity, it is normal for someone who is in a monogamous relationship to notice feelings of attraction to a co-worker, colleague, or friend. That person most often feels frustrated or annoyed by the attraction, but understands how it's normal to feel attracted to others even while being in a loving relationship. That person may even talk with their partner about the attraction and find humor in it.

If that possibility feels im-possible to you, then counseling can help. It's ok if you and your partner feel confused about your self-destructive behavior. Our experienced counselors understand how self-destructive behavior signals an unmet need. You can gain an understanding of the "why" behind your behavior in a way that moves you forward.

For someone who struggles with self-destructive behavior, sexual attraction to someone outside of the relationship feels extremely distressing.

Someone who struggles with an impulse control disorder feels overwhelming fantasies and urges to follow through on the attraction by pursuing an extra-marital encounter. Instead of having an affair, that person may begin to use pornography or patronize strip clubs in order to remain "faithful." The result is a spiral of shame and guilt. People who are overwhelmed by impulses and fantasies describe their attraction as taking over their lives, leading to behaviors they feel little control over.

Self-destructive gambling is similar.

We've worked with countless people who gamble in fantasy football go to casinos for "fun." Someone in the normal range of experiencing may have some wins or losses, or go to Las Vegas with a set amount of money that they're willing to lose. Once they lose that money, they quit.

For someone who has an impulse control disorder, however, the idea of quitting creates extreme anxiety. This is what leads to problematic gambling.

The problematic gambler becomes obsessed with the idea of winning lost money back. They tell themselves that gambling is all about skill, when, in actuality, the odds are stacked against them. They focus on the win at all costs, even as they slip deeper into the red zone and owe their bookie thousands of dollars.

Regain control over your behavior.

Our counselors help you understand the root causes of your self-destructive behavior so that you can cope with uncomfortable feelings and unhappiness. Counseling can help you break the cycle of suffering and loss. With strategies and tools, you can regain control over self-sabotage.

Counseling starts from a place of understanding the function of self-destructive behaviors, and how they can be replaced with healthy coping skills. Let's get started - call or text (312) 715-8234.

Counseling Techniques Used for Depression

We are trained in evidence-based approaches to help you find your direction and achieve your desired outcomes. Our treatment methods include:

Moderation Management

Moderation Management is an evidence-based approach for people with problem drinking behavior. It offers you the ability to choose strategies that work for you in your life. We work with you to set, reach, and maintain drinking reduction goals by providing personalized feedback on self-reported drinking behavior through behavioral self-control skills. Whereas traditional treatment programs focus on problem drinkers being powerless, Moderation Management is an approach that empowers you to make changes that fit with your values.

Motivational Interviewing (MI)

MI is an approach that places you front and center as the expert of your own life. Your counselor works with you to strengthen your inner motivation to change. MI allows the counseling session to become a productive space for developing a plan based on your own knowledge and strengths. Your counselor serves as a guide when you feel two ways about making the change, understanding that you are the one who controls what you ultimately do.

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)

ACT is an evidence-based form of cognitive behavior therapy that strategically helps you create the life you want to live. This happens by removing obstacles that are leaving you feeling stuck in a rut. ACT uses your personal values as the foundation of change.


Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is a multi-pronged approach involving groups and individual counseling. We offer DBT-informed individual counseling is an evolution of CBT that focuses on reducing the intensity of negative emotions. DBT-informed individual work goes beyond looking at negative thoughts to help you consider effective ways of relating to yourself and others. It helps you achieve feelings of calm and satisfaction.

Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT)

MBCT helps you alleviate feelings of depression and unhappiness. The approach of MBCT reduces overwhelming stress while enhancing your self-awareness. By combining mindfulness practice with cognitive therapy, MBCT encourages you to develop a new relationship with negative thoughts and feelings, restoring your energy so you can effectively manage your life.

Solution-Focused Brief Therapy (SFBT)

SFBT emphasizes solution building rather than problem-solving. Each session is driven by your goals and vision for the future. Instead of focusing on the negative, SFBT empowers you to mobilize the inner strengths, hidden abilities, and leadership qualities you already possess. SFBT is informed by your present and future, instead of rehashing the past. Building on your strengths is far more important than spending time talking about your weaknesses.

Harm Reduction

Harm reduction counseling is an evidence-based approach for people with a variety of high-risk behaviors. It offers you the ability to choose strategies that work for you in your life. We work with you to set, reach, and maintain healthy behaviors goals by providing personalized feedback and behavioral self-control skills. Whereas traditional treatment programs focus on drug users being powerless, harm reduction starts with the belief that you have the ability to make healthy choices.

If you want to break free of self-destructive behavior, contact us today to get started.