Reviewing CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy)

Reviewing CBT

Cognitive behavioral therapy teaches a person how to manage stress and recognize harmful thoughts

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a scientifically proven form of therapeutic counseling that teaches a person valuable life skills. This form of talk therapy is so effective because it counteracts a person’s natural tendency to dwell on negative thoughts and teaches positive self-talk that helps a person reach personal goals, such as sobriety.

Understanding CBT

CBT was developed by psychotherapist Aaron Beck in the 1960’s, according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). It combines two forms of therapy, cognitive therapy and behavior therapy, in a cohesive method that gives a person the ability to tie healthy thoughts to positive actions. During CBT patients are encouraged to build a positive self-image and limit negative thoughts as a way to change undesirable behaviors. Therapists work with patients to identify self-defeating thoughts.

When a person undergoes CBT, the therapist and patient work together to identify common messages the person tells himself. A common way to identify harmful thought patterns is through a journal that includes regular entries throughout the day. For example, a person with an addiction may unconsciously believe she needs drugs to make it through the day. By examining journal entries, a therapist points out this erroneous belief and then suggests alternatives to successfully manage a day.

Structure of CBT

There are many forms of CBT, according to the National Association of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapists. Unlike other types of therapy, CBT lasts for a defined number of sessions. The average number of sessions across all forms of CBT is 16, making the therapy more rapidly effective than other options. A major reason CBT achieves faster results is its use of homework. Patients must actively work with the therapist to achieve their goals.

Common forms of CBT include Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy, Rational Behavior Therapy, Rational Living Therapy, Cognitive Therapy and Dialectic Behavior Therapy.

Using CBT for a Lifetime

Therapists should also work to achieve real empathy with patients by understanding what the patient experiences. As the therapist and patient work together, the therapist should offer guidance about ways to build positive thoughts, such as by looking for alternate explanations to negative feelings.

For example, a person may believe his friends do not appreciate him, but taking a look at the facts may offer other explanations for their behavior.

CBT and Addiction Treatment

There are many behavior patterns associated with addiction that respond well to CBT, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). The technique helps a person learn to control problem behaviors that lead to substance abuse and helps her identify other factors that led to addiction, such as anxiety or stress.

Some specific ways that CBT helps with addictive behaviors include the following, according to NIDA:

  • Helps the patient explore the positive and negative consequences of continued drug use
  • Teaches techniques for self-monitoring that help the patient recognize early onset cravings
  • Works with patient to identify situations that could put her at risk for substance use
  • Develops coping strategies for handling cravings and avoiding high-risk situations

Research shows people remember the skills learned during CBT long after the sessions end. Another advantage is that patients also learn how to cope with any co-occurring mental health disorders.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) or other forms of behavioral therapy help an addicted individual identify dangerous triggers that lead to taking the drug as well as help develop more positive attitudes in general.

The marriage of cognitive and behavioral management techniques makes CBT suitable to treat a wide range of conditions, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

CBT is also effective in conjunction with other therapies. For example, it is important for people to be fully engaged in addiction treatment to ensure the best outcomes. As a first step in the process of engagement, a counselor may use motivational interviewing, a process that helps a person make goals for herself and challenges feelings of ambivalence about treatment. This is a perfect lead in to CBT and other techniques that dramatically transform a person’s life.

Need Help Finding Addiction Treatment?

Addiction treatment must care for the whole person, mentally, physically and spiritually. Because treatment is a highly individualized experience, it’s crucial for staff members to be aware of individual needs, such as any mental health symptoms. While addictions can be serious, there are many effective treatments to help a person cope with the effects of the disease, including CBT.

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, please call our toll-free number. Our admissions coordinators are trained to offer advice and provide guidance about the best possible treatment options. We help people overcome addictions with a philosophy that addresses the whole person. Call our toll-free number 24 hours a day for advice. Don’t struggle alone; call us today.