There are many therapy types that can address certain conditions and concerns that people have and offer ways to cope with those concerns. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is one of these therapies that is being utilized by treatment centers and independent therapists around the country. More people are using it in their recovery as it continues to reveal how extremely helpful it can be in treatment for addiction and mental illness.
What Is CBT?
Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a type of structured talk therapy—or psychotherapy—that helps clients become more aware of negative or false thoughts. In a limited number of sessions, CBT gives its patients a clearer perspective on the world around them. This helps them respond to negative situations in their lives in a more positive and effective way.
CBT can be used alongside other forms of therapy or on its own. It should be noted that not everyone who undergoes CBT has a mental health condition. Overall, the therapy helps you manage stressful life situations in a healthier manner.
What Mental Conditions Does CBT Help Treat?
- Anxiety disorders
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
- Sleep Disorders
- Sexual Disorders
- Eating Disorders
- Bipolar Disorder
What Are the Benefits of CBT?
CBT treats an extensive range of concerns and issues patients may have. In a fewer number of sessions than other therapies, it treats these concerns by quickly helping to identify and cope with the problems that are causing the patient distress. The therapy gives patients coping mechanisms to deal with stress and other negative situations. Another benefit is that CBT can help patients manage their emotions.
CBT can help prevent relapse in addiction recovery by managing the symptoms associated with mental illness that may trigger an addict. It teaches better communication skills and helps patients regulate their emotions. It can also help patients repair relationships, cope with grief or loss, cope with a medical illness, or aid in treating chronic physical symptoms. CBT has also been found to be successful in helping overcome emotional trauma such as abuse or violence.
How Does CBT Help With Addiction?
CBT most often treats those suffering from alcoholism, cocaine addiction, marijuana addiction, and methamphetamine addictions. It does this by helping addicts in recovery make connections between their emotions, thoughts, feelings, and actions and how they affect their overall recovery.
Since negative thoughts are often the primary cause of anxiety and depression, CBT treats these specifically. Anxiety and depression are common triggers for relapse, and CBT helps combat these. CBT helps patients understand that their negative thoughts are often false beliefs that lead them to drinking or using.
Learning coping mechanisms such as communication and managing triggers helps to improve a patient’s mood and motivation toward recovery. Managing triggers often comes in three steps:
- Recognizing triggers: In this step, the patient begins to understand and recognize the circumstances that led to their drug and/or alcohol addiction.
- Avoiding Triggers: Here, patients begin to actively remove themselves from potentially triggering situations when possible.
- Coping With Triggers: This is where the patient utilizes the coping skills and techniques that they learned in CBT to regulate the thoughts and emotions that led them to addiction.
How Does CBT Work?
CBT can be done in individual sessions or in groups with family members or other people that have similar concerns. By going over mental health conditions and what causes them, patients are given tools that help them cope with triggers, alleviate stress, be more assertive, learn to relax, and more.
During your first CBT session, the therapist will get your basic information and discuss what issues you would like to address in treatment. Here, you should discuss your past and present mental and physical health, as well as ensure that you and your therapist get along well in terms of goals and methods.
Treatment begins in the next sessions where you begin discussing what you are thinking and feeling with your therapist. Being vulnerable during these sessions can help you gain more self-confidence and be more open about yourself and your concerns.
The therapist will work with you to develop some goals that focus on the particular problems you are facing. You may then be assigned homework that relates to what was discussed during the session. Homework may consist of activities, readings, or practices that you do on your own.
The Steps of CBT
- Identifying what situations or conditions are bringing you distress in your life
A. This could be anger, mental illness symptoms, grief, divorce, a medical condition, etc.
B. You will then decide what specific problems you would like to work on during your sessions.
- Becoming aware of thoughts, feelings, and beliefs that are associated with these problems in your mind
A.This is done by recognizing and evaluating certain patterns of thinking and behaviors.
B. You mainly begin to focus on your responses to situations, especially the physical, emotional, and behavioral aspects of those responses.
- Changing negative or false thinking
A. Here you analyze the negative thoughts, asking yourself what your views are based on.
B. Evaluate if your thoughts are based on facts or if they are based on a false perception of a situation that you have created.
C. You can begin to make positive thinking and healthy behaviors an everyday habit.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy is an important tool in addiction recovery. This is because it addresses the underlying negative thoughts and feelings that led a person to addiction. Patients are able to view their concerns from a new perspective with the help of a therapist, and learn to overcome them. They also learn to regulate their emotions and become better at communication. Treatment centers around the United States utilize this therapy to treat their clients for addiction and other mental conditions. NorthStar Transitions is one of these centers, and the friendly staff would be happy to answer any questions you may have. Contact them at (303) 558-6400 to learn more and start your journey today!