What Are the Benefits of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)?

There are many therapy types that can address a wide range of mental health conditions and offer ways to cope with them. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is one such technique that is being utilized by treatment centers and independent therapists around the country. In fact, CBT is often considered the gold standard when it comes to changing harmful beliefs or attitudes that affect our behavior and making the symptoms of anxiety, depression and other mental health concerns more manageable. 

That’s why more people are using it in their recovery, as it continues to reveal how extremely helpful it can be in the treatment of substance use disorder and mental illness. Keep reading to learn more about CBT and how NorthStar Transitions utilizes this effective technique to help you heal.

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 Can CBT Help With?

  • Anxiety disorders
  • Depression
  • Schizophrenia
  • Phobias
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Sleep disorders
  • Sexual disorders
  • Eating disorders
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Substance abuse disorders & addiction
  • Stressful life situations
  • Chronic pain

What Are the Benefits of CBT?

CBT is effective for an extensive range of mental health concerns that people are living with. In fewer sessions than other therapies, it treats these issues by quickly identifying and exploring the problems causing distress and helping individuals develop healthier ways to cope with them. Here’s how.


One of the most significant benefits of CBT is that it helps you become aware of harmful or negative thought patterns that influence your feelings and behavior. Many times, cognitive distortions and inaccurate beliefs that we have about ourselves and others can happen automatically and turn into self-defeating behaviors that harm our mental health. CBT helps you recognize this type of negative thinking so you can transform it into something more balanced, accurate and positive.


Many mental health concerns are associated with low self-esteem. Unfortunately, this feeds into the cycle of negative thoughts or beliefs and vice versa. By disrupting this pattern and challenging any untrue assumptions you might have about yourself, CBT can help you develop more realistic ways of thinking to improve your overall confidence and self-image.


Once you’ve identified negative thoughts, feelings and behaviors that harm your mental wellness, CBT can give you new coping mechanisms to deal with stressful situations. This might include evidence-based techniques like cognitive restructuring, goal management, behavioral activation, mindfulness and self-monitoring, journaling, communication skills and more. These have also been found to be successful in helping overcome emotional trauma such as abuse or violence.


Another benefit is that CBT can help you better manage your emotions. It teaches how to identify strong feelings before they get too intense and utilizes cognitive control strategies to keep you from getting overwhelmed. Additionally, it can limit impulsive behaviors or reactions that arise from powerful emotions and help you cope with them in a more effective way.


CBT can help prevent relapse in addiction recovery by managing mental health conditions that are triggering or difficult to deal with. Many people self-medicate with drugs or alcohol to find relief from their symptoms, but the skills learned in therapy provide healthier ways to cope. CBT can also increase awareness of the connection between your thoughts, feelings and behaviors.


In addition to helping people manage substance abuse or mental health concerns, CBT is useful for a wide range of stressful life situations. It can aid in repairing relationships, coping with grief or loss, processing a difficult medical diagnosis and resolving conflict. Some people also use CBT techniques for chronic pain, along with other remedies such as massage, medication or physical therapy.

How Does CBT Help With Addiction?

If you’re working toward recovery from alcoholism or another substance abuse disorder such as an opioid, cocaine, methamphetamine or prescription drug addiction, CBT can become an integral part of your treatment plan. By helping you make connections between your thoughts, feelings and actions and how they affect your overall mindset, you’ll be able to discard harmful patterns and learn problem-solving skills that help you manage stressful situations. Since negative thoughts are often the primary cause of anxiety and depression, two of the most common triggers for relapse, CBT will target these to improve your mood and give you the best chance at achieving lifelong sobriety. 

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, you'll begin to understand and recognize the circumstances that lead to maladaptive coping behaviors like drinking or drug use.
  • Avoiding triggers — Here, you’ll begin to actively remove yourself from potentially triggering situations whenever possible.

Coping with triggers — This is where you'll utilize the coping skills and techniques that you learned in CBT to regulate the thoughts and emotions that lead to addictive behavior.

How Does CBT Work?

CBT can be done in individual sessions or in groups with family members or other people that have similar concerns. At the beginning of your treatment, you’ll review your goals with your therapist so you can develop the tools that are most relevant to you, whether that’s coping with triggers, alleviating stress, becoming more assertive, learning to relax, or something else entirely.

First Session

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 lead 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!

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