Therapy is one of the key components to an effective substance abuse or mental health treatment program. There are many different types of therapy, and each works to treat a certain aspect of health: mind, body or spirit. Addiction affects all aspects of health, so treatment has to take on a comprehensive approach to garner success.
Some of the biggest changes addiction to drugs or alcohol will make in your life are the changes to mindset and behavior. As you fall further into substance abuse, your life becomes less your own and more aligned with the seeking and use of substances. This process results in alterations to behavior and thoughts that can be hard to break.
Behavioral therapy teaches you to improve your daily behavior and your mindset. Instead of living for use of a substance, you begin seeking healthy fulfillment in other ways.
One type of therapy that has proven effective in this manner is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).
What Is CBT?
CBT belongs to a class of therapy called Psychotherapy, commonly referred to as “talk therapy,” according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). The method gained this name because in CBT participants sit down with a therapist and talk. They talk to:
- Understand or explore feelings
- Understand or explore behaviors
- Build coping skills
CBT works to explore how your thoughts, feelings and behaviors interact with each other. One of the goals of CBT is to reveal unhealthy patterns of thoughts and the resulting feelings and behaviors. Once you recognize the habits that are working against you, you can work with the therapist to develop ways to change them, building new, positive ones instead.
For example, in struggling with addiction you may have a lot of restricting beliefs, or feel like you have little hope of overcoming your issues. With CBT, you’ll learn to counter these thoughts with positive ones. Rather than thinking, “I’ll never beat addiction,” you can think, “I may have to work hard, but I have made it this far and can meet my goals with a little help.”
How Does It Work?
CBT calls on a few main principles which help you identify any beliefs that are harming you, examining them and rebuilding them to benefit you. This isn’t practiced just during sessions; the therapist often challenges participants to apply the principle of positive thought changes to situations between sessions.
In this way, you learn to reinforce positive thoughts, which results in good feelings and behaviors. Over time, this process becomes habit, and habit becomes lifestyle. Addiction is developed in the same way. However, with CBT and the treatment methods that accompany it, you are building healthy, positive lifestyle habits instead of harmful ones.
As explained by Mayo Clinic, “CBT helps you become aware of inaccurate or negative thinking so you can view challenging situations more clearly and respond to them in a more effective way.”
The results of CBT are so successful that it has been used to treat many different mental disorders, substance abuse disorders and eating disorders. It’s gained a large following in these fields of research as well, as it has been shown to improve brain functioning. Therapists who conduct CBT sessions are licensed, trained professionals with experience in the field of psychotherapy.
The Bluffs proudly offers this evidence-based method for those who seek treatment with us.
What Is A CBT Session Like?
CBT is based “on the idea that our thoughts cause our feelings and behaviors, not external things like people, situations, and events,” according to the National Association of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapists.
That’s why in a typical CBT session, you’ll focus on thought patterns instead of external factors. CBT sessions are generally shorter than average sessions, and are timed. At your first session, your therapist will likely spend much of the time getting to know you. He or she may ask about your treatment goals, discuss your current state of all aspects of health, have you voice your concerns and decide which ones you’d like to work on.
The first session will also give you a chance to get to know your therapist: the approach he or she will take, what the length of sessions will be and make sure you are both on the same page for treatment goals.
When sessions begin, the therapist will try to engage you in discussion. If it’s hard to open up at first, it may get easier with time and the therapist will do everything to make you feel as comfortable as possible.
Mainly, during a CBT session, the therapist listens, offering open questions now and then, and helps you work through concerns, troubling thoughts and feelings as you reach them.
Overall, the goal of the sessions does a few things. First, you’ll identify problems and stressful factors or situations in your life. You may spend time with your therapist discussing which of these you want to address the most. You’ll also gain a deeper awareness of these problems, and your thoughts and feelings about them.
By engaging in talk, the therapist can help you identify, aloud, the way you feel or beliefs you hold about certain situations or conditions. What you feel may be different from what you tell yourself about a given situation. CBT can help you reveal this gap and work toward a healthy solution.
Finally, you’ll work with your therapist on ways to mold your thinking to form positive thoughts that will turn into good feelings and behaviors. This takes practice, but with effort can become a great force of change in your life. Ultimately, CBT will develop into a lifestyle that you can apply to many different aspects of life.
How Is CBT Used With Other Treatment Modalities?
The Bluffs recognizes that a comprehensive healing experience requires multiple methods of treatment. That’s why we integrate other modalities according to each person’s unique needs. CBT is helpful for a great number of people, but not every treatment method works well for every person.
If you’re a woman, you’ll have different treatment needs from men. If you’re suffering from abuse of certain substances, medication assisted therapy may not be right for you. Each person who receives treatment in our facility will get a plan designed to meet their needs.
Some modalities we utilize include:
- Other forms of therapy, such as Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), Outdoor and Recreational Therapy
- Mindfulness and stress management activities
- Family and peer support
- Help with relapse prevention
- Aftercare support
Why Is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Important?
Though CBT isn’t the only method you’ll encounter in treatment, it’s an important one. Why?
With CBT, you can expect a number of beneficial outcomes, which can include:
- Learning to manage symptoms of addiction: cravings, urges, triggers
- Learning to manage symptoms of mental illness, such as anxiety and depression
- Changing thoughts to manage feelings and behavior
- As a result, managing and preventing relapse
- Finding ways to cope with stress, grief, conflict and more
- Learning to manage emotions
- Working through and managing feelings/thoughts associated with trauma, abuse, or violence
- Learning to cope with medical issues
- Learning to manage symptoms of chronic pain or illness
CBT also works faster than some other types of therapy. This means you can identify some of the biggest issues you’re facing and challenge them. The faster you understand what’s at the heart of your issues, the faster you can learn ways to manage the issues.
Make CBT Part Of Your Treatment Plan
At The Bluffs, we know you’ll need a variety of treatment methods to achieve long-term recovery goals. For this reason, we can help you design a plan that works for you, addressing all aspects of health to ensure greater success in treatment. We want you to leave with the confidence and skills you need to achieve sobriety. Contact us today at The Bluffs to learn more.
Mayo Clinic—Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: Overview
National Alliance On Mental Illness—Psychotherapy
National Association Of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapists—What Is Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)?