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Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) is a type of psychotherapeutic treatment which is based on the principles of behaviorism and cognition. It focuses on how a person’s thoughts and feelings about themselves and the world around them can influence their behaviors and actions. It is used to help people identify negative and destructive thinking patterns and actions, so that they may be able to see situations more clearly and respond to them in a healthier way. CBT is an effective tool that is often used to help treat mental health disorders as well as addiction.

Principles of Cognitive Behavior Therapy

Studies have shown that CBT is effective in helping people become more functional and improve their quality of life. In fact, it has been reported as more successful as a treatment compared to other types of psychological therapy or medications. This may be due to the core principles that are the basis of this type of talk therapy:

  • Psychological behaviors are a result, in part, of unhelpful thoughts.
  • Psychological problems are founded, in part, on learned patterns of unhelpful behavior.
  • People with psychological problems can learn more effective ways of coping with their symptoms, enabling them to live a better life.

Based on these principles, CBT treatment often utilizes strategies that focus on helping people change their thinking and behavioral patterns. Some of these include:

  • Learning to identify self-destructive thoughts that create problems for them.
  • Getting a better understanding of what motivates others and why they behave the way they do.
  • Learning how to use problem-solving skills to cope with challenging situations.
  • Developing greater confidence in themselves and in their abilities.
  • Facing fears instead of avoiding them.
  • Learning how to stay calm in both mind and body.

Take note that not all CBT treatment plans will utilize these strategies. The psychologist and the patient will need to work together in order to gain a deep understanding of the problem and what strategy will work best. The main result that CBT treatment hopes to achieve is to help the patient learn how to “treat” himself by teaching him effective coping strategies that can enable them to change their distorted thoughts, negative emotions, and self-destructive actions.

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Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Addiction Treatment

Based on the cognitive behavior therapy approach, addiction is a pattern of behavior that is a result of negative thoughts and feelings. Many of us have automatic negative thoughts based on false beliefs and insecurities which cause us to feel negatively about ourselves. These negative feelings, in turn, can make us feel anxious and depressed. It can also lead to substance abuse.

Cognitive behavior therapy is problem-focused and goal-oriented. When CBT is used to treat addictions, it focuses first on the problem – the negative thoughts and feelings and what events cause them to appear. This enables the patient to see how their behavior is affected by those same thoughts and emotions. From there, the psychologist and the patient will work together on how he can view these situations more realistically. This conscious change of perception will then help them avoid negative emotions that lead to harmful behaviors.

Part of the CBT treatment is also to provide the patient with self-help tools that improve their moods and teach them how to communicate more effectively. It also enables them to recognize “triggers” or situations that cause them to crave the substance that they are addicted to. More importantly, CBT provides the patient with exercises that they can practice on their own to help them address and alleviate negative thoughts and emotions that might lead them to relapse. The goal of CBT is to replace harmful behaviors (e.g. substance abuse) with healthier ones that are a result of positive thoughts and emotions.

CBT Techniques

There are different techniques used in CBT to help people recover from an addiction. These include:

This technique teaches recovering addicts to examine their negative thoughts and search for evidence that prove or disprove their validity. This evidence is recorded, allowing them to compare and contrast the two sides. The goal of this technique is to help the person become more balanced in their thinking instead of havin`g  self-destructive thoughts.

These are exercises to help a person determine what kind of thoughts are more effective in helping him/her change a certain behavior. Some people are more motivated by self-kindness while others are more responsive to self-criticism.

This technique involves asking the patient to recall a memory that caused them to feel negatively about themselves. He/she is asked to recall every sight, sound, emotion, and thought that occured in that moment. By frequently recalling such a painful memory, the patient can learn to feel less anxious about it over time.

This type of activity helps the recovering addict practice coping skills they have learned, helping them build their self-confidence and deal with fears. Moreover, it can help them become more desensitized to that kind of situation. With enough practice, the patient can become more able to avoid or deal with situations that could lead to a relapse.

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How long does treatment take?

CBT is an action-focused, goal-oriented treatment that aims to provide people with coping skills to deal with immediate problems. Because of this, treatment is typically short-term ranging from 12 to 16 sessions with a therapist. Despite the short amount of time, CBT has proven to be effective in producing meaningful results.

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Recovering from an addiction isn’t easy, but it can be done. There are plenty of treatments available that have helped people stop abusing drugs and start living productive lives again.