Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Treats
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is used in the treatment of addiction and other mental health disorders. The efficacy (or effectiveness) of CBT is well documented and helps clients change problematic behaviors and thought patterns.
Cognitive behavioral therapy differs from other types of mental health therapy because it focuses on combating challenges and establishing healthy coping mechanisms. Challenging unrealistic thought patterns is a cornerstone of treatment.
Although CBT is an overarching treatment modality, each clinician adapts it to each individual; sometimes melding other psychological therapy modalities with core CBT principles. Those who receive CBT as part of their recovery program showed greater restraint in using addictive substances.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Defined
CBT posits a person’s thoughts influence their behavior.
Specifically, CBT tackles one’s personal biases and interpretations of everyday scenarios and relationship interactions. Many negative habits are a result of trauma, brain chemistry, and learned behaviors. CBT points out deviations in thought preventing “rational” thinking and behavior.
Therapists work with clients to improve the quality of their lives by understanding the impetus of behavior- replacing maladaptive coping with pragmatic coping; new found skills include self assessment, self soothing, and the ability to make clear decisions, despite past trauma and ingrained behaviors.
Someone who ruminates about car accidents or sudden death may find themselves avoiding driving altogether- for fear of dying. Irrational, intrusive thoughts distort reality, but are usually rooted in latent trauma. Unresolved traumas prompt people to act against their character- or differently than they may have without psychological trauma. Unknowingly self-sabotaging oneself is a common example of this behavior.
Through therapy, clients are challenged to establish which thought patterns are realistic, and which are not. Unrealistic thoughts are challenged and overcome through extended cognitive behavioral therapy..
Overwhelming evidence has shown that cognitive behavioral therapy has benefits for several conditions, including eating disorders, addiction, anxiety, PTSD, OCD, and major depressive disorder among several other conditions.
Sessions typically last from 45 minutes to an hour (for an average of 50 minutes).
The Benefits of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Addiction
Cognitive behavioral therapy helps clients identify and challenge detrimental thought patterns, bringing underlying traumas to the surface. In doing so, therapists and clients work together breaking down communication barriers, resolving past trauma, and reevaluating old coping mechanisms contributing to one’s addiction and poor quality of life.
Common underlying traumas within addiction medicine include:
- Sexual abuse; incest
- Domestic violence
- Military deployment
- Car accidents
- Physical abuse
- Verbal abuse (ie: bullying, demeaning, devaluation)
- Child abuse
- Unstable home
- Parental mental illnesses
Those who have experienced trauma at a young age are particularly vulnerable for potentiating continued substance abuse- even with treatment. Relapse prevention and longer inpatient rehabilitation is often necessary to achieve sobriety.
Clinically speaking, persons with unbalanced brain chemistry are also vulnerable to relapsing. Cognitive behavioral treatment is often paired with psychiatry to treat co-occurring mental health disorders and chemical imbalances.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Helps:
- Establish healthy relationships
- Clients work through negative intrusive thoughts
- Establish new coping mechanisms
- Clients regain control of their lives
- Enliven old passions and hobbies
- Address addictive thought patterns and behaviors
- Identify how past traumas continue to influence present behaviors
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Types
Although cognitive behavioral therapy is its own modality, there are variants of CBT. Each branch of CBT is slated to help address the underlying causes of addiction, but through varied approaches. For instance, some types of CBT were created to treat specific types of mental illness, like borderline personality disorder (BPD).
Those with BPD are prone to developing substance use disorders in an attempt to self-medicate the symptoms of an untreated mental health disorder. In branching off from the CBT model, therapists treat clients specifically- addressing their unique sociological makeup.
Types of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Addiction Treatment
Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT)
Rational emotive behavior therapy is a relatively short therapy treatment identifying self-defeating attitudes and thoughts. Self demeaning thoughts are challenged and explored. REBT helps clients understand the hidden meanings behind their self-sabotaging thoughts and behaviors.
Throughout the course of treatment clients learn to identify maladaptive thoughts and replace them with positive self-talk. Speaking positively inwards drastically reduces feelings of inadequacy and despair- thus addressing self-limiting behaviors.
Cognitive Therapy (CT)
Cognitive therapy focuses on the “here and now.” Its focus is to address present behaviors and has a large emphasis on self-help. After treatment clients are able to handle their emotional responses without self destructing. During therapy clients learn to identify problem thoughts and act in the opposite before they happen.
CT helps clients identify triggers and respond to them in the moment appropriately.
Multimodal Therapy (MMT)
Taking a truly multi-faceted approach to psychological therapy, multimodal therapy (MMT) targets seven core principles:
- Affect (one’s emotions)
- Sensation (referring to the body’s five senses)
- Imagery (one’s ability to imagine, visualize, and process thoughts pictorially)
- Interpersonal relationships
- Drugs (standard medications, nutrition, overall health, medical conditions)
Identifying the aforementioned aspects of this modality reveals clients’ overall “BASIC ID-” or whole, body, mind connection. Therapists typically draw on many facets of evidence-based cognitive therapies, combining and tailoring treatment individually.
Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)
Specifically designed for clients with borderline personality disorder, dialectical behavior therapy focuses on quelling emotional dysregulation, often exploding in bouts of self-harm, overwhelming anger, debilitating depression, and anxiety.
DBT focuses on maintaining healthy relationships, recognizing toxicity within interpersonal relationships from both oneself and those around them, and remaining mindful to self-regulate emotions without self-harming or using drugs.
The basis of DBT revolves around “dialectics.” When opposing thoughts clash positive change occurs when the melding of opposing thoughts synthesize. This is the basis of resolving past traumas with exasperated behaviors blocking positive change.
At the core of dialectical behavioral therapy, therapists and clients work together to forge self-acceptance and an understanding of seeing the grey between black and white thought patterns. DBT is the search for self and perspective.
CBT for Addiction Treatment
Addiction treatment backed by evidence-based cognitive behavioral therapy is one of the best treatment modals to combat addiction and achieve sobriety!
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy makes a lasting impact on clients, serving them throughout their journey of recovery, sobriety, and onward. CBT is typically a short-form type of treatment, but clients who are struggling are encouraged to continue therapy after rehabilitation. In fact, outpatient rehabilitation focuses on continuing therapy, establishing an extensive aftercare plan for clients.
CBT is an effective means to combat substance use disorders because clients learn to change their perspectives, avoid taking drugs or drinking alcohol, and live in the present moment.
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