What Exactly Is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?

group therapy

The disease of addiction doesn’t develop overnight. In fact, addiction begins as substance abuse, which slowly increases in frequency and severity until an individual reaches the point of physical dependency. However, the effects of addiction aren’t only physical, but extend to virtually every aspect of one’s life. Addiction is an encompassing, all-consuming disease that causes completely altered patterns of thought and, consequently, dramatic changes in behavior. Individuals who develop addictions often behave in ways that oppose what’s in their best interests. There’s a sense of desperation that comes with being an addict, caused by addicts being in constant fear of withdrawal. As such, individuals suffering from alcoholism and drug addiction will commonly resort to dishonest or even criminal behavior in order to sustain their unsustainable substance abuse habits. Combined with the descent into a state of financial disrepair, the destruction of important relationships, and the loss of jobs or other opportunities, an addict can quickly reach a point that’s colloquially referred to as “rock bottom,” indicating that one’s addiction has resulted in reaching a low point in his or her life.

Unfortunately, it often takes hitting rock bottom for individuals in active addiction to finally choose to begin the recovery process. In essence, their lives have become unmanageable as a direct result of addiction with even the fear of withdrawal being less intense than the prospect of any additional hardships. Similar to the way that each addict develops an addiction due to his or her own set of specific, unique circumstances, the journey of recovery is also a very personal, individual process. It involves finding the right facility, program, and treatments for one’s particular recovery needs as well as maintaining the effort and conviction to sustain sobriety for the long-term. However, there are also a number of treatments that tend to be nearly universal or a significant part of most treatment curricula. Cognitive behavioral therapy is one such treatment that has remained a staple of recovery programming since its inception; therefore, the following will explain cognitive behavioral therapy, detail the various conditions it can be useful in treating, and serve as a concise overview of how cognitive behavioral therapy is used and effective in treating alcoholism and drug addiction.

Understanding Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Counseling and psychotherapy might seem like a relatively straightforward form of treatment that requires only a patient lying on a sofa and a therapist nodding pensively while listening to stories of the patient’s childhood. However, there are more than a few different approaches that one can taken when conducting psychotherapy with a patient with each having very particular applications and outcomes. Cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT for short, is one form of psychotherapy that puts a major emphasis on the roles that one’s thinking and emotions have on his or her behavior, which is a concept that serves as the foundation of the cognitive-behavioral method. According to the National Association of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapists, there are a number of traits that distinguish cognitive behavioral therapy from other forms of psychotherapy and counseling.

In particular, cognitive behavior therapy is a short-term, goal-oriented form of therapy that depends upon the client or patient and the therapist forming a collaborative relationship in which the therapist’s duties are to listen, encourage, and teach while the patient’s duty is to express, learn, and implement. Additional, cognitive behavioral therapy incorporates a philosophy of stoicism, which means that patients aren’t told how they should be feel in response to various emotional stimuli since there’s not a right or wrong way to feel; however, stoicism encourages individuals to respond to negative emotional stimuli in a calm, even manner. Cognitive behavioral therapy also operates on the belief that emotional and behavioral responses are learned behaviors, suggesting that individuals can learn healthy, productive responses in order to replace maladaptive or unhealthy ones. Therapists who counsel individuals based on the cognitive-behavioral method often teach patients a variety of useful coping skills or strategies, which often involves assigning so-called “homework” to patients so that they can improve upon these new or learned skills.

therapy session

For Which Conditions is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Useful?

There are many conditions for which the cognitive-behavioral modality can be incredibly useful or beneficial. It’s been found that individuals who suffer from symptoms of mood or anxiety disorders show a marked improvement in their symptoms since cognitive behavioral therapy affords them a means of learning new ways to alleviate or overcome the symptoms that they had been experiencing. Recently, there has been growing evidence for the efficacy of cognitive behavioral therapy in treating attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), hypochondriasis, and bipolar disorder.

Cognitive behavioral therapy has also shown to be a central component in the treatment of adults with psychosis, various personality disorders, schizophrenia, eating disorders, substance use disorder and addiction, body dysmorphic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), insomnia, and even chronic fatigue syndrome. In essence, cognitive behavioral therapy can be helpful in a wide variety of different mental and emotional afflictions as well as for the psychological distress that results from physical injury, but since cognitive behavioral therapy is a short-term form of treatment, it is often transitioned into another form of psychotherapy in instances of prolonged or ongoing treatment.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy & Addiction Treatment

As mentioned above, cognitive behavioral therapy has become a central psychotherapeutic treatment for individuals in recovery from substance abuse and addiction. Since treatment programs tend to be short-term—lasting for a period of weeks up to a few months—cognitive behavioral therapy and its efficacy as a goal-oriented, short-term treatment affords those in recovery with a means of gaining an understanding of the underlying issues that have contributed to their addictions while learning the skills and coping strategies required to achieve lasting sobriety. Moreover, cognitive behavioral therapy is an effective way for therapists to help those in recovery to identify any problematic thoughts, emotions, or behaviors that could result in a relapse in the future. In addition to individual counseling sessions, cognitive behavioral therapy is often implemented in group sessions, family therapy, and in helping individuals to deal with cravings and relapse triggers.

Find Your Way to a New Life with Recovery Hub

Therapy is often identified as one of the most important parts of rehabilitation. It allows individuals to gain a more thorough understanding of themselves and the underlying factors that might have contributed to their addictions in the first place as well as to learn how to sustain sobriety for the long-term. If you or someone you love is suffering from a chemical dependency and would benefit from learning more about cognitive behavioral therapy or other forms of treatment, call Recovery Hub today at 888-220-4352. Our team of recovery specialists is on standby, offering free consultations and assessment to those suffering from alcoholism or drug addiction and who are ready to live a happy, healthy life once more.

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