Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Successfully addressing the needs of those in recovery requires a holistic approach to treatment. It requires more than treating the physical addiction and must help clients uncover the underlying causes of continued substance abuse. Therapy is a critical component of the recovery process. Without developing methods of coping with stressors and triggers in a healthy way, relapse would be inevitable.

In order to improve treatment outcomes, various forms of therapy are used throughout the recovery process to help empower clients and change their line of thinking. One of the most effective forms of therapy in addiction treatment is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). It is a highly focused form of therapy that addresses the behaviors that drive substance abuse, related disorders, and mental health needs in recovery.

What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) approaches treatment in a different way. Rather than trying to solely identify root causes through exploring childhood experiences and past trauma, CBT focuses on identifying solutions to current problems. This form of therapy works with clients to identify the ideas, thoughts, and perceptions that influence behaviors. Rather than allowing these thoughts to manipulate a person’s reality, CBT focuses on three key points:

  1. Identify the thoughts and perceptions influencing behaviors
  2. Assess the accuracy of these thoughts and feelings
  3. Implement strategies to overcome thoughts and feelings that inhibit growth

This form of therapy is more hands-on than other approaches and is more goal-oriented as well. Clients work closely with therapists to understand underlying problems and develop strategies to address them. By addressing a person’s cognitive processes and helping them understand how their beliefs or attitudes affect their behaviors, a person is better able to change their pattern of thinking to improve their ability to deal with emotional problems.

What Does CBT Treat?

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy can be used to treat a wide array of issues. Because of how it is structured, it tends to work quickly and can help clients achieve objectives in a shorter period of time. Some situations in which CBT is effective include:

  • Identify ways to better manage emotions
  • Manage symptoms of mental health disorders
  • Learn techniques to cope with stressors
  • Cope with grief or loss
  • Manage symptoms of mental health conditions when medication may not work
  • Overcome trauma from abuse or violence
  • Develop better methods of communication with others

How Does CBT Work?

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy concurrently examines how thinking patterns and behaviors relate to problems. This means that therapy is highly personalized to address the unique needs of the person in treatment. CBT approaches treatment from the perspective that events and experiences are only as powerful as our minds allow them to be. By holding onto negative thoughts or feelings, we limit ourselves and our growth. CBT focuses on uncovering why a person thinks in a particular way and works to help them break the cycle of negative thoughts that allow dysfunction to continue.

Rather than allowing conversation in therapy sessions to manifest on its own, CBT is a highly structured model in which a client meets with a therapist to address specific problems through the achievement of defined goals. A therapist may require a client to complete “homework” following sessions so that they may begin applying practices to their daily lives. From there, clients can explore what works and what does not so that they can empower themselves to continue making positive changes in their lives.

CBT is typically a one-on-one form of therapy that is incredibly focused on identifying problems and solving them. Rather than the therapist guiding a person through thoughts and feelings, interactions are more of an exchanging of ideas and working together to find solutions. It is a collaborative form of therapy that encourages clients to develop independence through self-empowerment.

How Does CBT Work in Addiction Treatment?

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is particularly effective in addiction treatment. It is typically incorporated into a person’s individualized treatment plan to help them identify the thoughts and feelings that may influence addiction. For those who struggle with addiction, it is not uncommon to find many battle with negative thoughts, self-defeating mentalities, or self-destructive ideations that inhibit progress in recovery. Changing these harmful thought processes is vital to successful treatment. In addition to breaking these negative thought patterns, a person must also replace them with new ways of thinking and methods of self-regulating difficult thoughts, emotions, and behaviors.

CBT is particularly effective in addiction treatment because of its problem-focused nature. It is goal-oriented and gives clients achievable targets to work towards. CBT structure is effective in addiction treatment because:

  • It explores clients’ thoughts and behaviors that drive self-destructive behavior. From there, CBT works to redirect those patterns so that they no longer fuel addiction.
  • CBT often requires clients to complete “homework” following sessions. This encourages positive growth and helps clients see how these changes impact their everyday lives.
  • It can be used in both individual and group therapy sessions.
  • CBT helps clients develop practical skills and strategies they can use in their everyday lives.
  • CBT is effective in helping clients develop healthy coping mechanisms to deal with the stressors and triggers they will inevitably face.

Negative thinking is one of the primary drivers in continued substance abuse. By breaking these patterns and developing positive, actionable changes in thinking and behavior can strengthen a person’s sobriety. Many in addiction recovery struggle with mental health conditions that can also drive thoughts and behaviors that fuel substance abuse. CBT provides therapeutic benefits for this as well, which improves recovery outcomes. When incorporated into a treatment plan, clients are equipped with the tools to support sobriety long-term and cope with challenges they may face in productive ways.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy at Nexus

Nexus’ intensive outpatient, outpatient, and aftercare programs utilize CBT, along with many other treatment modalities, to treat addiction and co-occurring mental health disorders in our clients. Our highly trained and experience staff utilize elements of CBT to help our clients learn to live and enjoy life sober. Individual and group therapy provides our clients with a variety of perspectives and opportunities for growth while also fostering community among our clients. Together with staff and their peers, our clients learn to deal with the challenges of early recovery and learn the tools they need to succeed and build a life worth staying sober for.

If you are considering treatment for yourself or a loved one, call us today.

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