Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a widely used therapeutic approach which examines the link between a client's environment, thinking and eventual behavior. The premise of this approach is based on the idea that a person's particular way of perceiving an event or situation will determine how he/she feels and ultimately acts. It is a model that has its roots in classical conditioning and learning theories.
As CBT has proven to have many benefits, more and more addictions treatment facilities are utilizing this model to assist clients in their recovery efforts. CBT as applied to addictive substance use and behaviors has two main components: (1) analysis of faulty thought patterns and (2) skill building.
Initially, when entering therapy for an addiction, one must learn to identify the automatic negative thoughts that occur in response to situations, events or people (otherwise known as triggers). Often a client suffering from an addiction does not know what causes him/her to use and is very detached from the thoughts and feelings that occur before, during and after use. Working with a therapist trained in CBT, a client can learn to identify the irrational thoughts, challenge them with more balanced thoughts using available evidence, and gain confidence as more adaptive behavior begins to emerge from the new way of thinking. In addictions treatment, this is especially helpful for relapse prevention, in that a client can learn to identify triggering circumstances and either avoid them or learn to circumvent the type of all or nothing thinking that more often than not leads to a return to using behavior.
In addition, the client will be building a "toolbox" of more effective coping skills that can be used when facing difficult or stressful situations. Studies show that when CBT is combined with a 12-step intervention, the chances of long-term sobriety increase. Many of the new tools that a client learns to use are associated with 12-step recovery such as reaching out to others as opposed to isolating, taking an active role in one's recovery with written step work, and helping others through service work. As clients begin to relearn new ways of looking at their substance abuse patterns, new behavioral patterns emerge and confidence grows.
Although long term sobriety requires daily work and is an ongoing process, CBT is goal-directed, objective and relatively short-term. Most clients show significant progress after 12-16 sessions with a therapist and studies show that therapeutic gains associated with CBT are usually maintained. It is important, however, that clients do recognize the importance of continued support in order to strengthen the newly learned behaviors. Taking an active role in 12-step life during CBT-based treatment is highly effective in ensuring this support and reinforcement, and has proven helpful in avoiding relapse.
New Hope Recovery Center is an addiction treatment center based in Chicago. If you or someone you know is suffer from addiction or any type of substance abuse please reach out to learn more. For more information please contact us via email or give us a call at 773-883-3916.
Written By: New Hope Recovery Center
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