Reviewing CBT

Reviewing CBT

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is psychological short-term, goal-oriented treatment that addresses addiction and other mental illnesses

The Mayo Clinic defines Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) as a method of psychotherapy that focuses on changing negative thought patterns and behaviors into positive ones. Working with a psychotherapist, patients who struggle with mental illnesses can recognize the thought patterns that lead to negative outcomes, and then they can work to change those problems into benefits. By viewing challenging situations in life more accurately, addicts and people with mental health issues can respond to challenges in healthier ways. CBT is one of the most common types of therapies used to treat mental illness, and it can help you recover from whatever issue ails you.

Basics of CBT

CBT focuses on the relationships between thoughts and behaviors. When thoughts are unhealthy, behaviors become unpredictable and reactionary. However, rather than working through thoughts and feelings to their natural healthy conclusions, people who struggle with mental illness are often unable to differentiate between what is imagined and what is real. When the imagined consequences take hold of the mind, the temptation to reach for a substance or to act in a self-destructive way can be overwhelming. By learning to recognize and change thoughts that are harmful, people with mental illnesses regain control of the actions they associated with those thoughts. For example, someone with depression may have feelings of worthlessness. These feelings are a result of the depression and not based in fact, but, because the feelings are so strong, the person cannot tell the difference between which feelings are normal and which result from the disorder. Unfortunately, over time, feelings of worthlessness can lead to behaviors that seemingly take those feelings away, like using drugs or alcohol. In truth, drugs make the depression worse, and CBT will help patients see this connection.

CBT works to change or stop negative feelings before they get out of control. When using this therapy, psychotherapists encourage their patients to write down various feelings when they occur, which allows patients to search for patterns of thinking that lead to negative behaviors. With this information at hand, patients can then find ways to change their behavior into positive channels. Part of this improvement is done by analyzing the thoughts and their basis in reality. For example, someone who struggles with a panic disorder might write down that she is in danger, but, at the date and time, she was only feeling this way, and there was no danger. The therapist can take this one thought, and, using with CBT, help her patient see the reality at that time. Afterwards, the patient can change her thought pattern the next time such panic surfaces.

When Is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Used?

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), CBT is used in a variety of mental illness cases; for instance, it can address mood disorders, depression, anxiety disorders, personality disorders, eating disorders, sleep disorders, substance abuse and addiction and psychotic disorders. The NAMI suggests that CBT improves brain function and can even serve as an antidepressant in people with depression—in other words, therapy can significantly reduce the likelihood of relapse for depression. CBT can also help patients who suffer from schizophrenia, because they can identify their own delusions and paranoia to explore how these beliefs damage their lives.

At each session of CBT, therapists help patients identify events from the past week (or however long it has been between sessions) that caused problems, or issues that could cause problems soon. From that point, the therapist encourages the patient to share any ideas or behaviors that interfered with the patient’s ability to solve the problems on his own. Working together, the patient and the therapist develop a plan for when these problems arise in the future. This plan of action includes acts the patient can do to change his thinking or actions so that the problem gets solved in a healthy way. By recognizing the small changes the patient can make on a daily basis, he is directly involved in his own treatment and he will believe that change is truly possible.

Therapists often request their patients to supplement treatment sessions by reading books about CBT and how to put what they learn in therapy to use on a daily basis. Patients and their families are also encouraged to join support groups, because support groups help people stay open and help them identify the thought processes that lead to negative outcomes. For people who struggle with the same issues, talking about their problems and learning together while regularly employing the techniques learned in therapy can help increase the likelihood of recovery success.

Find Help for Drug and Alcohol Addiction

CBT is an important part of treatment for drug and alcohol addiction and many other forms of mental illness. If you or your loved one struggles with substance abuse, then know that we are here for you. Call our toll-free, 24 hour helpline now to speak to an admissions coordinator about available treatment options.