Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a form of psychotherapy that is goal oriented and focused on correcting an individual’s maladaptive thoughts and core beliefs that leads to a whole host of emotional problems, including anxiety, depression and anger, and behavioral problems that follow: not wanting to get out of bed, getting into fights, or deciding to use substances. This kind of treatment helps individuals understand how their thoughts and feelings impact their behavior.
An individual will learn to understand the cognitive model by working with a therapist or counselor, and learn to identify the roots of negative aspects of their own life which can be positively improved through its use. The goal of this treatment is to show individuals that despite their inability to control every aspect of their surroundings, they can control how they interpret these interactions and how they choose to deal with them.
Feelings of stress can easily influence behavior and can distort one’s perception of reality. The aim of CBT is to identify such harmful thoughts and employ strategies of challenging and overcoming them.
The cognitive model focuses on three components in order to help conceptualize a problem or situation: thoughts, feelings, and behaviors; and it is often depicted with each representing a point on an equilateral triangle. Viewed this way, one can easily understand how each of the elements impact one another, and it helps to provide a framework from which to discuss one’s reaction to any situation. The core belief of CBT is that (1) by becoming aware of your negative, often automatic, thought process, (2) you will be able to view challenges in a much clearer way and (3) respond to them more effectively. It is through slowing down one’s reactions to any given situation that they are able to gain more agency over their life and be able to operate in new ways.
The therapist’s role is to explain the interaction between these elements, and will ask for the client in the session to break down their current difficulty into the thoughts and core beliefs that fuel their reactions. In analyzing these areas and in determining what effect they are having on the individual, they can now help them to identify their negative thoughts that are contributing to negative emotions and behaviors, and also to identify new, more appropriate thoughts. This may involve asking important questions such as, “Is this thought true?” or “Is this thought helpful?”, or learning about the common cognitive distortions, or thinking traps that one might fall into.
CBT is especially helpful in clients in recovery to help recognize and avoid or cope with triggers that in the past have led to substance abuse. Using CBT, a therapist can help train an individual to dismiss faulty belief structures that perpetuate substance use, as well as provide tools to better regulate emotions and teach effective communication.
At Riviera Recovery, we understand the importance of continued counseling throughout all stages of the recovery process, as well as using modalities that are evidence-based and proven to be effective. Call today at 1-866-478-8799 to learn more about our program!