Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: Changing The Way One Thinks

One of the most common forms of psychotherapy used in behavioral health services at addiction treatment centers is cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT. Unlike medication treatment for addiction, psychotherapy utilizes speech to address substance abuse disorders. Commonly referred to as “talk therapy,” CBT differs from psychoanalysis. It lasts relatively short periods of time, and is critical in helping people overcome the throes of addiction. Furthermore, CBT may even be the only treatment necessary for some mild addictions.

Psychoanalysis vs. CBT

Psychoanalysis was developed to discover the subconscious state of mind responsible for causing problem behaviors. While understanding how the subconscious affects the current state of mind is important, this form of therapy does not provide any tools to fight addiction or symptoms of mental health disorders, which is where CBT comes into play. During CBT treatment, patients will have ongoing conversations with their therapists about their thoughts and what can be done to change them.

How long does CBT Last?

Psychotherapy has received a lot of negative feedback over its actual effect on mental disorders over the past few decades; however, CBT sessions may conclude in as little as six weeks depending upon the severity of the mental health disorder. In the cases of substance abuse at drug and alcohol treatment centers, CBT may be needed well beyond the six-week time frame.

What Will Each Session Entail?

The first session will feel very similar to a job interview. Patients will be asked questions about their disorder and thoughts. There are no right answers, but honesty is imperative. The therapist, who may also be a social worker, licensed chemical dependency counselor, psychiatrist or psychologist, will advise patients on what to expect throughout the course of treatment. Patients will also talk about their goals for therapy and why they are receiving therapy in the first place. The therapist will help them create and identify healthy strategies for coping with problem behaviors. Therapists will give their patients homework following each session to help them apply the coping skills they have learned. For example, an immediate coping skill for a given situation in the past may have been the use of drugs, but the therapist advises the patient to try journaling as an alternative. During the next session, patients will discuss the effects of the new coping skill and if they need to move on to learning another skill for the interim.

Is CBT Available for Outpatient Treatment?

Patients may receive CBT in an inpatient rehabilitation center as well as outpatient drug rehab centers or alcohol recovery programs. If they have been in inpatient treatment, they will need to continue recovery on an outpatient basis in order to ensure success. Unfortunately, many people fail to continue receiving CBT and revert to unhealthy coping skills like drugs or alcohol.

Although CBT is an effective treatment for substance abuse disorders, it may also be used for anxiety and depression treatment as well as many other mental health disorders. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 53 percent of those with a substance abuse disorder also have an underlying mental health disorder, and CBT treats both conditions. When patients have developed the ability to identify the thought processes responsible for negative behaviors, they will be able to alter their thoughts and influence the outcome in a positive way.