If you’re curious about how your therapy is accomplished and what the principles behind it are, you’ll want to learn about cognitive behavioral therapy – because it’s likely that it is part of your treatment.

What is CBT?

Cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, is one of the most widely used forms of therapy. According to the American Psychological Association, It has proven to be effective in the treatment of depression, anxiety, PTSD, addiction, eating disorders and more. The journal Psychiatric Clinics of North America states that CBT is effective both independently and combined with other modes of treatment.

CBT is a type of psychotherapy that focuses on changing negative thought patterns to, in turn, impact behavior. This mode of treatment also emphasizes learning skills to cope in the face of distress and improving functioning to lead a normal and full life.

Cognitive behavioral therapy can be provided by a licensed mental health professional in one-on-one or group settings, and often treatment for mental illness or addiction includes both. This framework can be combined with other types of therapy or medication.

How does CBT work?

Cognitive behavioral therapy is a continual process of identifying and replacing negative thoughts, and learning skills to manage discomfort. Mayo Clinic outlines several steps that you can expect when CBT is part of your treatment plan. The steps are as follows.

  1. Identify issues: Healing or handling a problem starts with identifying it. CBT will help you narrow your focus onto a particular issue at a time, so it feels more manageable and can be addressed more directly. Your goals will be based on the problems you identify.
  2. Build awareness of your thoughts around the issue: The things we tell ourselves are called “self-talk.” In this step you’ll start to differentiate between good, neutral and bad thoughts.
  3. Pinpoint the negative talk: Our negative behaviors stem from our negative thoughts about the problems in our life. This stage is all about noticing negative patterns and honing in on the ones you want to change.
  4. Replace negative thoughts: After you’ve pinpointed patterns, you’ll be much more equipped to change them. Pessimistic or damaging thoughts can be exchanged for constructive and hopeful thoughts. 

While adjusting thinking patterns can help change behaviors and alleviate negative symptoms, sometimes problems pop up anyway. Cognitive behavioral therapy also includes learning ways to cope through difficult situations when they do arise. 

These skills can often be practiced in the moment or as preventative measures when challenges can be anticipated. Breathing exercises, mindfulness, positive self-talk, stretches and other similar activities can decrease stress and anxiety.

How can CBT help my recovery?

Cognitive behavioral therapy is one of the best tools that can help you in your recovery. Not only is it an evidence-based method of treatment, but it gives you tangible skills to combat distress, new and positive thinking habits and an outlet to process events and your response to them.

Like all psychotherapy, CBT gives you an opportunity to invest in your mental wellness so you can live a more full life. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, studies show that those who participate in CBT show changes in the brain, meaning CBT can improve cognitive functioning. This lasting impact is bound to affect other areas and improve your overall quality of life.

In addiction recovery, CBT can help you build skills that stick around long after treatment. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, one of the primary benefits of this treatment framework is the self-control you’ll develop by having CBT as part of your treatment plan.

How do I get CBT?

Cognitive behavioral therapy is generally included in the treatment of most mental health and substance use disorders. It is typical for providers to combine several frameworks, but CBT is almost always one of them.

Your mental health or addiction therapist can clue you in on the ins and outs of what CBT looks like in action. You can also work on CBT outside of treatment: Keep a journal of your thoughts and highlight the ones you hope to change. Spend some time reflecting on how you can replace the negative thoughts with more constructive ones.

While you can build on CBT at home, partaking in professional treatment is critical to your recovery. If mental illness or addiction is affecting your everyday life, Real Recovery Clinical Services offers cognitive behavioral therapy via a variety of treatment options. Call 855-363-7325 today to start changing your life for the better.