(CBT) Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) ?

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is about changing perceptions to change behavior. The “cognitive model”, in essence, is based on the idea that our perceptions of situations in our lives are more closely linked to our behavior than the actual situations themselves. “I think I am not deserving” therefore, on a subconscious level, I will act in ways to help realize that self-image. By changing our perceptions, we can change our behavior in ways that help us lead happier more healthy lives. This can be especially true for anyone suffering from drug or alcohol addiction.

For the user, negative thinking patterns are an extremely common underlying cause of addiction. Changing those patterns can lead to long-term changes that eliminate the need for substance abuse.

At its root, CBT is time sensitive, “in the present” oriented collaborative training and behavior adjustment practiced by the therapist and the client. A therapeutic relationship between both the reforming substance abuser and the therapist is at the core of this kind of treatment.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) may use any number of different kinds of therapeutic practices. Some examples:

  • gestalt therapy
  • mindfulness training
  • dialectical behavior therapy
  • positive psychology
  • compassion focused therapy
  • solution focused therapy
  • motivational interviewing
  • interpersonal psychotherapy
  • psychodynamic psychotherapy
  • role-playing


The list goes on. Any of these may be used. The goal, again, is to redefine the patient’s perspective and interpretation of events to reinforce positive, healthy behavior that is an alternative to substance abuse.

By addressing the kinds of thinking patterns that lead to addiction in the first cognitive behavioral therapy can be a very powerful treatment for the substance abuser, especially if they have already completed detox and are on the road to recovery.

For this approach to be successful trust, above all, must be established between the therapist and the client. Without this basic trust, the collaboration will not be possible.

Identifying Negative Thought Patterns

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)

Identifying dysfunctional thinking is key to this approach. A common tactic the therapist will use to help the patient identify this kind of thinking will be to ask just what is going through the patient’s mind. Sharing, as accurately as possible plays an important role in moving forward. You can imagine how this might be troublesome without a sense of trust, and privacy for the patient. Therefore, the therapist and the patient base their relationship on safety and privacy above all. Everything that happens in these sessions, unlike group therapy, is confidential.

The client MUST be actively involved in the process, working collaboratively, as mentioned above, to learn new ways of thinking and reacting to the situations that may have been factors leading to addiction in the first place.It is all about changing behavior, and like other treatment approaches to address substance abuse, it all boils down to learning personal responsibility. But the therapeutic process gives one the safety and support to do this in a way that builds, rather than breaks down one’s sense of self-esteem and accomplishment. This is key to healing.

The types of distorted thinking that can contribute to addiction are called cognitive distortions.

Some of them are …
  • All-or-nothing thinking.
  • Seeing things in black and white terms with no “grey”. Everything is absolute and therefore unsolvable.
  • View events as unchangeable patterns.
  • Mental filtering.
  • Focusing only on the negatives.
  • Disqualifying the positive.
  • Refusing to believe that positives will work due to other forces that are more powerful
  • Jumping to conclusions.
  • Assuming thoughts and feelings are true without evidence.

Change Your Thinking Patterns

Changing our ways of thinking about ourselves and the circumstances in our lives can have an enormously positive effect on our lives. Regardless of whatever we have been through, we all deserve a second chance in life. Each of us is worth it and in order to get that chance, it starts with believing that we do deserve it and that we do have the power to change. Changing behavior is hard, but not impossible.  We are here to assist you in starting your recovery journey. Please contact us to learn about how CBT is integrated into our programs.

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