Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

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Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in Delray

While there are many forms of treatment used to combat addiction, cognitive behavioral therapy is arguably the most important. As a client-centered and goal-oriented psychotherapeutic modality, CBT embodies many of the principles that guide clinical addiction treatment today. At Serene Beginnings, we recognize the importance of cognitive behavioral therapy for addiction, which is why this form of psychotherapy serves as the foundation of our intensive outpatient programs.

How CBT Can Help

What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?

There are many different types of psychotherapy or counseling, and each of them has specific uses and applications. In addition to having numerous different use cases, many psychotherapeutic techniques are used in the treatment of substance abuse problems; however, among them, the cognitive-behavioral style of psychotherapy is widely considered to be the most effective for a couple key reasons.

First, cognitive behavioral therapy is a short-term form of psychotherapy. For this reason, CBT is particularly useful in the treatment of addiction because most individuals who enroll in addiction treatment programs are only in active treatment for brief periods of time. In short, the idea is that the various psychological problems people develop over the course of active addiction are frequently related to their past experiences as well as their individual cognitions. Additionally, cognitive behavioral therapy is considered to be an extremely goal-oriented approach in that it helps patients to (a) recognize their problems, (b) identify the sources of those problems, and (c) develop strategies for overcoming those problems, which means they’re no longer putting their health and well-being in jeopardy. Similarly, overcoming the factors that contributed to their addictions will ensure that they have as minimal a chance of relapsing as possible.

Originally, the cognitive-behavioral method of psychotherapy was designed for use with individuals who suffered from alcoholism and alcohol abuse problems. But as cognitive behavioral therapy was used with people suffering from alcoholism, we realized that this form of therapy was helping them to identify the causes of their problematic drinking behavior; in particular, some of the most frequent causes include having a history of exposure to alcohol abuse behavior and having an inability to cope with stress as well as numerous other negative emotions in a constructive way. Over a period of its use, the cognitive-behavioral method of therapy proved to offer a marked improvement in a variety of psycho-emotional symptoms, thereby suggesting possible value in many other situations. In fact, this is why CBT continues to hold a central place in addiction treatment programs around the world.

How Does This Help?

CBT for Addiction Therapy

Considering the improvements that patients suffering from alcohol abuse problems experienced as a result of the cognitive-behavioral method, it should come as no surprise that this form of therapy would continue to be used for all types of substance abuse problems today. Among others, the primary reason for this is because cognitive behavioral therapy and it's practice exhibit certain characteristics that make it practically ideal for use as part of an addiction treatment program. As mentioned previously, CBT is characterized as a short-term, goal-oriented psychotherapeutic modality.

In practice, this means that with cognitive behavioral therapy, there’s a major focus on an individual’s most urgent problems as well as on finding immediate solutions to those problems. Since the majority of addiction treatment programs last between one and three months, the use of such a short-term, goal-oriented approach to psychotherapy helps to ensure that each patient achieves the most symptom improvement possible, particularly given the limited amount of time that’s spent in active treatment.

For a moment, let’s consider how cognitive-behavioral psychotherapy for addiction actually works: At the start of the treatment period between a psychotherapist and a patient, the therapist will help the patient to identify thoughts, feelings, beliefs, attitudes, and any other predispositions that might be the source of his or her substance abuse. Once the underlying source(s) of the substance abuse problem has been identified, the therapist and patient can proceed with the focus being on understanding why those thoughts, feelings, and attitudes — or “cognitions” — even exist in the first place. The idea is that, when the patient better understands why he or she is thinking and behaving the way he or she is, the individual will be better able to mitigate the maladaptive cognitions with guidance from the therapist. In particular, the therapist will help the patient overcoming maladaptive cognitions by teaching him or her a variety of useful skills that will help the patient cope in more productive ways that don’t involve alcohol or drug use.

Benefits of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Substance Abuse

What Are The Benefits of Our CBT Program?

There are several key benefits to using the cognitive-behavioral approach as a central strategy in the treatment of substance abuse and addiction. Of course, one of the most important (and obvious) benefits is that this particular form of psychotherapeutic intervention is very patient-centered; rather than the therapist essentially leading the sessions by guiding the patient through a series of seemingly arbitrary and preselected topics, the sessions are completely dependent on the patient’s place in the overall addiction recovery process as well as his or her background, anything that might be on the individual’s mind on a given day, and the specific, underlying factors that are likely to have contributed to the individual’s alcohol or drug problem. In fact, even the skills that the therapist teaches a patient — which are typically intended to help the patient mitigate the causes of substance abuse so as to minimize the chance of relapse in the future — are extremely personalized and dependent on the patient’s specific needs and unique background.

When it comes to the actual cause of a substance abuse problem, research has shown that many people turn to alcohol and drugs due to their having never learned the types of coping skills necessary to deal with stress, anxiety, anger, adversity, and other intense or negative emotional situations. For these individuals with poor coping skills, cognitive behavioral therapy offers an opportunity to learn those essential coping skills as well as a multitude of other strategies, which will allow them to live healthy, productive lives and be part of their communities. Moreover, many individuals who suffer from substance abuse disorders also suffer from co-occurring, or comorbid, mental health problems, which often go unidentified until the patient receives cognitive-behavioral forms of psychotherapy.

It’s important to remember, too, that when a comorbid mental illness is present, it’s quite likely that the comorbid illness was a contributing factor in the development of the addiction; therefore, ensuring that the mental illness is addressed will minimize the likelihood that the mental illness would perpetuate a substance abuse problem.

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