What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?
Cognitive behavioral therapy is a technique that identifies the negative thought patterns that may influence a client’s behavior. These destructive thought patterns play a significant role in the development of an addiction; by breaking the cycle of unhealthy thinking, clients can learn how to replace their old behaviors with new, constructive ones. When used to treat addiction, CBT sessions focus on helping the client develop coping skills to handle cravings and high-risk situations.
Understanding the Benefits
Cognitive behavioral therapy has multiple features that add to its value in addiction treatment. A few key benefits of this technique include:
- Evidence of effectiveness: Whether it’s used alone or in conjunction with other treatment techniques, CBT has a solid record of clinical data to prove its value.
- Short term: Compared with other forms of therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy is a fairly short-term treatment technique. Most clients complete CBT within 12 to 16 weeks.
- Flexibility: Cognitive behavioral therapy can be used on a broad variety of patients, and it is equally effective in both inpatient and outpatient settings. It also lends itself well to both individual and group sessions.
- Collaborative approach: A CBT therapist doesn’t tell the client what to do. A therapy session is a collaboration between the therapist and the client where the therapist learns what the client wants to change and then helps them accomplish their goals.
- Compatibility: CBT works well in conjunction with many other forms of therapy, including pharmacological treatment, 12-step programs, family therapy and more.
Limitations and Drawbacks
While cognitive behavioral therapy has many benefits when it’s used as part of an addiction treatment plan, a few limitations of the technique need to be considered. CBT works best on a motivated client; it’s not as effective for overcoming the ambivalence that many addicted individuals feel regarding treatment.
This form of therapy can also backfire in certain cases. Some clients mistakenly conclude that bad things have happened to them because they’ve had bad feelings and thoughts. In other cases, clients with anxiety may become more anxious when they begin to focus intently on their thoughts.
Cognitive behavioral therapy can play an important role in your addiction treatment plan. Combined with other forms of therapy and support, CBT can help you break the cycle of unhealthy thoughts that fuel addictive behaviors. If you or someone you love is struggling with drug or alcohol addiction, help is available.