Individuals grappling with anxiety, trauma, and addiction can benefit from cognitive behavioral therapy. It’s an option that more and more rehab facilities now offer to clients. But what’s hiding behind the words? And how, exactly, does it work?
Understanding the Science Behind Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
In simplest terms, cognitive behavioral therapy deals with the relationship between your feelings, thoughts, and behaviors. Of course, there’s nothing simple about them when you start digging a little deeper. Your thoughts about a situation inevitably affect how you feel about it. These feelings, in turn, influence your behavior.
You can see how easily this fragile triangle can cause you to go off the rails. What happens if your thoughts in a situation hearken back to feelings you had about something similar years ago? What happens when the feelings color your actions in ways that are not germane to the current situation you’re dealing with? It’s easy to see how you might act in ways that are not appropriate.
From there, it’s a small step to feeling anxious, even if there’s no reason for anxiety. Moreover, you might feel the need to self-medicate to deal with these unwelcome feelings and thoughts. As they intrude, you’re unable to shut them out unless you numb your mind and body. Drug or alcohol abuse is a small step away.
On the flip side, there’s a way to harness the power of feelings, thoughts, and behaviors. In addiction counseling, including cognitive behavioral therapy, you empower one of those aspects–feelings, thoughts, or behaviors–that you have the most control over to influence the other two in a dance of healing.
In other words, it’s possible to deal with intrusive feelings by altering thought patterns. Or perhaps you have more control over your behaviors, which you might modify to affect the way you feel about something. It’s fair to say that this therapy puts you in control of changing thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that have lead to your addiction problem.
How Clients Experience Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in Substance Abuse Counseling
Why do you use drugs or alcohol? Some do it to numb themselves and not have thoughts intrude on them. Others do so to manage their anger or similar feelings. Still, others use because it makes them feel that they can handle certain situations they couldn’t handle without drugs or alcohol.
Clearly, thoughts, feelings, and behaviors play a crucial role in substance abuse. Therefore, cognitive behavioral therapy could be the ideal tool to undo some of the patterns that currently lead to using. Skilled therapists help you recognize areas where a perception error leads to flawed thinking, feeling, and acting. They call it uncovering the cognitive distortions.
However, this is where the similarities frequently end for the majority of clients at Healing Springs Ranch.
Each individual might suffer from different distortions that lead to a broad range of thoughts and actions. For example, black-and-white thinking makes it difficult to operate in a world where actions thrive on nuance. An individual no longer feels like she or he fits in and numbs the feelings of frustration that the thought patterns bring on. By helping this client to adjust their way of thinking, they eliminate the feelings of alienation that prompt frustration and subsequent self-medication.
Overcome Negative Thought Patterns
Another example of a distortion is the inability to overcome negative thoughts. By focusing on them intently, they color all interactions and feelings. This level of negativity quickly calls for an escape that drugs provide. To eliminate the need for escape, therapists can help someone overcome negative thought patterns with cognitive behavioral therapy.
Because everyone is different, therapists customize their therapeutic approaches to meet you where your needs are. Doing it any differently would fail to provide you with the individualized treatment you need for healing. This failure, in turn, could jeopardize the long-term outcome of your treatment, which is long-term sobriety and relapse prevention. It’s possible to combine cognitive behavioral therapy for addiction with a treatment for a co-occurring disorder such as anxiety.
Combining the Practice with Other Proven Therapy Approaches
At its root, cognitive behavioral therapy is a skill-building process. Treatment moves at a speed that the client sets for individual progress. Some people work quickly and can resolve distorted thinking or feelings in a short time. Others take a little longer, which requires the therapist, who functions as the collaborator, to slow the process down.
In the role of partner, a therapist helps you to pinpoint distorted thought patterns. When you need a gentle nudge, the therapist will challenge you to reconsider your responses. Because doing so allows you to replace unwelcome behaviors with positive coping skills, the challenges are opportunities for growth. But to work well, it’s imperative that this modality becomes part of a whole-person approach that fosters overall well-being.
Examples of a modalities mix for this approach might include:
- Experiential therapies featuring role-playing, guided imagery, the use of props, and a range of other active experiences
- Nutritional wellness focus that assists you with making healthier lifestyle choices and supporting physical well-being
- Trauma treatment to address unresolved situations that affect possible current-day thoughts and feelings
- Readiness preparation for outpatient treatment to provide effective aftercare and relapse prevention for long-term sobriety
- Family program availability to treat not only the individual but also the members of the family to which she or he will return
Expanded Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Cognitive behavioral therapy fits neatly into this treatment concept because it allows for an expansion to other modalities. For example, it’s possible to employ it within family therapy or trauma treatment. As you progress through the whole-person treatment approach that Healing Springs Ranch offers, you’ll notice changes. You gain self-esteem and self-confidence in relationships, which helps you with saying “yes” or “no” in the appropriate situation.
This treatment translates well into daily life situations where stress, disappointment, and worry might otherwise cause you to use. Because you practice thought pattern recognition and replacement before returning home, you’ll be able to pick up on problems. Since the therapy allows for group sessions as well as individual counseling, you’ll already be familiar with getting peer input. This peer group can now be a valuable sounding board for questions and reality checks.
You begin to recognize distorted thinking without needing a therapist to help you see it. Because you’ve received the tools you need to restructure your thought processes, you can make desired changes. You’re no longer at the mercy of past hurts, fears, or confusion. As a result, you are your own best ally in relapse prevention.
Is This Therapy Method Suitable for Everyone?
The vast majority of clients do exceptionally well with cognitive behavioral therapy. There’s little harm potential, and you stand to gain a lot from undergoing it. Most individuals agree that they’ve succeeded in regulating emotions that used to hold them hostage. That said, this modality is not for everyone.
A small number of people feel too much pressure during the therapy sessions. Because the treatment progresses rapidly, they sometimes feel that the changes are too fast for them to process. For these program participants, dialectical behavior therapy may be a better option. It moves at a slower pace and involves a non-judgmental assessment of attitudes and thought patterns.
In fact, it’s an offshoot of cognitive behavioral therapy, which makes it very easy to switch modalities based on individual needs. If you think that this might be a better option for you, we recommend using our 90-day residential treatment program. Doing so gives you about three months to work through the various aspects of the therapy and benefit from its precepts.
Learn More about Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Addiction Treatment Today
Developing wellness is not something that happens in a vacuum. It takes concerted actions of trained therapists who partner with clients to overcome challenges. Because this addiction treatment makes it possible to overcome self-destructive behavioral patterns, there’s no denying its effectiveness.
And since most individuals move rapidly through this therapy, it’s ideally suited for both short-term and standard residential treatment. You may also use its lessons during aftercare and in the case of hitting a bump in the road. Granted, the goal is complete sobriety that lasts a lifetime. But dealing with a chronic disease such as addiction does pose the risk of relapse.
If you find yourself in a situation where you recognize that you’re in danger of relapsing, we’re here to help. If you’ve already relapsed, you can come back to this home away from home for a refresher stay. We help you pick up where you need a little additional help. In addition, while you’re here, you may work with a therapist through any distorted thought or feeling patterns that you have discovered.
If you or a loved one struggles with a substance abuse problem, psychotherapy can hold the key to sobriety. Why give drugs or alcohol another day to rob you of life’s enjoyment? Contact the friendly, expert counselors at Healing Springs Ranch to learn more about the treatment options open to you. Dial 866-656-8384 now for immediate assistance.