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What Is Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy?

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Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is the cornerstone of many different therapeutic practices in addiction recovery. Tackling an unhealthy relationship with drugs or alcohol will commonly incorporate CBT in some capacity. It is a highly malleable therapeutic approach taking many forms and practices. Those just beginning their journey through detox or residential treatment can be intimidated by its enigmatic nature. 

Understanding cognitive-behavioral therapy and its intents can help those beginning their journey to overcome an addiction to drugs or alcohol take their first step with confidence. Doing so can open an individual up to the transformative effects of CBT and other therapeutic approaches. 

The Basics of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy

While cognitive-behavioral therapy takes many forms, all approaches share a common goal. CBT seeks to understand how an individual’s thoughts and perspective (cognitive) impact how they behave or react (behavioral), thus informing how thought patterns then manifest as actions. The therapeutic practice is based on the idea that one’s actions and mental state are informed by learned, unhealthy thought patterns and behaviors. By identifying unfair, unhealthy ways of thinking, an individual can better cope with them and relieve some of these mental and emotional hardships. 

The Goal of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy

The primary goal of cognitive-behavioral therapy is to help those in recovery identify the connection between their thoughts and behaviors, and challenge these learned patterns to gain a better sense of agency. This can mean identifying and analyzing perceptions that may not be based in reality, such as jumping to unlikely conclusions or challenging anxiety or depression. Identifying unhealthy thought patterns can empower those in recovery to challenge their behaviors and self-defeating beliefs. Doing so can help them manage their emotional state and unhealthy relationship with addictive substances. 

Cognitive-behavioral therapy also seeks to better understand one’s motivations, as well as the motivations of others. Identifying these driving forces that cause each individual to take action can allow those in recovery to set effective goals and identify role models that embody certain traits. They do so while also gaining a better understanding of their own motivations, urges, and thoughts. 

CBT is, at its core, an exercise in agency. Individuals are challenged with confronting unhealthy thoughts, ideas, and behaviors, and tasked with using problem-solving skills to develop personalized strategies to change these modes of thinking. Coping with difficult situations, stresses, and emotional states is difficult, but also allows those in recovery to develop a higher sense of agency and confidence as they continue toward their sober goals. 

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy in Practice

Cognitive-behavioral therapy takes many forms, meaning that it can be adjusted and changed to the practices that best help an individual combat mental health disorders or alcohol or drug addiction. Talk therapy is a common introduction to the practice. Professionals help those in recovery identify recurring or unhealthy thought patterns and explore how they impact their behaviors, especially when it comes to the reasons behind the use of addictive substances. 

These approaches also typically allow individuals to confront fears or anxieties in a safe environment to better understand the driving forces behind these feelings and responses. From here, a personalized plan is created to challenge these aspects of their recovery. 

Role-playing is another common tactic to safely expose an individual to stressful situations and navigate them while practicing problem-solving skills. By introducing a person to difficult situations, they can create a coping plan while challenging preconceived notions or inherent responses that may be detrimental to their health and sobriety. Seeing professionals and peers act in these situations, utilizing role-reversals, and more can all add different perspectives, helping to further understand motivations, reactions, and more.

The Connection of Body and Mind

This approach seeks to establish a healthy connection between one’s mind and body and often utilizes various strategies to begin exploring this connection. Mindfulness practices are commonly used. This is where an individual focuses their attention and energy inward to be more aware of the physical responses and experiences of their body. Others may utilize breathing techniques in order to challenge a stressed or anxious mind, creating a clearer headspace before acting on any ill-advised behaviors and thus prioritizing a healthier lifestyle. 

Yoga, meditation, and even physical activities can all cause an individual to gain a better sense of control over their bodies and minds. By understanding stresses and one’s inherent emotional responses, each individual can then create a plan alongside professionals and supports to challenge these preconceived notions. 

Cognitive-behavioral therapy never takes just a single form and is often used in conjunction with other therapeutic approaches, building upon the skills and efficacy therein. Utilizing cognitive-behavioral therapy alongside other practices can help each individual create a healthy, robust set of coping strategies and approaches. CBT is a great standard with which to begin an effective, transformative journey to sobriety and a healthy future. 

Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a major component of many different therapeutic strategies, and whether you are coping with difficult mental health concerns, an addiction to drugs or alcohol, or both simultaneously, Pacific Sands Recovery Center can help you today. We understand your complex needs in recovery, and we are prepared to create a personalized recovery plan that is right for you. Through each stage of recovery, from detox to outpatient care, we can adapt your time with us to find the best practices to build on your strengths while helping support you through your vulnerabilities and concerns. We utilize CBT as well as a myriad of other therapeutic approaches personalized for you. For more information on how we can create a recovery plan that is right for you, or to speak to a caring, trained staff member about your unique needs and goals, call us today at (949) 426-7962.

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