If you have been wondering “how does cognitive behavioral therapy work?”, this form of psychotherapy is proven effective for alleviating the symptoms of the following conditions:
- Anxiety disorders
- Substance use disorders
- Alcohol use disorders
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Eating disorders
- Marital issues
How is cognitive behavioral therapy done, then?
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: How Does it Work?
CBT is a form of psychotherapy. Founded in the 1960s by Dr. Aaron Beck, cognitive behavioral therapy is primarily used to treat depression and anxiety, and can be effectively applied to other aspects of mental and physical health.
Psychotherapy is the clinical term for talk therapy. As the name implies, talking is foundational to this form of psychosocial intervention. Cognitive behavioral therapy, when implemented with behavioral therapy, can help you to manage problems by changing your thoughts and behaviors.
Cognitive behavioral therapy makes the following assumptions, according to APA (the American Psychological Association):
- Many psychological issues are underpinned by problematic thinking.
- These learned patterns of behavior can be unhelpful and damaging.
- You can learn more productive ways of thinking and behaving.
- By using healthier coping skills learned through CBT, you can reduce the intensity of symptoms and improve daily functioning through the cultivation of new, healthy habits.
CBT sessions are led by the following professionals:
- Licensed social workers
Where some therapies involve delving into the past, CBT is sharply focused on the present. Past behaviors are acknowledged but CBT emphasizes using problem-oriented strategies to help you more comfortably negotiate life’s everyday stressors.
How is CBT Done?
Your cognitive behavioral therapist will help you to identify the thought patterns and behaviors causing issues in your life. The specifics will vary from person to person and depending on the condition being treated with CBT. The therapist will guide you toward influencing how you act when certain thoughts arise rather than being trapped in a self-defeating cycle of automatic behaviors triggering negative outcomes.
One of the core advantages of cognitive behavioral therapy is the way it teaches you to become your own therapist. Once proficient with the techniques of CBT, you will empower yourself and gain the ability to alter problematic patterns of thinking, to control your emotions more effectively, and to change your behaviors.
The central pillars of CBT enabling you to achieve this are as follows:
- Identification: Your cognitive behavioral therapist will teach you to identify problematic thoughts, emotions, and behaviors.
- Recognition: The more confidently you recognize these negative thoughts and actions, the more capably you can interrupt these thoughts and actions.
- Management: You’ll use the techniques of CBT to ease your mind and body, and to avoid engaging in poor, self-defeating behaviors.
Cognitive behavioral therapy harnesses a wide variety of techniques used in a personalized combination.
- Discovering how flawed and inaccurate thinking can inflame problems.
- Strengthening your problem-solving skills.
- Improving your confidence and self-worth.
- Confronting challenges and fears.
- Furthering your understanding of the thinking and motivations of others.
- Practicing calming techniques.
The further you progress with cognitive behavioral therapy, the more confidently you will become at replacing unhelpful and self-defeating thoughts with more realistic and positive thoughts.
To help you explore the above concepts, your therapist will use any or all of the following specific techniques:
- Regular discussion sessions, either one-to one or face-to-face
- Role-playing activities
- Frequent feedback
- Thought recording
- Guided questioning
- Calming techniques for body and mind
- Setting specific, measurable, and achievable goals you can accomplish in a reasonable timeframe
- Cognitive restructuring
- Situation exposure
- Positive activities
- Systematic desensitization
How does cognitive behavioral therapy work for substance abuse, then?
How Does it Work for Substance Abuse?
CBT was first used to treat major depressive disorder, but research shows it can also help treat the symptoms of alcohol use disorder and substance use disorder.
Many people abusing drugs or alcohol struggle with negative patterns of thinking opposing their recovery goals. CBT can help anyone with an addiction to identify these negative thought patterns, and also to replace them with adaptive and positive thought patterns.
CBT can be beneficial for the treatment of substance use issues in the following areas:
- Identifying poor and self-destructive thoughts and actions.
- Continuously monitoring these thoughts and actions.
- Using an adaptive way of thinking.
- Applying the techniques learned in new situations.
- Utilizing healthier coping strategies when confronted with stressors.
CBT can be a vital component of treatment for both drug addiction and alcoholism in combination with MAT, counseling, and holistic therapies.
How long does cognitive behavioral therapy take to work, though?
How Long Does Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Take to Work?
Most CBT treatment involves 30 to 60-minute sessions over a course of 3 to 5 months.
Intensive CBT offers much longer therapy sessions concentrated into a shorter period. This is a newly emerging modality, though, so more research is needed to establish its effectiveness.
You can also engage with online CBT sessions if you are unable to access face-to-face treatment.
So, you could notice some benefits from cognitive behavioral therapy after just a few sessions, with those benefits compounding over the 5 to 20 sessions usually required to address the underlying issue.
CBT at The District Recovery Community
Here at The District Recovery Community, we specialize in the outpatient treatment of substance use disorder, alcohol use disorder, and co-occurring disorder. For anyone requiring more intensive treatment, we also offer IOPs (intensive outpatient programs) and PHPs (partial hospitalization programs). Get the treatment you need without needing to spend a month or more in residential rehab, and without the prohibitive costs.
All our treatment programs utilize research-based therapies, including cognitive behavioral therapy to complement medication-assisted treatment, counseling, and holistic therapies.
Through the delivery of CBT sessions, our experienced treatment team will help you to cope more confidently with life’s stressors without resorting to poor behaviors. Make this happen and get your recovery on the road by calling TDRC admissions today at 844.287.8506.