It’s easy for those not struggling with an addiction to pass judgment and make assumptions. Most believe that those struggling just made bad decisions and hung out with the “bad crowd.” However, nothing could be further from the truth. Addiction is a disease that can be made worse by the negative behavior and thought patterns of an individual. Through cognitive behavioral therapy in Los Angeles, clients can end these negative patterns and work towards a life in sobriety.

What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?

group of friends who have benefitted from cognitive behavioral therapy

Cognitive-behavioral therapy probes the conflicts between what we want to do and what we actually do. Addiction is an example of this type of behavior.

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, or CBT, is a type of “talk” therapy that places a major focus on the behavior and thought patterns (cognition) of the client. This evidence-based approach to therapy helps the client understand how their negative attitude and thoughts can directly affect their behavior. Adding cognition to behavior therapy developed cognitive-behavioral therapy.

CBT is a short-term goal-oriented treatment that takes a practical path to problem-solving. The goal is to change the patterns of behavior or thinking that led to the person’s difficulties. It can be used to treat a variety of issues, from sleeping complications to drug and alcohol abuse. 

It works by changing an individual’s attitudes and behaviors by pinpointing the thoughts, images, beliefs, and attitudes that the person has (cognitive processes) and the relationships that cause the person to behave in certain ways to deal with emotional problems. It can be thought of as a combination of psychotherapy and behavioral therapy.  

Psychotherapy stresses the importance of the personal meaning we have for things and how thinking patterns start during childhood. Behavioral therapy focuses on the relationship between our problems, our behavior, and our thoughts.

Once you identify these connections, you can begin to learn new strategies to cope and manage your emotions and thoughts both during and after treatment. Creating these foundations will help clients as they leave treatment and begin to live a life in sobriety.

The process of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy tends to be more collaborative with the client and therapist working closely together. In other therapies, the therapist tends to instruct the client on how to proceed with their treatment. With CBT, the two work together to create long-term goals and short-term objectives. They also work together to determine the best course of action to reach these objectives and goals.

The Benefits of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy does more than just help an individual break their cycle of addiction. As you participate in CBT, you are actively reteaching your brain how to think and process emotions. In doing so, you experience several benefits, but there are two very important ones.

  1. Becoming a more rational individual. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy helps you rationally think out scenarios and problems when they arise instead of jumping to a worst-case scenario. Not only will this help avoid negative emotions, but it’ll also help you solve the problem more efficiently and effectively. Rational thinking also leads to controlled thinking, where you have a better hold of your thoughts and emotions when you face negative problems or situations. Instead of turning to illicit substances to cope with an onslaught of negative emotions, you can use your coping mechanisms to work past the problem. By ending these negative patterns, you also end feeling poorly about yourself. Having a better attitude and thought process will help you care more about yourself. You will also think about yourself in a more positive light. Most psychotherapists who use CBT personalize and customize the therapy to meet the needs of each specific patient.
  2. Emphasis on long-term maintenance. People who misuse alcohol and other drugs often experience relapse incidents. Therapists teach patients new attitudes and skills to rely on in the long run. This not only improves the patient’s feeling of self-reliance but also leads to a reduction in life pressures that might increase the risk of relapse. Research shows that the skills learned in CBT remain with the patient long after the completion of treatment. New studies are focusing on how to develop more powerful effects by combining CBT with other types of behavioral therapies. The approaches to CBT that became popular at the end of the 20th century are now being updated. Thanks to the new wave of behavioral therapies that focus on mindfulness, acceptance, and living in the moment.

Why Have Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?

As acknowledged previously, CBT is used to deal with a variety of issues. It’s frequently the preferred choice of psychologists because it can help the patient quickly identify and cope with specific problems.

Addiction is an undeniable example of a pattern of behavior that goes against what the person having the experience really wants to do. You may sincerely want to change the behavior but find it is extremely difficult to do. 

According to the cognitive behavior theory, addictive behaviors like drinking, drug use, gambling, and other types of excessive behaviors are the result of faulty thoughts and negative feelings.

CBT is useful to address emotional issues and can help you:

  • Manage symptoms of mental illness and addiction
  • Prevent a relapse 
  • Treat a mental illness or addiction when medications aren’t an option
  • Learn methods of coping with stressful situations
  • Identify ways to control emotions
  • Learn better ways to communicate and resolve conflicts
  • Cope with grief or loss
  • Overcome trauma related to abuse or violence
  • Deal with a medical illness
  • Manage chronic physical symptoms

CBT may improve mental health disorders such as:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Phobias
  • PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder)
  • Sleep disorders
  • Eating disorder
  • OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder)
  • Substance use disorders
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Schizophrenia
  • Sexual disorders

Sometimes, CBT is most effective when combined with other treatments such as antidepressants and medications.

CBT as Short-Term Therapy

Cognitive-behavioral therapy is considered short-term therapy in most cases. It lasts from about five to twenty sessions. Your therapist will discuss what is right for you. Factors that decide the length of therapy include:

  • Type of disorder or situation
  • Severity of symptoms
  • How long you’ve had the symptoms
  • How quickly you progress
  • How much stress you’re under
  • How much support you get from family members and others

Cognitive-Behavioral Family Therapy

Cognitive-behavioral family therapy is a method of family therapy that is designed to change the patterns of interaction among family members. It is based on the view that members of a family are simultaneously and/or influenced by each other’s actions. The actions of one family member lead to behaviors and emotions in other members.

Skills You Learn in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

These are just some of the skills you will learn:

  • Learning to delay and distract in response to cravings by keeping busy with activities like writing, going to meetings, or other positive things.
  • Recognizing dysfunctional ways of thinking such as giving permission to take a break from sobriety and replacing it with the realization that recovery is what is needed.
  • Practicing a collection of assertive comments to politely but firmly turn down offers of a drink or other substance.
  • Learning to solve problems directly and completely instead of trying to avoid it by getting impaired.
  • Becoming familiar with the “pros and cons” of using alcohol and other drugs compared to the pros and cons of being sober.
  • Practicing the behaviors of self-respect. This includes countering the beliefs that undermine your self-esteem and lead to helplessness and hopelessness.
  • Use healthy social support such as 12-step meetings and other groups that support sobriety.
  • Make lifestyle changes that support sobriety and self-sufficiency. This includes having a healthy daily routine and participating in meaningful hobbies and activities.

Risks of CBT

Generally speaking, there is very little risk in cognitive behavioral therapy, except you may feel a little uncomfortable at times. CBT will cause you to examine painful experiences and emotions, which might make you get upset, cry, or feel angry during a difficult session.

A form of CBT known as exposure therapy may require you to confront situations you’d rather not. This often results in some temporary stress or anxiety. Working with a skillful therapist will lessen any risks. The coping skills you learn will help you overcome any fears or negative feelings.

History of CBT

Cognitive-behavioral therapy was invented in the 1960s by the psychiatrist, Aaron Beck. He had observed that his patients seemed to have an internal dialogue in their minds during the psychotherapy sessions. It was almost like they were talking to themselves. But they only told him a fraction of what they were thinking.

The patient might be thinking that the doctor hasn’t said much during the session. This might call for the patient to respond to himself that maybe he’s not saying the right things. This internal dialogue might change how the client is feeling. 

Beck realized that the tie between thoughts and feelings was important and coined the term “automatic thoughts” to describe emotional thoughts that pop into people’s minds. It was discovered that identifying those automatic thoughts that were usually negative and not realistic was the key to the patient understanding and overcoming his problems. It was initially used as a method to prevent relapse in the treatment of alcohol use disorder (AUD). 

CBT is therefore based on the theory that it is not the events in our lives that upset us, but the meanings we give them.

Begin with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Today!

Want to begin with cognitive behavioral therapy to help with your treatment? Interested in other Los Angeles addiction therapy programs available to you? Begin your journey now and contact LA Detox 

You have made the first step by admitting you may need some type of therapy. You do. Now make the call and begin your journey to recovery. Every patient is important to us, and every treatment plan is designed to address each individual’s needs.