How Does Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Work?

How Does Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Work?

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is becoming increasingly popular, especially in the world of addiction treatment. While it’s likely that you’ve heard of it, you may still be wondering exactly what it is.

CBT is a form of psychotherapy that consists mainly of using techniques to reassess the way you think. A straightforward form of therapy, CBT’s goal is ultimately to change your negative thought patterns into positive ones. It’s empirically proven and is effective for treating a range of mental health concerns, including addiction, depression, anxiety, disordered eating, and relationship issues. CBT gives you a wealth of tools to deal with challenges in a healthy way, and research shows it can improve your quality of life.

At The Sanctuary, we support you in finding ways to feel better and make the change you want, and CBT is one of the many resources we use to do so.

So what is CBT, and how can it work for you? We’ll take a look at:

The Basic Principles of CBT

Cognitive-behavioral therapy is based on the belief that our lived experience has less to do with what happens to us, and more to do with how we think about what happened. Our human tendency is to create stories around certain events and relationships in life. And in turn, those become beliefs that then feed our addiction and mental health problems. CBT techniques are designed to help you change that.

Pioneered by psychologist Aaron Beck in the ‘60s, CBT asserts that psychological problems:

  • Are due to inaccurate ways of thinking
  • May be caused by conditioned behaviors
  • Can be remedied by developing new coping strategies

CBT raises our awareness of unconscious thoughts and behaviors. By taking steps to realign them with what we really want for ourselves, we can take back control of our mental health and better manage our lives.

Goals of CBT for Addiction, Anxiety, and Depression

CBT focuses on achieving certain therapeutic goals. Together, you and your therapist will set goals that make the most sense for your priorities during your time in treatment. These might include:

  • Learning how to change harmful thought patterns that lead to unwanted behaviors
  • Recognizing and shifting your automatic thoughts
  • Putting a stop to catastrophizing, black-and-white thinking and jumping to conclusions
  • Turning negative self-talk into a more positive, rational inner voice

To achieve these, CBT uses a variety of strategies.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Strategies

CBT uses several strategies to help you change your patterns of thought and behavior. Your approach to undoing fear-based reaction, for example, might be learning to overcome your fears instead of escaping them. If you struggle with distorted thinking, you may aim to find out the underlying cause of it and reexamine your destructive thoughts. And if you tend to blame others in your relationships, you may benefit from gaining perspective on their actions.

To encourage your progress, your therapist will introduce you to a number of techniques. These may include:

  • Journaling
  • Keeping track of your automatic thoughts
  • Role-playing (e.g. acting out an interaction you’re worried about)
  • “Thought stopping:” preventing yourself from going into an unconscious thought process
  • Relaxation practices for the body and mind

At the end of the day, CBT is all about building your toolkit for dealing with life’s inevitable adversities.

The Benefits of CBT  

One of CBT’s greatest advantages is that it offers a plethora of practical tools that you can easily apply in your daily life.

This therapy allows us to notice thoughts that we normally don’t pay attention to. In fact, we usually believe our automatic thoughts are true, though we seldom realize we’re having them at all. CBT challenges the assumptions underlying these thinking patterns and encourages us to ask ourselves what they really mean. Because whether or not we’re aware of what we think, it greatly affects how we feel.

Cognitive behavioral therapy can be effective over a short term – typically six to 10 sessions.

CBT at The Sanctuary

During your stay at The Sanctuary, you’ll meet with a psychotherapist regularly, both individually and in group sessions. You’ll have plenty of opportunities to process the thoughts and emotions that come up during your recovery journey, and gain tools for navigating your life in new ways. Clients find that this is hugely helpful to support intensive therapeutic work our program entails.

We integrate CBT into our holistic treatment approach and use it in conjunction with other therapies such as:

  • EMDR
  • TRE
  • Somatic experiencing
  • Acceptance commitment therapy (ACT)
  • Shadow work
  • Couples and family therapy
  • Individual and group process therapy
  • Inner child therapy

Take Control of Your Mental Health Now

While you can’t control the world around you, you can control how you understand and respond to it – and CBT can help you do that in a more empowering way. CBT is just one of the many effective therapies we employ at the therapy to help you gain perspective, increase your awareness, and start making different decisions about how you live.

Contact us today to learn more about the once-in-a-lifetime healing experience The Sanctuary offers.