Everyone can benefit from taking a deeper look at their thoughts and behaviors to identify problematic trends and reframe certain erroneous beliefs. Self-reflection is a factor that is especially relevant to anyone currently in treatment for a substance use disorder (SUD). Even if you are not struggling with the rehabilitation or continuing recovery process, it is essential to participate in group and one-on-one therapy. The most commonly utilized method of psychotherapy is cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT).

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Many researchers and certified therapists believe that “CBT is the gold-standard psychological treatment” for the following reasons: 

  • CBT was the first evidence-based treatment for psychotherapy.
  • CBT is the single most researched form of therapy.
  • No other therapy has been able to reach the same level of systematic success. 
  • The most accurate scientific information we possess on cognition and behaviors has created CBT’s standardization, making it highly successful.

What is CBT? 

CBT combines aspects of cognitive and behavioral therapies to accommodate treatment to suit each individual’s needs and circumstances. High adaptability is one of CBT’s greatest strengths. The primary idea behind CBT is the belief that our thoughts, feelings, and actions are interconnected and directly influence our mental and physical health. Research has supported this theory repeatedly.

CBT involves identifying unwanted behavioral patterns and connecting them to a root thought or belief. You will also be processing, identifying, and changing unwanted thought patterns that may be influencing behaviors or feelings. All of this is accomplished using a talk therapy approach to understanding and balancing the three cornerstones of CBT therapy: emotions, behaviors, and thoughts.

Who Can Benefit From CBT?

People diagnosed with the following mental health disorders will benefit the most from using CBT to treat their symptoms or underlying conditions:  

  • Anxiety disorders
  • Phobias
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Sleep disorders
  • Eating disorders (ED)
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Substance use disorders (SUD)
  • Schizophrenia
  • Sexual disorders

You do not have to be diagnosed with a mental health condition to benefit from using CBT. There is evidence that CBT can help lower stress levels in people who do not have a mental health disorder. 

Who Should Avoid CBT

CBT is not going to be useful for everyone. While it is the gold standard of treatments and the one used most for treating issues related to substance abuse, some people would get better results using therapy alternatives. 

Below are a few demographics that may not see the same overwhelmingly positive results that most people do when using CBT:

  • CBT is highly structured and standardized, meaning it may not help individuals who have learning disabilities or complex mental health disorders that impact communication and comprehension.
  • Research has shown that CBT has a lower success rate for people diagnosed with depression and bipolar disorder.
  • Evidence indicates there is no measurable benefit of using CBT to treat individuals diagnosed with schizophrenia. 

Limitations of CBT 

The main limitation of CBT is that it relies on the will and motivation of the person undergoing the treatment. A few other restrictions and things to consider if you want to use CBT are listed below: 

  • You will be stirring up powerful emotions and delving into thoughts, feelings, and beliefs that might be difficult to face. Not everyone is open to confronting these parts of themselves.
  • CBT requires a lot of personal work and growth between sessions using the tools you will learn from your therapist. Not everyone has the conviction or self-discipline necessary to practice what they know will help them grow. 
  • There is almost always a sharp uptick in unwanted feelings, including anxiety and depression, during the initial stages of therapy before you get used to using coping skills and processing. 
  • CBT is not a magic cure, and when progress does not happen in a linear fashion, many people get discouraged or upset. Like any other therapy, CBT requires time, patience, and hard work. 

How CBT Will Help Your Recovery 

During CBT, you will work with your therapist to challenge preconceived notions and long-held personal beliefs to determine if they hold up under objective scrutiny. There is no overstating the importance of doing this with thoughts surrounding your substance use and what actions led to addiction. Once you understand what causes you to behave in particular ways, you can start to change your thinking patterns and embrace healthier routines. You will unlearn the following negative habits: 

  • Always expecting the worst-case scenarios (or “catastrophizing”)
  • Minimizing positive events and emotions
  • Placing blame where it does not belong
  • A constant need to be correct regardless of context or circumstance
  • Judging yourself harshly and putting unrealistic expectations on yourself
  • Using all-or-nothing thinking

Useful CBT Exercises

Your therapist may assign you homework, and they will teach you exercises that you can use in everyday situations to control and balance your emotional responses. A few practical CBT exercises include:

  • Journaling thoughts and feelings
  • Practicing self-care by doing enjoyable activities
  • Challenging negative assumptions and thoughts with objective facts

We are here for you

At White House Recovery and Detox, our dedicated staff is here to help you choose the treatments that will give you the greatest advantages. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is one of the most respected and practiced forms of psychotherapy in rehabilitation facilities and sober living communities. CBT produces excellent results for anyone willing to do the difficult work. If you are ready to dedicate your time and energy to do what it takes to combat negative behaviors and thoughts, then CBT is right for you. You can use it alongside other psychotherapies to enhance the results. We can help you get started today.