Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

What is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy?

CBT has helped countless people the world over to change how they see the world and interact with others.

  • CBT helps with a wide range of issues, including substance abuse, PTSD, and anxiety
  • CBT is one of the most widely used forms of therapy in the UK
  • It can be used to form both short and long-term solutions to emotional and behavioural issues.

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    What is cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)?

    CBT is a common method of therapy in addiction rehab and treatment but is also used to treat a multitude of other conditions, such as: 

    • Anxiety disorders
    • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
    • Bipolar Disorder
    • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
    • Eating Disorders
    • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

    For those suffering from substance addiction and/or addictive behaviours, CBT can show that harmful actions and negative emotions associated with behaviour or substance abuse may be linked to past experiences, trauma, and environmental factors. 

    Once a client can understand why they feel a certain way towards a substance or behaviour, they can effectively learn to undo the connection between the emotional response and the thought process that leads to abuse.

    Many therapists ask for detailed histories, including autobiographies, in order to bring out the pertinent life experiences which are affecting the person in the present.

    These instinctive negative thought patterns are often referred to as automatic thoughts, negative impulses that are often built through misconceptions and internalized feelings that can cause doubt and fear. In order to regulate these automatic thoughts, people will often attempt to self-medicate by numbing the emotional response through drug and alcohol abuse.  

    Automatic thoughts will often be linked to painful memories and past trauma, and by revisiting these instances regularly a patient can unlearn the connections that they currently have and replace them with positive behaviours and ideation.

    What methods are used in CBT?

    The techniques and exercises developed in cognitive behavioural therapy are designed to be practised both inside and outside the therapist’s office. Many are designed to be continuous exercises in mental growth and healing and can be done from home or in group settings. Support Groups like SMART Recovery Training incorporate various CBT techniques as part of their self-help exercises.

    Keeping a physical copy of your thoughts can help realise patterns of response

    Clients are encouraged to keep a log of automatic negative thoughts and explore what evidence there is to prove or disprove them. The purpose of this exercise is to help the patient critically examine these thoughts in depth and dismiss thoughts that are baseless or harsh to themselves without reason.

    Experimenting with response types to identify positive/negative outcomes

    Behavioural experiments require a level of dedication and self-awareness in a patient to compare both negative and positive thoughts to evaluate which is most positive towards behaviour.

    Some people will respond better to kind thoughts about themselves whereas others may benefit from being more self-critical. The purpose of this technique is to figure out which thought process works best for each individual.

    Revisiting painful memories can help break down fear and build confidence

    This technique can be intense for those who are beginning CBT but it is an important exercise for dealing with negative thoughts. In imagery-based exposure, the patient must revisit memories that hold powerfully negative feelings. By constantly revisiting these events and memories the client can reduce the pain and anxiety caused by them. These experiences can be difficult or even scary at first, but the long-term benefits can be enormous.

    CBT is just one option for those seeking therapy

    Is cognitive behavioural therapy right for me?

    CBT is commonly used in addiction treatment and other situations as it is a proven way of managing negative impulses and thoughts but some people do not respond to it as well as others. 

    To see if CBT will be the right course of therapy to help treat you, speak to a specialist today. Booking a consultation with a GP, speaking to an addiction specialist (if your issue is to do with substance misuse), or booking an introductory session with a therapist can help you identify if CBT is the right form of treatment for you.

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