Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a psychotherapeutic technique designed to help people examine their thought patterns which lead to their self-destructive behavior. Patients will learn how they can challenge these thought patterns and change them to make better decisions. This type of psychotherapy is mainly used in the field of addiction treatment. It concentrates on enabling people to change the automatic negatives in their minds, which so often lead to depression, anxiety, and emotional problems. Successful cognitive behavioral therapy can help patients replace their current thought processes with objective, realistic thought patterns.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Core Principles
The core principles of cognitive behavioral therapy focus on altering thinking and behavioral patterns. It most often forms the bedrock of modern addiction treatment, but it can also be used to help people who suffer from common conditions like anxiety and depression. When implemented, the therapy has up to a 75% effectiveness rate. This makes it one of the most successful types of therapy in use.
Changing Thinking Patterns
Cognitive behavioral therapy dates back to the 1960s and the work of Aaron Beck. He was the first professional to identify what he termed as ‘automatic negative thoughts’. Patients who suffer from addiction, disorders, and emotional issues often find themselves trapped in the same thinking patterns. This forms the root of their self-destructive behaviors. For example, if a patient has a stressful day at work they may think the only way to cheer themselves up is to go to the bar and drink excessively.
Every time they have a stressful experience this is the result; this is an automatic negative thought pattern that influences their behavior. Cognitive behavioral therapy will teach patients how to better cope with stressful experiences by encouraging them to think differently. They will be taught to analyze how they think and then, challenge that thinking pattern. The whole point is to permanently change the negative thinking cycles patients find themselves in. This will eventually lead to a positive change in both their behavior and their daily emotional states.
Changing Behavioral Patterns
Changing a patient’s behavioral patterns is the second phase of cognitive behavioral therapy. A negative thought pattern leads to subsequent negative behavior. Once a negative thinking pattern has been successfully challenged, psychotherapists and patients will work together to make positive behavioral changes. Patients are encouraged to think about how they can better cope with potential triggers and what they can do instead.
For example, if a patient deals with stress, anxiety, or depression through alcohol or drug use, they will be asked to think about what they can do instead of caving into an addiction. Can they take a few minutes to process their thoughts in an objective, realistic way? Do they have other activities they can indulge in which are more conducive to physical and mental health? This is a complex process and, even though the therapy tends to be rigorously structured, the solution will be specific to the patient.
Setting New Goals
The final core principle of cognitive behavioral therapy is setting goals for the future. Goals are always specific to the patient and success can be measured in different ways. For example, if someone suffers from anger problems they may set a goal of summoning the willpower to walk away from conflict situations, rather than losing their temper. Goal-Setting will be done in conjunction with a professional psychotherapist to ensure new goals are realistic and not overly ambitious.
Measuring The Success Of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Cognitive behavioral therapy is considered to be highly effective because it is far easier to measure the success of this type of therapy than with other types. The responsibility for measuring success is managed by the therapist who will provide patients with methods in which they can measure their progress. The Neuropsychological Educational Approach to Cognitive Remediation (NEAR) is one option therapists use to measure weekly progress by having the patient complete a number of exercises.
Patients should also take time to reflect. Progress towards long-term goals, learning new skills, and other people noticing change are some ways in which patients are able to determine whether or not they are making progress. It is important to understand it will take months and years to initiate lasting change. Although the effectiveness of the therapy is highly regarded, it is not a silver bullet.
Consider Cognitive Behavioral Therapy with Aquila Recovery
Anyone undergoing cognitive behavioral therapy needs to understand progress is gradual. The more modules taken, the more effective therapy becomes. Consistency across an extended period of time is how people can be successful when submitting to this type of therapy. The primary aspect of cognitive behavioral therapy, which determines ultimate success, is that you have to want the help and you must be truly willing to make whole self changes. To find out more about cognitive behavioral therapy, and whether it is the ideal type of therapy for you, call Aquila Recovery Clinic at 202.618.9125 or schedule a consultation online today.