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What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?

Cognitive behavioral therapy or CBT is a type of talk therapy that is used to treat a variety of conditions. This psychotherapy is especially helpful for addiction. Read on to learn what CBT is and why it is used for addiction.

How Does CBT Work?


The first step of CBT is education. Your therapist will help you learn how your thoughts influence your feelings and behaviors. If you are like most people, you probably don’t spend a lot of time thinking about your thoughts. Thoughts are largely automatic. However, what you believe directly influences what you feel and how you behave. For example, if you are searching for a job online and see one you like, you might think “they’ll never hire me. I am terrible at everything.” This thought will likely make you feel bad about yourself. It may even shatter your self-confidence. You probably won’t bother with applying for the job since you don’t think that you will get hired.  You might feel even more hopeless and down. If you are in recovery from alcohol dependence, these feelings could very well trigger a relapse.

Cognitive Restructuring

Your therapist will use cognitive restructuring to help you identify and challenge negative thoughts like the example above. This practice will help you develop greater self-awareness so that you can better recognize ideas that lead to anxiety, depression and other negative feelings. You will learn how to challenge and modify these thoughts. Using the above example, your therapist might have you change the thought to “That is not true. I am good at X, Y, and Z. And, they are looking for someone with these skills.” This thought is much more helpful. You will be more likely to follow through on applying for the job and thus more likely to get hired. This process can help boost your self-confidence and happiness.

Skill Building

Part of CBT involves building skills to help you manage stress. You will work on breathing and other coping exercises both during the sessions and at home. Daily practice of CBT skills is necessary to see results.

What Is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Used To Treat?

Therapists use cognitive behavioral therapy to treat a variety of conditions. It is especially helpful in treating co-occurring substance abuse and mental health disorders. Here are a few of the disorders that CBT can help address:

The benefits of CBT

Cognitive behavioral therapy has many benefits. It can help you:

  • Prevent substance abuse relapse

  • Manage mental health issues

  • Overcome trauma and grief

  • Improve relationships

  • Cope with a chronic medical illness

  • Learn to cope with stressful events

How Long Does CBT Take to Work?

Many clients like CBT because it is a cost-effective solution. Results are typically seen within five months or so. However, each person is different so the results may vary. Also, your results depend on how much you put into the process. CBT involves therapist and client collaboration. You must practice changing your thoughts and be willing to do homework and other assignments outside of the session to get the most benefit.

What Makes Cognitive Behavioral Therapy A Good Treatment for Substance Abuse Disorders?

Cognitive behavioral therapy is especially helpful for substance abuse because it can be used to treat both co-occurring mental health and substance use issues. People who are diagnosed with mental health issues are more likely to have substance use disorders. CBT is one of many treatments that can be used for both problems. It is an evidence-based therapy, which means that it has been extensively researched and is effective.

To learn more about CBT in Fair Oaks CA and the surrounding areas, contact the Relationship Therapy Center. We provide a range of therapy services including CBT for substance abuse and co-occurring mental health disorders.

Rob Evans, LMFT, LPCC

Rob Evans, LMFT, LPCC

Rob Evans, is a psychotherapist with over 25 years experience helping men, women, families and couples improve their relationships with themselves and those around him in the Fair Oaks, CA area.   He specializes in using Cognitive Therapy or CBT to help people change the way you think, feel and behave now.

Call today at 916-426-2757