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What is CBT?

CBT stands for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. It is one of the most widely used and most effective approaches to therapy. It is based on the idea that it’s your perception of events, and not events themselves, that distress you and that by changing your perceptions, you can respond more effectively to life’s challenges.

CBT is not so much a therapeutic technique as it is a therapeutic approach that uses various techniques as needed. It’s also supposed to be immediate and practical. Don’t expect a therapist using a CBT approach to analyze your dreams or ask you about your childhood. The CBT approach is to go directly to the problem and figure out how your thinking is making it worse. To this end, the therapist will typically ask you questions about the challenging situation and what you’re thinking about when it happens. She will likely challenge some of your assumptions in ways that make you uncomfortable or that you outright reject.

You will also get some homework. CBT requires you to interrupt your reflexive thinking during a stressful situation and substitute more rational thoughts. This takes a bit of practice. It’s not enough for your therapist to tell you about it. You have to think about your experiences and behavior, analyze what went wrong, and figure out how to adjust your thinking so it goes better next time. Some therapists are starting to incorporate computer learning models that allow you to work through hypothetical situations that might trigger a relapse. This allows you to practice behavioral skills in a safe environment before you encounter a difficult situation in real life.

CBT is not specifically intended for the treatment of addiction, but it is effective in treating most forms of addiction. Exactly what it looks like in practice depends on the individual and the specific challenges related to his or her addiction. For example, if you have addiction and depression, you might deal with persistent negative thoughts by identifying the faulty assumptions behind them and simultaneously practice what to say to a friend who offers you drugs or alcohol. If your biggest challenge is chronic pain, you may focus more on mindfulness and learning to think differently about pain.

CBT is incorporated by my most therapists and addiction treatment centers and often leads to lasting change in a short time. If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, Gardens Wellness Center can help you detox safely and decide on a treatment strategy. Call us today at 844-828-1050 or email us at to learn more.