Dr. Aaron T. Beck developed cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) at the University of Pennsylvania in the 1960s. He based his work on studies done by psychologist Albert Ellis in the 1950s. Ellis is considered one of the founders of cognitive therapy, and Beck is the one who joined cognitive principles with behaviorism. Early researchers into both cognitive and behavioral therapies understood the link between actions and a person’s beliefs and thoughts. Over the last thirty years or so, clinicians have noticed and capitalized on the efficacy of CBT in treating substance use disorders. For decades, cognitive-behavioral therapy in Pennsylvania has been at the forefront of the addiction treatment programs at Pennsylvania Adult and Teen Challenge (PAATC).
What is cognitive-behavioral therapy, and how can it help your recovery? Reach out to PAATC today to get answers to those questions and more. Contact our professional staff by phone at 844.442.8673 or using our online form.
What Is CBT?
Current brain science confirms the observations of Aaron Beck, Albert Ellis, and the countless mental health clinicians who use CBT and other behavioral therapies. Thoughts, beliefs, and emotions directly and unconsciously affect actions and life outcomes. This fundamental truth is key to the efficacy of CBT in treating mental health and substance use disorders.
By shifting your beliefs and thoughts about yourself and the world, you can change your actions and life. CBT can bring about significant shifts in self-image, self-belief, and behaviors for people with an addiction, paving the way for recovery.
What Is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Addiction?
CBT focuses on strategies such as:
- Awareness of harmful thoughts and emotions
- Creating shifts in thinking to affect actions
- Amplifying any desire for positive change
- Developing skills for coping with disruptive, painful, or challenging events, thoughts, or emotions
These pillars of CBT are ideally suited to creating change around substance abuse and addiction. Because CBT teaches you coping strategies to deal with triggers, both within you and in the environment, it is an excellent approach in any relapse prevention program.
Preparing for CBT
In preparing for cognitive-behavioral therapy, there are some things you can do ahead of time.
Focus on Your Personal Goals
CBT is goal-oriented and anchored in the present moment. Doing some pre-thinking about what you want your life to look like in recovery will help you feel motivated and focused. Try to keep track of your list of goals, both big and small, by writing them down somewhere. You can take that list with you when you enter rehab and begin CBT.
Listen for Your Own Negative Self-Talk
Many of us think or even speak aloud derogatory self-beliefs and fears. Certain words may actually circulate in our minds when we forget our wallet or say something clumsy in a meeting, and chances are we don’t fully realize the words are there. Anxious dread can build up in our heads without our being consciously aware of it, as well.
It is easy to become trapped in a state of generalized fear of being fired or dumped, getting lost, saying the wrong thing, or being caught off-guard in a vulnerable moment. Try to figure out the ways you do this. What harmful messages do you send yourself repeatedly? Knowing some of them will help you get started with CBT.
Pay Attention to Your Body When You Feel Your Emotions
Because of the strong link between actions, emotions, and thoughts, determining how strong emotions land in your body can be helpful. This information offers clues to your feelings and their impact on you. The physical manifestations of emotions can be varied. For example, they may include:
- Feelings of heaviness in your chest or stomach
- A swirling or churning in the belly or lower intestine
- Acid reflux
- Muscle aches
The chemicals released in the body when negative emotions like fear or rage emerge can cause physical inflammation, leading to symptoms from diarrhea to headaches to joint pain. See if you can locate your vulnerabilities. That knowledge will empower you to make the change when you are in CBT. But don’t worry if you can’t. All of these suggestions are things you can do once you are engaged with your therapist.
Preparing for Recovery at Pennsylvania Adult and Teen Challenge
CBT preparation is not required before enrolling in addiction treatment services at PAATC. Once you are enrolled in rehab and begin your CBT treatment, your therapist will walk you through the process and how you can engage in it for the best outcomes. However, people often ask us, “What is CBT?” and “What can I do to start preparing for cognitive-behavioral therapy?”
It’s time to learn more about how cognitive-behavioral therapy can help you prepare for CBT and learn how CBT works with other evidence-based therapies. Call us at 844.442.8673 today or use our online form to improve your recovery outcomes.