What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?

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cognitive behavioral therapy

Can we all just take a minute to appreciate how far the psychology field has come over the last century? Even 80 years ago, people with mental disorders and addictions were usually locked away in asylums and given lobotomies. It is astounding that so many successful doctors and scientists have dug so deep into the inner workings of the human mind in such a short time, and this alcoholic sure is thankful for them! While there are hundreds of different forms of therapy available to a sick and suffering addict like myself, one method that I have found to be most beneficial for me was Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.

Am I Really Crazy?

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is a short-term and goal-oriented psychotherapy treatment that takes a practical approach to problem-solving. Its main goal; to change deep-rooted patterns of thinking or behavior that are commonly the reason behind people’s difficulties, therein, changing the way they feel about life.

I’m not sure when it happened, but at some point in my life, my thought patterns started to consistently be placed on a very negative or pessimistic plane. CBT counteracts these thoughts by alternating their direction to a more rational and compassionate approach. For example, the model that CBT is based on dictates that it is not so much an event in our life that upsets us, but more so how our brain and our thoughts REACT to said event.

An example within an example; when I was a child, I wanted to be just like my older sister. Obviously, she wanted nothing to do with her little sister who constantly wanted to tag along and wear matching outfits (she was obviously the crazy one, I had style) so she would say mean things to get me to leave her alone. Now I, rather than realizing that she probably had her own life to live (selfish), assumed that she actually hated me and that I really was annoying and ugly (probably still true). So the years passed, and these deep-rooted perceptions that I had subconsciously created out of nothing, began to really stick. Anytime I felt less than or like I needed a friend, I would bottle up my feelings so I didn’t burden anyone, or seem too clingy.

Now let’s take a quick minute to use the Cognitive Behavioral approach. First of all, my sister is a saint. She is an amazing mother, a loving and caring daughter, and she is the first to greet any situation with a smile and compassion. She is sweet and gentle to everyone she meets, and to this day she still feels guilty for not wanting her kid sister hanging out with her and her friends at the mall when she was 13 (going on 40 am I right?!). So as we can see, my own mental tendencies towards inadequacy and abandonment were the real issue here, not the actions of my sister. Yet for all those years, I pictured her as the cranky old Angelica Pickles, while I was the sweet and innocent little Tommy, with a juice box and a full diaper, making up imaginary events when I was bored.

girl in therapy session

I Got Sidetracked, Where Were We?

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy was invented in the 1960’s by the psychiatrist Aaron Beck. During psychoanalysis studies at the time, he observed that many of his patients tended to have a constant internal dialogue. For example, if a patient would expect a certain reaction by the doctor to something they said, and he responded in a different way, the patient would show behavioral signals of surprise or anxiety. Beck realized that the relationship between thoughts and feelings played a major role in how a person interacts with their environment.

While for the most part, people are more or less unaware of most of the thoughts that pop into their heads, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy can provide the person with an insight and an understanding as to how their thoughts can affect their moods. It’s all very zen if you think about it.

When our mind is filled with negative thoughts, we will see the world from a negative perspective. When we are able to identify and counteract those negative thoughts with positive ones, our perception of the world will become more positive. THE POWER OF THE MIND IS ASTOUNDING! Positive manifestation and stuff, cool beans!

Why Do We Have Negative Thoughts Anyway?

Hey, good question. Here’s the deal, as our minds develop, we learn to differentiate the good from the bad, i.e, as infants, when we are hungry and don’t get fed, that is bad. When we are hungry and get fed, that is good, and so on and so forth. When we are toddlers and we get scolded for dumping all of mom’s nail polish all over the bathroom floor, counters, walls, and bathtub (true story, my sister started it) it creates a feeling of shame and guilt. These things go on and become fixed patterns of thought into our brains, which inevitably shape who we develop into as adults. So we mix in all of the good and bad things that happen, and we become who we are and how we think.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy helps a person understand that they are able to break these negative thought patterns, and to no longer REACT to external circumstances, but to RESPOND in a healthy manner.

In regards to substance abuse and addiction, CBT can perform miracles on a person who is willing to put in the effort to live a better life. It is absolutely vital for a recovering addict to understand that our thoughts do not have to shape our lives, as we are often plagued by guilt, shame, remorse, anger, abandonment, etc. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy helps us identify when we are being unrealistic or irrational, which, honestly, was one of the hardest things for me to differentiate when I was first getting sober. So if you are ready to clear out all that junk that keeps swirling around in your head and keeping that rain cloud over your parade, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is a great place to start!

Seeking Treatment for Alcoholism and Addiction

Getting clean and sober from drugs and alcohol is the most important thing that an addict or alcoholic can do in their life. At Pinnacle Recovery, we understand this and we are here to help you through the anxiety that going to a treatment center for drugs can bring. With help from our professionals, you can find a new life in sobriety with the least amount of resistance possible, and you can learn what it means to achieve a sustained and happy recovery. So call us today at 1-866-301-0573 and begin your journey to recovery the right way, with Pinnacle Recovery.

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