OCD can result from PTSD

What is cognitive behavioral therapy?

Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT), is a type of talk therapy that was developed in the 1960s. Unlike standard talk therapy, CBT focuses on both thinking and behavior, and deals with life in the present, not what happened in the past.

CBT is based on the idea that there is a strong connection between thoughts and feelings and that many problems in life do not stem from stressful events but from the importance we attach to those events.

For most of us, negative thinking started in childhood. By the time we reach adulthood, our thought patterns are so firmly established that we are not even aware of their existence. CBT helps people identify destructive, long-buried thoughts.

The goal of CBT is to create a partnership between therapist and client. Together they assess distorted thoughts and develop problem-solving skills and strategies to deal with difficult emotions in a more constructive way.

Cognitive behavior therapy and addiction

For people struggling with substance abuse disorders and addiction, CBT increases awareness of destructive thoughts and behaviors and the consequences that can arise from them. Although the CBT usually consists of one-on-one sessions, it is sometimes used in groups or in a family setting.

CBT, which can also be used in conjunction with other forms of addiction treatment, can also address depression, anxiety, trauma, or other problems that may underlying the addiction.

Treatments can also help with insomnia, grief or loss, chronic pain, relationship problems, or other stressful life situations.

What happens in a CBT session?

Cognitive behavioral therapy usually consists of one session per week, which is usually an hour or less. The sessions are structured and usually start with a specific plan or topic for the day. CBT can involve a number of different techniques, such as journaling, mindfulness meditation, self-assertion training, or various exercises to help the client become more aware of negative thought patterns.

Sessions usually include a brief review of the previous session and a schedule of homework that the client can do between sessions.

Does CBT work?

Numerous studies suggest that CBT can make real changes that last long after therapy is stopped. CBT is shorter in duration than most other treatments, with improvements usually occurring within five to 10 months, and sometimes even after eight to 10 weeks.

Cognitive behavioral therapy is not a panacea and only works for people who are willing to work in partnership with the therapist and invest time and effort in weekly homework.

How to Find a CBT Therapist

If you think cognitive behavior therapy might be helpful for you, ask your doctor about a referral. If you're struggling with substance abuse or addiction, most treatment centers and rehab clinics have CBT therapists on their team.

Make sure your therapist is licensed, certified, and experienced with your specific problem. Be open and honest with your therapist and stick to the plan you both are working out. Be patient. CBT works faster than most other treatments, but it still takes hard work and perseverance.