Up until a few years ago, most addiction treatment center therapists were relying on more traditional forms of therapy. The client would sit in an office or group and discuss their feelings about life and their addiction. After decades of using this approach, things started getting a little worrisome as the relapse statistics kept rising. Then, something really interesting happened within the addiction treatment community.
Collectively, younger and less experienced addiction treatment professionals brought a different approach to the way addiction treatment facilities were treating patients. These professionals began focusing more on the whole patient, putting less emphasis on the addiction itself. If the results we have been seeing over the last few years are any indication, the process of treating drug and alcohol addictions might well be moving in the right direction.
The Introduction of Evidence-Based Therapies
The big change with the addiction treatment community came when therapists started using psychotherapy methods and evidence-based therapies like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). While the end goal continued to be arresting the client’s addiction, these new treatment methods sought to do so much more.
Psychotherapy is a more generalized approach to treatment. It involves a client working closely with a therapist on an adventure of self-discovery. The goal for the therapist is to delve into the client’s psyche in a search for any psychological or emotional problems that could be driving the client’s desire to abuse substances and harm themselves.
CBT is, in fact, a specific type of psychotherapy. It falls under what psychologists call evidence-based therapies. The attributes that qualify a therapy as evidence-based include:
- Studies and research have been done and completed by professionals
- The results are consistent across studies
- The results are recorded in public professional journals
- The results are easily duplicated in a number of different environments
As for what exactly is CBT, it’s a therapy process that focuses on the way clients think and how their thoughts lead to certain behaviors. In the case of addiction treatment, the therapist would use CBT methods to dig into the negative thoughts that are causing the client to turn to drugs or alcohol as an escape. The hope is that by identifying the client’s negative thoughts, the therapist can subsequently provide the client with the skills they will need to change their thoughts, which should create a change in their behavior.
Listed below, you will find some of the CBT techniques that are proving to be very effective for therapists who are treating substance addictions.
The problem addiction sufferers face is they simply aren’t aware of how their negative thoughts are affecting the way they behave. For some people, thinking negative thoughts feels natural. If it feels natural, why would they suspect there’s something amiss? By having the client keep a journal of their thoughts on a day-to-basis, it forces the client to look specifically at their negative thoughts. They will likely realize that every time they get caught up in negativity is when the desire to abuse a substance comes to life. Awareness is a powerful tool.
In a therapeutic setting, the client will interact with the therapist. The client will offer information about their though processes and the therapist will help the client understand the way their thoughts are becoming distorted. The therapist then guides the client to understand how these distortions are not true, meaning, the client’s desire to abuse substances is based on something that in not part of reality.
Often times, the client encounters situations in their day-to-day life that they don’t know how to react or handle. The modeling behavior technique gives the therapist an opportunity to work with the client to help the client better recognize certain situations before the situations get out of control. Through the process of early situational recognition, the client will have the opportunity to think about and adjust their reactions in a more positive direction. The skills clients learn as part of the modeling behavior technique have applications in other parts of life.