With one in five adults in the United States living with a mental illness, it is crucial to prioritize mental health treatment options just as much as ones for physical health.1 One of the most impactful treatment approaches that continue to prove itself effective is cognitive-behavioral therapy.
Read on to learn more about the many ways that cognitive-behavioral therapy can help mental illness and substance addiction outcomes for the better.
What Is Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy?
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a tried-and-true style of talk therapy, often considered the gold standard treatment option for various psychological concerns.2 In general, CBT aims to help individuals explore their negative patterns of thoughts, behaviors, and feelings to find healthier strategies and coping methods.
Unlike other therapeutic approaches that dive into analyzing the impact of past trauma and experiences, cognitive behavioral therapy solely focuses on solving the present-day stressors and issues arising in an individual’s life. According to the American Psychological Association, cognitive behavioral therapy is based on these core principles: 3
- Psychological problems are based, in part, on faulty or unhelpful ways of thinking
- Psychological issues are based, in part, on learned patterns of unhelpful behavior
- People suffering from psychological problems can learn better-coping methods to relieve their symptoms and become more effective in their lives
What Skills Are Commonly Learned In Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy?
In particular, individuals struggling with mental illness would benefit from working with professionals trained in cognitive-behavioral therapy. CBT equips a person with the skills needed to change their thoughts and behaviors to lead a healthier and more balanced life.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to cognitive-behavioral therapy since it encompasses various skills and treatment strategies that can be utilized depending on a person’s needs. CBT works best when therapists and clients work together in an equal partnership to tackle the issues head-on.
While this is by no means an exhaustive list, are four of the many popular strategies that therapists might utilize throughout the cognitive behavioral therapy process:
#1: Mindfulness Exercises
Cognitive-behavioral therapy often integrates mindfulness exercises and other relaxing practices such as deep breathing. This helps clients lower their stress levels and become more aware of their current thoughts, feelings, and surroundings.
#2: Cognitive Restructuring
Cognitive-behavioral therapy’s cognitive restructuring technique gets to the core of inaccurate thoughts and distorted ways of thinking. This allows individuals to notice and challenge their thought patterns more effectively while also reshaping them into more accurate ones.
#3: Role Play Exercises
Role-playing exercises between the therapist and client are used to practice fear or anxiety-inducing situations or phobias in a safe space. This allows individuals to better understand how to cope with and navigate these scenarios more effectively in real life, typically developing better communication skills and assertiveness.
#4: Cognitive Journaling
Cognitive journaling is a common homework assignment used in cognitive behavioral therapy. It allows clients to reflect through writing to become more mindful of the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors they’re experiencing. This gives individuals greater insights and perspective on their negative thoughts or behavioral patterns.
How Effective Is Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy At Treating Mental Illness?
CBT can be applied by itself, alongside medication, or in combination with other therapeutic methods. In any case, cognitive behavioral therapy is a proven way to treat mental illness: studies found that it can improve symptoms in social anxiety disorder by 50-75%4, obsessive-compulsive disorder by 38%, and body dysmorphic disorder by 82%.5
In addition to the issues above, therapists often use CBT to help the patient with the following mental health conditions:
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Sexual disorders
- Sleep disorders
- Bipolar disorder
Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy Approaches For Addiction Recovery
Surprisingly, cognitive behavioral therapy can also be a viable treatment option for individuals struggling with addiction. Nearly 38% of people with a substance use disorder also have a mental illness like PTSD, depression, or anxiety6. Thus, getting to the root of underlying mental health conditions with CBT will better equip individuals to reach sobriety.
Recover From Addiction With Clear Life Recovery
For individuals struggling with mental illness and addiction, CBT offers an excellent treatment option and hope for a new life.
If you or your loved one are struggling with a substance use disorder, Clear Life Recovery is here to help. We use CBT and other proven methods to help clients in Southern California overcome alcohol or drug addiction. To learn more about the ways that we serve our clients, contact our compassionate team today.