There are a lot of options for treatment when people are looking to make a change. If you are looking to cut down on drinking or other substance use, or decrease negative thought patterns that can lead to low self esteem and problematic behaviors, you might consider cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).
CBT is a great treatment modality for anyone who wants to make concrete changes to their thinking and behavior patterns. CBT looks at our thoughts, and how those thoughts lead to negative self talk. Negative self talk impacts our feelings, and then we tend to react and behave in ways we know are unhealthy. We repeat old patterns over and over again, long after we’ve realized they’re not working for us anymore. This can be especially true with substance abuse. It is easy to self medicate to “quiet” the negative self talk in our minds, or to drink when in uncomfortable social situations to help get through them. But it takes real commitment and a willingness to change to look in the mirror and realize that those coping skills are not healthy, and probably not working. So, if you find yourself at that point, you might consider therapy. You may want to specifically look into therapists who use CBT. Here are some things CBT can help with:
-Accountability. CBT therapists usually assign some “homework” in between sessions, and have you examine your thoughts to find patterns. The therapist will check in on how that went, and definitely hold you accountable to do some work on your own. If accountability is helpful for you when trying to make a change, CBT definitely offers that.
-Something to practice: Your therapist may help you create a “thought record” to look at the situation that prompts your negative thoughts, what those automatic negative thoughts are, and the evidence against those negative thoughts that show you they are not true.
Situation: My boss called me into his office.
Automatic thoughts: That must mean I did something wrong, I’m going to be fired, I won’t have a job or income, my wife will leave me, etc, etc. I’m just going to leave work now and have a drink.
Evidence against thoughts: My boss has called me in before and it was nothing bad, I am not in any trouble at work, no one has threatened to fire me, I am complimented at work often, etc.
-Coping skills: Relaxation exercises, hobbies, alternative behaviors/coping skills for when you are triggered and want to drink/use/engage in unhealthy behaviors.
CBT has the premise wrapped up in its name - it looks at the cognitive piece of mental health, which are your thoughts, and it also looks at your behaviors - what do you do when you are faced with those thoughts? Your therapist will use CBT to teach you how to change your negative thoughts into more positive, rational thoughts, which will help, in turn, change some of those negative behaviors to positive behaviors.
These skills are especially useful for anyone who struggles with substance abuse. Many times, negative thoughts turn into using or drinking, in order to cope with the negative thoughts and self talk. Your therapist can use CBT to teach you alternative ways to cope, in addition to changing that thought pattern. Your therapist can help you discover what underlying negative thoughts and self talk led to your drinking or substance use, and how that pattern started. This will help you work on breaking the pattern and creating a healthier pattern for yourself.
So, if you want to learn how your thoughts impact your behaviors, and work on quitting substance use, or any other unhealthy behaviors, CBT may be for you. Several therapists at Resolve practice CBT, and I make it a large part of my practice. I am a Licensed Master Addiction Counselor, and use CBT with individuals struggling with substance abuse regularly. Call to schedule an appointment to give CBT a try, and see how it may benefit you.