CBT is a SAMHSA approved modality and has shown very effective in helping clients remodel their attitudes and behaviors for a more successful recovery.
What is CBT?
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a form of treatment that focuses on examining the relationships between thoughts, feelings and behaviors. By exploring patterns of thinking that lead to self-destructive actions and the beliefs that direct these thoughts, people with mental illness can modify their patterns of thinking to improve coping. CBT is a type of psychotherapy that is different from traditional psychodynamic psychotherapy in that the therapist and the patient will actively work together to help the patient recover from their mental illness. People who seek CBT can expect their therapist to be problem-focused, and goal-directed in addressing the challenging symptoms of mental illnesses.
Scientific studies of CBT have demonstrated its usefulness for a wide variety of mental illnesses including mood disorders, anxiety disorders, personality disorders, eating disorders, substance abuse disorders, sleep disorders and psychotic disorders. Studies have shown that CBT actually changes brain activity in people with mental illnesses who receive this treatment, suggesting that the brain is actually improving its functioning as a result of engaging in this form of therapy.
Benefits for Mental Health Disorders
CBT has been shown to be as useful as antidepressant medications for some individuals with depression and may be superior in preventing relapse of symptoms. Patients receiving CBT for depression are encouraged to schedule positive activities into their daily calendars in order to increase the amount of pleasure they experience. In addition, depressed patients learn how to change (“restructure”) negative thought patterns in order to interpret their environment in a less negatively-biased way. As regular sleep has been found to be very important in both depression and bipolar disorder, therapists will also target sleeping patterns to improve and regulate sleep schedules with their patients. Studies indicate that patients who receive CBT in addition to treatment with medication have better outcomes than patients who do not receive CBT as an additional treatment.
CBT is also a useful treatment for anxiety disorders. Patients who experience persistent panic attacks are encouraged to test out beliefs they have related to such attacks, which can include specific fears related to bodily sensations, and to develop more realistic responses to their experiences. This is beneficial in decreasing both the frequency and intensity of panic attacks. Patients who experience obsessions and compulsions are guided to expose themselves to what they fear in a safe and controlled therapeutic environment. Beliefs surrounding their fears (of contamination, illness, inflicting harm, etc.) are identified and changed to decrease the anxiety connected with such fears.