Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) was developed in the 1960s and is used as part of a larger program of treatment at Avery Lane to treat women struggling with drug and alcohol addiction. CBT has since been shown to be effective in treating other types of substance and process addictions. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy focuses on helping people understand their thought processes, thereby reducing the impact of “automatic thoughts” that lead them toward certain emotions. Once these emotions and their related thoughts are addressed, the patient is able to change those thoughts, which allows them to change related behaviors as well.
Automatic thoughts are emotion-filled thoughts that enter the brain without the patient being fully aware of them. As these thoughts are often unrealistic or inaccurate, they prevent people from being able to respond to events properly. For example, someone may believe—perhaps unconsciously—that she must always perform at her best so people will accept her. This thought is disassociated from reality because most people don’t demand perfection from others. These thoughts, which are known as dysfunctional assumptions, lead the person to feel that others are rejecting her.
At Avery Lane, CBT focuses on helping women identify automatic thoughts and assess whether they are realistic. Once participants begin to recognize these thoughts, they are able to step back and analyze them to determine if they are accurate reflections of reality. Becoming more aware of feelings and their causes can have an large impact on a patient’s behavior, often helping them to overcome drug and alcohol addiction.