Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

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Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy – more commonly referred to as CBT – is a method of psychotherapeutic intervention that helps clients identify and change self-destructive patterns of thinking. Most men and women who struggle with substance abuse and dependence experience automatic negative thoughts, which often contribute to worsening symptoms and their inability to get sober or maintain sobriety for any extended period of time. There are a wide range of proven strategies employed as part of CBT, all geared towards helping clients identify negative patterns of thinking and ultimately challenge and change these thoughts, replacing them with more productive and objective ideas. At Guardian Recovery we use a range of evidence-based therapies, providing a program of clinical care that is both comprehensive and highly individualized.

The American Psychological Association states that CBT is based on three core principles:

  1. Substance abuse (and other psychological concerns) are based – at least in part – on detrimental ways of thinking. 
  2. Substance abuse and dependence are largely based on self-destructive behavioral patterns that were learned at one point (these behavioral patterns are not inherent, and they can be effectively changed). 
  3. People who are suffering at the hands of a substance abuse disorder can successfully learn how to cope with emotional discomfort in healthier ways, ultimately relieving symptoms associated with addiction and going on to lead productive, substance-free lives.

CBT-based strategies that we utilize as part of our comprehensive program of therapeutic care include:

  • Tackling personal fears head-on rather than actively avoiding them. 
  • Learning effective techniques that are geared towards quieting the mind and relaxing the physical body (for example, mindfulness or self-soothing). 
  • Developing an unwavering sense of self-confidence and working to bolster self-esteem in a range of healthy and effective ways. 
  • Utilizing tools like role playing in order to prepare for interactions with other people that could otherwise prove to be problematic. 
  • Gaining a better understanding of self through focusing on the behaviors and motivations of other people. 
  • Utilizing problem-solving skills to successfully navigate difficult situations while avoiding relapse. 
  • Learning how distorted thinking patterns are leading to interpersonal problems, and reevaluating these thoughts in a more realistic and grounded light. 
Rather than focusing on the personal history of each individual client, CBT focuses on what is happening in the present moment. Negative patterns of thinking have the ability to trap people in a vicious cycle of substance misuse, seeing as ways of thinking and behaving are closely interlinked. In order to effectively overcome addiction, clients must change the way they think. If you would like to learn more about CBT or about any of the therapeutic services we provide, contact us today.

CBT and Addiction Recovery

Extensive evidence points towards the fact that CBT is a highly effective method of addiction recovery. The National Institute on Drug Abuse suggests that the skills clients learn while participating in CBT remain with them long after clinical treatment has concluded. NIDA also suggests that CBT is the most effective when it is combined with a range of other behavioral therapies, Medication Assisted Treatment (whenever necessary) and 12 step program immersion. At Guardian Recovery we have developed a highly integrated recovery program that incorporates all evidence-based treatment methods, providing our clients with the most comprehensive clinical care available.

The Benefits of CBT

Clients learn a wide variety of tools and skills while engaged in CBT, which serves as a major component of group and individual therapy sessions. Far-reaching benefits of CBT include:

  • The ability to identify and change dysfunctional personal beliefs and detrimental beliefs about substance use (for example, beliefs like, “I am only hurting myself.” Or, “I can control my drinking or drug use.”)
  • The ability to adequately assess high-risk situations, and consistently choose to spend time with people or seek out environments that are more conducive to recovery. 
  • Changing the automatic thoughts that lead to substance use, and replacing them with healthy and productive ways of thinking. 
  • An increased ability to work through the psychological urges and drug cravings that would otherwise lead to relapse. 
  • Changing negative, ritualistic behaviors associated with drug use and drinking. 
  • Changing psychological beliefs and reactions to relapse that can easily lead to the continuation of a vicious cycle. 
  • Developing a personal arsenal of appropriate responses that can be utilized by a client when he or she is offered a drink or another chemical substance. 
  • Learning how to “play the tape through” or appropriately weigh the pros and cons of a return to substance use. 
  • Developing a healthy sense of self-respect, and learning how to consistently bolster self-esteem through esteemable acts. 
  • Learning how to rely on support groups and sober support systems, like that provided by a sponsorship family or by a 12-step group like Alcoholics Anonymous.

To learn more about the extensive benefits of CBT, or to learn more about the comprehensive level of therapeutic care we provide in each of our clinical treatment programs, reach out today.

Additional Therapeutic Services We Provide

While CBT has proven to be extremely effective in the treatment of substance abuse and dependence, it is never a stand-alone solution and must be combined with a wide range of other therapeutic services in order to be truly effective.

Other therapeutic services we provide include:

A Multi-Phased Continuum of Care

At Guardian Recovery we offer a variety of treatment services in order to provide men and women of all ages with a comprehensive and highly individualized continuum of clinical care. We offer demographic-specific treatment options in multiple states. The levels of clinical care we provide include:

Our Straightforward Admissions Process

At Guardian Recovery we are dedicated to making the admissions process as straightforward and uncomplicated as possible from start to finish. The moment you or your loved one picks up the phone and calls us we begin developing a viable plan for intake, which begins with a brief pre-assessment that can be conducted over the phone in a matter of minutes. This pre-assessment helps our clinical team determine which therapeutic services and which level of clinical care are the most appropriate for each unique case. Once this is complete we begin looking into a coverage plan. At Guardian Recovery we work closely with most major regional and national health insurance providers, ensuring that our therapeutic services remain as accessible as possible. If you or your loved one is currently insured, there is a very good chance that some or all of our therapeutic services are covered.

We then finalize a date and a time for intake and begin arranging viable transportation plans. If you or your loved one is in need of a safe and reliable ride to our facility on the date of intake, we are happy to provide transportation. Beginning on the road to recovery is truly as simple as contacting us today. Our team of dedicated professionals is standing by to assist you in any way possible, and to get you or your loved one started on his or her own personal recovery journey. We look forward to speaking with you soon.

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Reviewed professionally for accuracy by:

Ryan Soave


Ryan Soave brings deep experience as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, certified trauma therapist, program developer, and research consultant for Huberman Lab at Stanford University Department of Neurobiology. Post-graduation from Wake Forest University, Ryan quickly discovered his acumen for the business world. After almost a decade of successful entrepreneurship and world traveling, he encountered a wave of personal and spiritual challenges; he felt a calling for something more. Ryan returned to school and completed his Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling. When he started working with those suffering from addiction and PTSD, he found his passion. He has never looked back.

Written by:

Cayla Clark

Cayla Clark

Cayla Clark grew up in Santa Barbara, CA and graduated from UCLA with a degree in playwriting. Since then she has been writing on addiction recovery and psychology full-time, and has found a home as part of the Guardian Recovery team.

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