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Cognitive Behavioural Therapy: what is it and how will it help me?

You have slept in and are in a mad dash to get to work on time. You get in your car and you are speeding down a busy road when suddenly, an SUV cuts in front of you. You have to slam on the breaks to avoid rolling into the intersection as the light turns red. Once you’ve spewed the necessary profanities, you sit impatiently, wondering who this person thinks they are to cut you off. Now you are definitely going to be late for work and it’s their fault. Do they think they’re better than you, or more important? They clearly can’t drive and should have their license revoked. This small incident puts you in a foul mood which sticks with you for most of the morning.

 

 

If this situation rings true to you, you may have experienced distorted thinking. In that moment, we witnessed the behaviour of another person and drew a conclusion based on our mood, belief system and prior experiences. Our initial reaction was to assume that the SUV driver cut us off maliciously, but was that really the case? We did the best we could, in that moment, to make sense of what was happening around us. More than likely, that driver simply did not see us on the road, maybe they were distracted, or like us, in a hurry to get to work.

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a form of psychotherapy that focuses on identifying distorted thinking patterns and changing destructive behaviour. This goal orientated approach explores how thoughts and behaviours influence each other and challenges us to consider situations from alternate points of view. For example, many people living with a Substance Use Disorder commonly identify with the feeling of shame; this includes feeling as though they are flawed, inadequate, and generally bad. If a person believes they are inadequate; they may also believe that inadequate people don’t deserve love, support and happiness. This type of thought pattern is commonly what leads individuals to continue on with their harmful substance use behaviour. CBT is used to disrupt our deeply ingrained, maladaptive, thoughts and beliefs, proving us with the ability to examine them critically before our actions reflect them.

If there is one guarantee when visiting Greenestone Muskoka, its that your thoughts and beliefs will be challenged. With compassion and kindness, our highly trained clinical team will support you in breaking patterns of distorted thinking when it comes to your drug and/or alcohol habits. You will work actively along side your primary therapist to become more aware of the thoughts you have, deciphering the accuracy of those thoughts before you act on them (ex: ‘I can’t do that’ verses ‘I’m scared to fail’).

In addition to individual counselling, CBT is a frequently used component of our group therapy sessions. Why be challenged by one person, when you can be challenged by a whole group! I know this sounds scary, but once you are placed in a group with like minded individuals, who are all recovery oriented, you will quickly see benefit to received feedback from your peers. Making lasting changes in our cognitive tendency is a difficult process, but with dedication and support it is possible for everyone.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is not just for those living with substance use disorders, it is also effective in those struggling with anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, anger and a variety of other diagnosis. At Greenestone, we will support and encourage you to develop your own CBT capabilities that you can use in any situation.