This article is the second in a two part series on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), often used in drug addiction treatment. The first part of this series provided an overview of this treatment method. This article will explore CBT’s Thought Diary, a tool that individuals use to monitor their thoughts in order to be able to change them, which is necessary in healing.
A Thought Diary is a documentation tool for monitoring feelings of anxiety, fear, hurt, anger, shame, guilt, or sadness. Along with noting when and where these feelings were experienced, a recovering addict would also write down the associated thought he or she had with that feeling, in a particular situation. Doing this can create lasting change. For instance, reflecting on the self-talk one had during a specific situation can lead to finding those thoughts that are harmful and self-defeating.
Without this sort of reflection, these damaging thoughts might go unnoticed, and for this reason, cultivating this sort of awareness is the benefit of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Furthermore, this is precisely why CBT is often used as a part of drug addiction therapy.
The Thought Diary doesn’t end there. It also invites an individual to write down an alternative thought – one that is more helpful, realistic, and supportive. The way one responds to circumstances in life can have an influence on mood and feelings and thoughts. The example provided in the first article is making the change from “I am worthless” to “I can do this”.
Another example is Kevin’s inward reaction to being let go from his job after 14 years. He could either experience depressive thoughts, such as thinking they no longer needed him or that he was letting his family down. Of course, this in turn would trigger certain feelings such as depression, discomfort, and hopelessness. And this in turn might lead to avoiding friends and family or activities he used to enjoy.
However, he might see it as an opportunity to make a change in his life. He might have a positive thought about all the skills he has acquired over the years and how he can apply them elsewhere. As a result, he might feel optimistic, excited, and motivated, and he might start behaving in ways to acquire that new opportunity such as networking, planning for the future, and building a new career. The difference in this example began in the way that Kevin inwardly responded to his circumstances. CBT would assist him in finding the thoughts that might have led to depression or anxiety and change those towards positive ones in order to change his life.
Those individuals working with a CBT Therapist would learn that helpful thoughts are those that promote self-acceptance within. They are also those that state preferences versus thoughts that make absolute demands with words like “should” or “must”. You might be able to see how and why CBT is an essential element to drug addiction treatment.
An individual is then encouraged to use their new, alternative thoughts, particularly when in similar circumstances. As drug addiction therapy continues, the process of distinguishing feelings continues. Other emotions such as annoyance, concern, regret, or remorse are also examined to uncover their effects on a recovering addict’s behavior and choices. The Thought Diary is also used to rate the intensity of emotions, further increasing a person’s awareness of feelings, thoughts, and behavior. CBT’s ability to increase awareness also facilitates the ability to stop making choices unconsciously and start to making decisions that support a healthy self-esteem. This is an essential component to the success of a recovering addict.
Indeed, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy can facilitate mental wellbeing, reduce anxiety, minimize risky behavior, and prevent drug use. In fact, CBT is increasingly being used in drug addiction treatment and The Thought Diary is one of the powerful tools used in CBT to make these changes possible.
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