CBT as Part of an Integrated Approach to Treatment

CBT as Part of an Integrated Approach to Treatment

When you are choosing a therapist, some of the therapy types they offer and terms they use might seem confusing and contradictory. For example, you may wonder, what is cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)? What is the difference between an integrated approach and a holistic approach? Is CBT part of both? How do you choose a therapist that will be the best fit for you?

CBT is one of the most effective therapies for treating mental health issues and substance use disorder (SUD). Laguna Shores Recovery implements CBT into the fabric of treatment. However, you might wonder if CBT is enough to overcome negative thoughts or about its place in an integrated approach to treatment.

An Integrated Approach

The term “integrated approach” is used to refer to a “unified” treatment plan to address SUD and co-occurring mental health disorders. People with SUD are two to four times more likely to have mental health problems, such as anxiety and depression.

Historically, these two sets of conditions have been treated separately. Addiction treatment models and mental health methods had little overlap. The lack of a unified treatment approach that joins addiction experts and mental health specialists has always been a barrier in the industry. In recent decades, combining treatment for both conditions has been gaining traction.

Integrated services incorporate a wide range of methods because the goal is to achieve relief from both conditions simultaneously, which prevents relapse and backsliding in both. A team of clinicians or multiple agencies may work together to provide coordination for services on the SUD side and mental health side. Below are a few principles of an integrated approach:

  • Substance addiction and mental health treatment are integrated to meet the needs of dual diagnosis
  • Integrated treatment specialists are trained to treat both conditions
  • Co-occurring conditions are treated stage by stage with different services provided at every stage
  • Counselors use a cognitive-behavioral method in the active treatment and relapse prevention stage
  • Multiple services including individual, group, and family therapies are available 
  • Medication services are integrated with psychotherapy

Incorporating Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy

The effectiveness of CBT has made it the gold standard of psychotherapy when treating SUD-related mental health issues. A trained cognitive-behavioral therapist helps people learn how to identify and change negative thought patterns. Such negative thoughts have a detrimental influence on mood. Through CBT, these negative thoughts are identified, challenged, and replaced with more objective, realistic, and positive thoughts.

CBT uses a range of techniques such as talk therapy, role-playing, journaling, and mental distractions to effectively treat clients. The therapist trains clients to build self-awareness about the connections linking their thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. This self-awareness and self-monitoring acts as an antidote to anxiety, depression, and other SUD-related mental health concerns.

This element of integrated treatment also helps clients build new coping skills such as rehearsing ways to avoid certain social situations that could potentially trigger cravings and relapse. Goal-setting is another important skill. The therapist can teach individuals how to identify goals, distinguish between short-term and long-term goals, set SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, time-based) goals, and focus on the process as much as the end outcome.

As one of the most studied forms of treatment, CBT offers a range of health benefits, including:

  • Providing evidence-based treatment for eating disorders
  • Alleviating insomnia and sleep disorders
  • Treating symptoms of anxiety and depression in children and teens
  • Addressing obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Improving self-control and stress management

Expectations When Working With a CBT Therapist

Equipped with the knowledge of what CBT is and why it is an essential part of an integrated treatment approach, one may wonder what exactly happens in a CBT session. In the early sessions, they may be similar to any other therapy. The therapist will discuss goals, history, and main problems the client wants to address. Together, the therapist and participant create a treatment or action plan.

CBT sessions usually last eight to twelve weeks. The therapist will provide coaching on certain techniques to relax and destress. They may ask the client to keep a journal of thoughts and emotions throughout the week. They also ask them to target a specific area of growth, such as emotional regulation.

While other treatment approaches spend a great deal of time digging deep and asking why one feels depressed, anxious, or has low self-esteem, CBT sticks to current thoughts and behaviors. For example, rather than trying to understand why a participant feels anxious in certain situations, CBT seeks to identify thought patterns and behaviors that cause anxiety and change them.

If a client struggles with negative self-talk, a cognitive-behavioral therapist may discuss techniques to increase awareness and redirect the thoughts to something more positive and self-affirmative. One may be assigned “homework” to practice these techniques at least once a day. Over the course of twelve weeks, these symptoms can be greatly improved.

CBT is an effective form of treatment because it uses a range of techniques such as talk therapy, role-playing, journaling, and mental distractions to treat mental health disorders. The therapist trains people to build self-awareness about their thoughts, emotions, and behaviors so they can be changed for the better. CBT is especially helpful in an integrated treatment plan, where CBT is just one of many treatment methods used to address a person’s SUD and co-occurring mental health disorders. At Laguna Shores Recovery, we strive to provide customized, integrated treatment programs to ensure your best chance at sustainable recovery. We incorporate detox, medication, CBT, 12-Step groups, relationship skills coaching, and more that can greatly enhance your experience on the road to recovery. Call Laguna Shores Recovery at (866) 906-3203 to learn more about how we view CBT’s place in an integrated treatment approach.