Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT), is one of the biggest innovations in therapy of the last 100 years, giving us the idea of “change your thinking, change your life.” It provides the underpinning for almost all other therapeutic techniques in use today, including EMDR, IFS, CPT, and more. It has been shown to provide relief from depression, anxiety, trauma of all kinds, phobias, and more. It can help remove roadblocks to recovery from addiction and thus provides the foundation of the SMART Recovery program.

One of the most exciting aspects of CBT is that it is a set of tools that any client can learn and use on their own. Thus, one of our goals at Windmill is to help each client learn CBT through guided practice with their individual therapist, in groups, in SMART Recovery on-campus meetings, and in CBT classes.

How Does CBT Work?

CBT works by first helping clients to recognize that everyone carries a set of beliefs about themselves, the world around them, and what they should expect to happen in the future. The nature and strength of these beliefs dictate how a person feels, acts, and reacts to their environment. For instance, if a person believes they are weak and the world is dangerous, they will likely expect threats at every turn. Based on this, they may feel crippling anxiety, or they may decide they have to act like a bully to keep those threats at bay. CBT helps clients see what beliefs they carry, which ones are strongest, and to recognize the beliefs that are causing them to feel and behave in ways they no longer want. As these maladaptive beliefs are identified, CBT offers a set of thinking and behavioral exercises to challenge and change those beliefs into ones that better serve the client by leading to more comfortable feelings and better behaviors.

As clients are guided through these techniques and exercises at Windmill, they become more and more able to do them on their own. Clients regularly report being able to identify and challenge beliefs that are getting in their way in real time, and substitute beliefs that lead to better outcomes both while in treatment and for the rest of their lives.

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