Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for Dual Diagnosis

Man and therapist discuss cbt for dual diagnosis

The National Institute on Drug Abuse estimates that between 50% and 60% of those living with a substance or alcohol use disorder also have an additional mental health disorder. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is often included in a comprehensive dual diagnosis treatment program because it has been found to be an effective treatment for a variety of mental health concerns. If you’re interested in CBT for recovery in Nebraska, contact Northpoint Omaha today at 888.687.8014.

What Is Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy?

If you or your loved one is asking, “What is cognitive-behavioral therapy?” you’re not alone. Many people are unfamiliar with this therapeutic approach, even though it has been practiced since the 1960s. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is based on core beliefs that include:

  • Psychological issues are at least partly caused by faulty (negative) thinking patterns
  • Psychological problems are, in part, the result of learned patterns of unhelpful thinking and behavior
  • People with psychological programs can learn new, productive ways of thinking and behaving, thereby easing their mental health symptoms and becoming more effective at reaching their goals.

The goal of CBT treatment is to transform negative thinking patterns into positive ones. This is accomplished through a variety of strategies, including identifying your own distortions in thinking and reevaluating them, learning new problem-solving skills, facing your fears, and practicing relaxation techniques.

CBT therapists focus on the present and problems a patient is having in their current life, not past traumas. Because CBT does not require long discussions about personal history and unresolved issues, it is a relatively fast-moving therapeutic process. Patients typically undergo only five to 20 sessions.

CBT for Dual Diagnosis: How Does It Help?

Cognitive-behavioral therapy has been found effective for treating substance use disorders in addition to a variety of mental health disorders and concerns, including:

  • Depression
  • PTSD
  • Anxiety
  • Eating disorders
  • Self-harm
  • Suicidal ideation

Patients who have a dual diagnosis may have better outcomes when both (or all) of their mental health concerns are treated simultaneously. Including CBT in an addiction treatment program can make that program more effective overall.

The success of CBT for dual diagnosis largely depends on the dynamic between the therapist and client. They must collaborate to build trust and establish positive, honest communication. CBT is not a passive type of therapy; individuals must actively participate in their own recovery.

Therapists will assign homework for patients to complete between sessions and may expect patients to complete specific exercises, such as keeping a journal. There are a number of steps in the CBT process, including:

  • Identify difficult or stressful situations (triggers)
  • Identify the emotions, thoughts, and beliefs related to difficult situations
  • Address negative patterns that are contributing to poor mental health
  • Identify whether the negative patterns are based on facts or inaccurate perceptions

Unlike some other forms of therapy, the ultimate goal of CBT is to empower the patient to become their own therapist. By identifying negative behaviors and unlearning them, CBT patients learn how to react in healthier, more constructive ways.

Dual Diagnosis and CBT

Many people who are struggling with mental health concerns like anxiety and depression begin using substances as a way to self-medicate their mental health symptoms.

When this happens at an early age, individuals do not get the opportunity to learn healthy coping skills or stress management skills. CBT teaches these skills without excavating the past. In this way, dual diagnosis and CBT are a natural duo. This approach can help you make lasting changes.

Learn More About Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy at Northpoint Omaha

Cognitive-behavioral therapy is only one of the effective therapies we offer at Northpoint Omaha. For more information about our substance use and dual diagnosis treatment programs, call Northpoint Omaha today at 888.687.8014.