Cognitive Behavior Therapy as a Treatment Tool

Social Worker Resource
May 17, 2013 — 2,004 views  
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Cognitive behavior therapies can help clients who can take a philosophical view of their problems. Therapeutic methods such as Cognitive Therapy, Dialectic Behavior Therapy, Rational Behavior Therapy, Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy and Rational Living Therapy are grounded in Stoicism and use Socratic Questioning as a tool. The basic belief is that our thoughts influence our emotions, and our emotions influence our behavior. Therapists who employ these methods work to encourage their clients to examine and question their own thought processes and beliefs. The goal is to help the clients understand how erroneous thinking and lack of self-awareness lead to negative emotions, lack of self-control and self-destructive behavior.

Cognitive behavior therapies are different than psychoanalysis and other forms of therapy in that they are not open-ended. The therapist and the client usually set a goal at the start of the therapy with a client and schedule a limited number of sessions. A good working relationship between the client and the therapist is necessary and important, but is not the focus of the therapy.

Much of the research into the effectiveness of cognitive behavior therapies has focused on compulsive gamblers. Problem gamblers tend to think of some of their losses as near misses. They believe they are “due” to win. They forget their losses and remember their wins. They focus on luck rather than odds. Cognitive behavior therapists help clients to understand the numbers involved in games of chance, help them to take a realistic view of their skill at these games and help them assess their level of self-control. Using cognitive behavior therapies to address other forms of compulsive behavior use similar techniques. They use Socratic Questioning and homework assignments to help clients with a sexual interest in children examine their motives for strolling past a playground or shopping at a store across the street from a school. They may help clients who compulsively exercise to learn about realistic numbers regarding caloric intake and energy expenditure.

Clients who have problems with substance abuse may need to use cognitive behavioral therapies in conjunction with medication or 12 step programs. The same principals apply, however. Clients are encouraged to ask themselves questions so as to produce realistic assessments of their level of self-control. As with the pedophile who must ask himself why his errand must take him past the playground, the alcoholic is encouraged to ask himself if he really stopped by the bar to shoot a friendly game of pool. Those with substance abuse problems are also given homework assignments to help them understand the emotions and situations that may lead to drinking or drug use. They are asked to develop strategies to redirect their thoughts so that they are in control of their emotions and not controlled by their emotions.

Cognitive behavior therapies are not for everyone. A qualified therapist can assess which cognitive behavior therapy is most appropriate for a particular client. Those who are capable of self-questioning and self-examination cannot benefit greatly from cognitive behavior therapies.

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