Today I want to talk about cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and how it is utilized in conjunction with other therapies in the recovery process, including the 12 Steps. Philosophically and at our core as an organization, New Directions for Women is drenched in the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. Our women attend multiple 12 Step meetings on and off campus which provide them with an opportunity to talk and listen. Consequently, it works in union with cognitive behavioral therapy. While each patient is different, studies have shown that CBT has been successful in the treatment of addiction with a positive response rate, especially from women. The therapy focuses on the relationships that each patient has between her feelings, thoughts and behaviors.
Studies have shown that women are also very experiential in nature. Before they can get into a cognitive therapy group they have to identify their feelings through an experience. Our facilities, as well as many others, provide experiential therapy with activities such as rock wall climbing, ropes courses, kayaking and equine therapy, all of which provide opportunities for women to experience feelings that can be identified and correlated to specific situations or circumstances in their lifetime.
For example, a woman might be traumatized through some form of abuse (be it sexual, physical, or verbal in nature) at some point in her life (whether young, middle aged, or later in life). Through the experience of rock wall climbing or kayaking, the activity brings up for her the emotion of fear and suddenly the patient identifies when that traumatic event occurred, and she finds herself experiencing the same feeling through this experience. During CBT, patients are asked to identify their feelings and how they might impact their lives negatively. This process allows the patients to find out how their thinking patterns correlate to destructive behavior. By identifying this they can process this feeling. However, it is important that first, they identify the feeling that was associated with the traumatic event.