Become a member of Allies in Recovery and we’ll teach you how to intervene, communicate and guide your loved one toward treatment.Become a member of Allies in Recovery today.

The ABCs of CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy)


The world is full of voices telling us to change how we think. “Do it and you’ll fix your life!” goes the well-meaning refrain. But for most of us, it’s not that easy. Changing how we think, or feel, requires work.  

Some forms of therapy focus strictly on thoughts; others focus strictly on behavior. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) looks at thoughts, feelings and behavior together, and how each of these affects the others. CBT has been shown to be one of the most effective approaches for dealing with both anxiety and depression. 

Barbara Heffernan, a licensed social worker and psychotherapist, has seen great success using CBT with her clients for over fifteen years. In this short, straightforward video, she not only introduces CBT but explains how you can give its core principles a try using a simple log. 

As Heffernan notes, we’re rarely able just to “will” a change in feelings. But we can often choose how we behave: we can get up and exercise even if we don’t feel like it. And that very change in behavior can, in spite of ourselves, make us feel better. Instead of a vicious circle of negativity, CBT can result in a virtuous cycle of improving feelings, behavior, and thoughts.  

Take a look (even if you don’t feel like it right now!). CBT is a potentially life-changing tool, and this is one of the best starting points for it you’ll find.  


Related Posts from "Resource Supplement"

Needles In The Ear Can Help With Addiction? You Heard That Right

You’d be forgiven if ear acupuncture isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when talk turns to substance use disorder. Numerous studies, however, are documenting the efficacy of a specific procedure (the NADA protocol) for help with craving, withdrawal, and other aspects of addiction. As this article points out, however, the key to success with NADA lies in the details.

Naming and Understanding the Symptoms of Childhood Trauma

Childhood trauma of any kind leaves its mark. Severe or sustained trauma generates certain telltale symptoms in survivors. Licensed therapist and life coach Patrick Teahan, himself a survivor of childhood trauma, breaks down three of the most prominent symptoms. By reaching a deeper understanding of what’s occurring inside us, he argues, we’re in a far better position to overcome the challenges that result.

Substance Use Disorder: A Guide For the Family

The Recovery Research Institute, affiliated with Harvard Medical School, is dedicated to advancing the understanding and treatment of addiction. This page on substance use and the family is an extremely well-designed information hub. It’s a great place to start your journey to deeper understanding—or to remind yourself of the basics.

“We Were So Blind” : Dr Bessel van der Kolk on Healing Trauma, Part II

In this second part of his discussion on healing trauma—which is perfectly understandable on its own—celebrated psychologist and author Bessel van der Kolk will leave you feeling both hopeful and humbled. Whether it’s professional-administered psychedelics, EMDR, or yoga, he sees a world of promise for trauma sufferers. But he also stresses that these treatments, like trauma itself, are something we’re just beginning to understand.

Gabor Maté: How Childhood Trauma Leads to Addiction

Early trauma and addiction are painfully connected. Understanding that connection can help us recover from both. Addiction, says physician and author Gabor Maté, is not fundamentally a brain disorder or a consequence of genetics. Rather, it’s a doomed attempt to escape the pain and suffering rooted in childhood trauma. For anyone with a Loved One struggling with substance use, this connection is vital to understand.

Traumatic Stress and the Body: Healing Together

We are hardwired to respond strongly to trauma—and those responses can linger even when the source of trauma’s gone. In Part One of a marvelous discussion, psychiatrist and author Bessel van der Kolk helps us understand our own involuntary behavior when faced with (or remembering) trauma, and how we can change that behavior for the better.


In your comments, please show respect for each other and do not give advice. Please consider that your choice of words has the power to reduce stigma and change opinions (ie, "person struggling with substance use" vs. "addict", "use" vs. "abuse"...)