While in a drug or alcohol addiction treatment program, a variety of therapies are used to help patients maintain their sobriety. Family counseling, group therapy, and individual psychotherapy all play a role in providing individuals with substance use disorders the tools and skills to prevent relapse once they leave treatment. Another type of therapy that is used to facilitate sustained recovery is Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT). REBT techniques and interventions are successful treatment modalities that you may find especially helpful during your time at Harmony Ridge.
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The Importance of Therapy for Addiction Treatment
Stopping the use of drugs or alcohol in favor of sobriety is a difficult task to accomplish. However, it is one that often gives people their lives back. The difficulty in stopping drug or alcohol abuse comes from how addiction changes the human mind and body. When caught in the cycle of addiction, your body will develop a physical and psychological dependence on whatever substance you were abusing.
Addiction treatment doesn’t end when someone stops using drugs. Even after detox, addicts need addiction treatment. Many people who become dependent on drugs and alcohol did so due to different stressors in their lives. Thus, therapy is essential to equip those in treatment with ways to cope with whatever life throws at them without needing to turn to drugs or alcohol. REBT accomplishes this goal through the combination of different REBT techniques.
What is Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy?
REBT is a form of psychotherapy that combines components of both cognitive and behavioral therapies, which are often used for treating different types of addiction. Therapists use REBT in the same way that psychiatrists and psychologists use Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).
Irrational or negative thought patterns are identified in REBT therapy sessions. Once these beliefs are identified, a therapist will work with you to replace them with positive and constructive thoughts and beliefs.
REBT techniques are useful in treating many different psychological issues. People who are suffering from mental illnesses in particular benefit greatly from this therapy. Additionally, REBT is used to treat:
- Fears and phobias
- Addictive behaviors
- Overwhelming feelings of guilt
- Excessive anger and aggression
- Feelings of depression and anxiety
- Procrastination or an inability to focus
- Eating disorders or disordered eating habits
REBT therapists teach their patients to identify and analyze irrational beliefs. REBT therapists also help their clients explore the consequences of accepting such beliefs and encourage them to think about the rationalization for these beliefs. This is accomplished through the use of countering, role-playing, modeling, shaping, behavioral experiments, paradoxical intentions, reframing, and distraction.
How REBT Techniques Change Negative Thought Patterns
While most people want to do well in life, negative thoughts can hold them back. Unfortunately, these thoughts can be so powerful that they influence how one reacts to his or her environment and situations in life. Furthermore, these thoughts can transform a seemingly normal situation into one which diminishes your self-worth based on how you perceive the situation.
Irrational feelings that push you away from your goals and towards drugs can be overcome through the application of REBT techniques. For example, let’s say you text a friend to see if he or she wants to go out for dinner. You don’t hear back from them for hours. Irrational thoughts will push you to believe that you have no true friends, your friend hates you, and that they have been spending hours figuring out how to turn you down.
In reality, your friend may be busy, or at work and will respond when he or she has the chance. Instead of waiting for your friend’s text, you may tell him or her something off-putting or you delete his or her number. REBT would instead have you recognize that such thoughts and behaviors are not helpful and are often irrational.
The ABC Model Used in REBT
A person’s beliefs are often influenced by a goal being blocked. If we take the example of a friend not responding for hours, the goal being blocked is having dinner with said friend. The perceived blocking of this goal is what led to thoughts like: “I have no friends,” or “this friend hates me.” Then to cope with feelings of loneliness and embarrassment, the person with these thoughts will turn to drugs or alcohol to cope.
In REBT, these harmful patterns are eliminated through the use of a model called the ABC model. The ABC model is used to analyze situations. Each of the letters represents the core principles of REBT. The A is the activating event, the B is the negative beliefs, and the c is the consequences of acting on those beliefs.
How the ABC Model of REBT Works
Using the example of a friend not texting back, these are how the core principles of REBT work:
- Activating event: This is the situation that triggered a negative emotion, thought, or belief. In our example, the A is the friend not replying right away.
- Belief or irrational thought: The belief that your friend dislikes you was the irrational thought in this situation.
- Consequences: The consequences of irrational thought can be emotional distress, feelings of anxiety and depression, or the urge to turn to drugs.
REBT therapy techniques focus on helping patients to reframe how they respond to an activating event. Using our example, a therapist would encourage the patient to think of more logical reasons why the friend didn’t respond. Maybe the friend was at work or busy running errands. The friend’s phone could have been out of battery or the ring tone was on silent. On the other hand, even if the friend wasn’t interested, REBT would encourage the patient to not take that to mean there is something inherently wrong with themselves.
REBT involves different techniques. These include problem-solving techniques, cognitive restructuring techniques, and coping techniques. As a result, these techniques, when used in addiction treatment can help patients replace the negative emotions that come from irrational thoughts. With a better frame of mind, patients can then behave in ways that benefit themselves and their well-being.
Problem-Solving REBT Techniques
REBT problem-solving techniques involve REBT therapists working with their patients to find solutions and alternatives. These usually focus on the A in the ABC method, the activating event. By focusing on this event and changing how the patient initial reacts, therapists instill the following skills in the patient:
- problem-solving skills
- social skills
- decision-making skills
- conflict resolution skills
Cognitive Restructuring REBT Techniques
REBT cognitive restructuring techniques help REBT therapists challenge irrational thoughts and beliefs that promote emotional disturbance and unhealthy behaviors. This REBT technique focuses on the B in the ABC method. REBT therapists utilize the following to help patients change irrational beliefs:
- logical or rationalizing techniques
- guided imagery and visualization
- reframing, or looking at events in a different way
- humor and irony
- exposure to a feared situation
- disputing irrational thoughts
Coping REBT Techniques
REBT coping skills techniques aids patients with decision-making when dealing with the C in the ABC method. Therapists assist REBT patients by teaching healthy ways for patients to deal with stressful events through the following methods:
Benefits of REBT for Addiction Treatment
REBT techniques benefit patients who suffer from many conditions. Patients in addiction treatment, in particular, benefit from REBT. This is because REBT techniques effectively address the symptoms of addiction, such as irrational thinking and emotional disturbances. Moreover, by assisting patients and helping them recognize irrational thinking and find healthier ways to deal with their emotions, patients can work through issues without substances.
REBT also helps patients understand that they are not alone in this world and that other people suffer from similar feelings. Instead of taking an activating event personally, patients will understand that these are normal occurrences that likely have nothing to do with them. Additionally, REBT does not label people as addicts or alcoholics but rather shows them there is hope for living a happier life without substance abuse.
Other benefits of using REBT techniques include the following:
- Moderating disturbing feelings
- Finding appropriate ways to respond to situations
- Recognizing that you can not control events in life
- Avoiding responding to irrational thoughts or beliefs
- Understanding that drugs aren’t the solution to life’s difficulties
- Acknowledging that what you can control is your reaction to difficult situations
How Effective is REBT
REBT is one of the most effective forms of psychotherapy. This comprehensive approach to emotional and behavioral problems is one of the most extensively researched therapies, with over 1,000 empirical studies that support its efficacy.
One such study, focusing on 84 separate articles on the efficacy of REBT, found that REBT is a valuable treatment method for certain conditions such as depression, anxiety, and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD). Unfortunately, many of these conditions are common in people who suffer from substance use disorders. On the bright side, this makes REBT a good choice for patients who have a dual diagnosis.
Recovering from Addiction with REBT at Harmony Ridge
There are many ways to treat substance abuse and addiction. Here at Harmony Ridge, we offer various forms of therapy including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavior Therapy, family therapy, group therapy, art therapy, and other holistic therapies. No matter what your needs are, we will find treatment options that work best for you.
If you or a loved one is ready to commit to sobriety, contact us today.