It’s been awhile since we blogged, but we are hoping to increase our blogging activity now that enrollment in the program has started. We already have several clients enrolled to MW&R who are receiving treatment for their substance use using the internet, phone, and texting! Our team is so excited to be able to make treatment accessible to those who wouldn’t be able to get treatment otherwise!
One of the best features of our program is that it is based on evidence-based Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) (evidence-based means CBT has been proven to be effective). Many people have a general understanding of CBT, but I wanted to take some time to give a nice detailed account of CBT and how we are using it in our program. Let's start
You'll notice the four different points (feelings, thoughts, behaviors, and environment) and the arrows connecting each of the points. The arrows indicate all of the points have influence over each other. Sometimes the model is best understood with an example:
Let’s say your drug of choice is alcohol. You walk into Walmart and see the big display of cases of beer stacked up for the Super Bowl (environment). You start to think “It’s the Super Bowl! Everyone drinks, so I should be able to drink, too! (thought).” The thought of drinking gets you excited (feeling) and you pick up a case, buy it, and later drink it (behavior).
In this example, the environment led to the thought which led to the feeling which led to the behavior. You don’t have to start with environment; you can start and end anywhere in the model! Let’s look at another example:
You’re standing around in your kitchen when you start feeling anxious; your hands start sweating, your heart and thoughts are racing, and it’s getting hard to breathe (feelings). You get the thought, “If I use, all of this will go away!” (thought). You quickly slip on your shoes and run to the liquor store to buy some alcohol (environment). When you get home, you pop open a beer and drink (behavior).
In this example, it was the feeling that led to the thought which led to the environment which led to the behavior.
We can use the model to identify the patterns of your use, triggers, and high risk situations as well as where your skills need strengthened. If anxiety is a trigger, we’re going to give you coping skills for anxiety. If thoughts are what typically lead you to use, we want to help you challenge those thoughts. If being around certain environments, situations, and people are high risk, we want to give you skills to approach or avoid those situations without using.
As you learn the skills, you will probably notice they seem like common sense; many skills in CBT are straightforward and many people do them without realizing they are skills! However, people are not always able to think clearly or act sensibly and may find it difficult to use the skills naturally. CBT helps people identify the useful skills they are already using and sharpen them so they can use them intentionally and purposefully when needed.
So that’s CBT in a nutshell! I know it was a lot to throw at you at once! If you have any questions or something seems unclear, please email us at email@example.com; I’m happy to clarify or explain!
Now, you might be wondering how we are going to give you CBT using the internet and phone. Everyone who enrolls to MW&R will be given access to a web-based CBT program called TES (Therapeutic Education System). TES contains tons of CBT-based modules (complete with videos!) that clients click through to learn the skills. These modules include assertive refusal skills, decision making skills, managing negative thinking skills, identifying high risk situations and triggers, and much more! Corey (our counselor) will work with you to choose which modules will best help you achieve your recovery goals. Each week you’ll complete your modules and maybe a worksheet. Corey will call you later in the week to make sure you understood the material, answer any questions you may have, and review which modules are scheduled for the next week. In addition to TES, clients who have a smart phone will be given access to an app called ACHESS that has all sorts of awesome functions to help you stay on your recovery path! My personal favorite is the function that allows you to flag areas that are high risk. When you get close to your high risk areas, the phone will warn you! In addition to the CBT programs, our staff has been trained extensively in CBT and are always working to sharpen our skills.
I hope this blog entry has been helpful and has even increased your interest in CBT and MW&R! I just want to remind readers that this program is FREE and allows you to complete substance use treatment at your own pace in your own space. Even probation officers are getting on board! We have had several probation officers give the OK for their clients to complete this program in place of other court ordered treatments! Again, please send us an email or fill out the “contact us” form if you have any questions about CBT, TES, ACHESS, or MW&R!
Corey Campbell is a clinician/trainer with the Human Service Center of Peoria, IL. All thoughts on this blog are representative of only Corey and do not reflect the Human Service Center.