Cognitive Skills

ThinkingYour quality of life is not determined by what happens around you, but your perception of what goes on around you. When you change your mindset, you can change your life. This is the basic premise of cognitive therapy. Cognitive therapy is built on the idea that we can be victims of our own bias. It combats two basic misconceptions:

1. Our emotions can’t be controlled or regulated.
2. Our thoughts are 100% accurate reflections of the reality around us.

This is a powerful technique for addiction recovery because it puts the power back in the hands of the patient. They can identify their cravings, faulty coping techniques, and harmful cycles, and learn how to reset them.

Developing Cognitive Skills is an Important Part of Addiction Recovery

We teach patients skills to decode their own thought processes and reroute them into more helpful avenues. Cognitive therapy works for a variety of problems because it is so adaptive and because it’s formed through a partnership between the therapist and patient. Together, we work to set goals, identify cognitive biases, and build new skills and habits to better cope with life.

A common thread that we see with our patients is that they turned to addiction in response to pressures in their life that they had no internal resources to deal with. Without proper coping and stress management or trauma recovery strategies, patients turn to maladaptive behaviors in order to treat out of control emotions and distress. In order to create true healing and balance in their lives, we need to empower patients with the tools they need to counteract the stress and emotions that will inevitably crop up in their life, without turning to addictive behaviors and habits.

Cognitive therapy empowers patients to become their own therapists, stepping outside of themselves to identify and overcome problems. This is a great long-term solution, since it enables patients to become self-sufficient, and in control of their own treatment, an idea that appeals to many people who feel out of control or helpless. Cognitive therapy has been shown to be just as effective as medication in long-term treatment, and unlike medication, it’s free of unwanted side effects.

Examples of Cognitive Skills We Build with Our Patients:


  • identifying and countering degrading self-talk
  • stress regulation
  • relaxation therapy
  • testing distorted thinking and re-routing it
  • socratic questioning that reduces fallacies to their most basic elements so that patients can identify faulty reasoning
  • mastery and pleasure technique
  • downward arrow technique (learning to identify underlying beliefs that may be the root of faulty thinking or assumptions)