Cognitive Therapy as a Recovery Tool

Cognitive therapy is a type of psychotherapy developed by American psychiatrist Aaron T. Beck. It states that thoughts, feelings and behavior are all connected, and that individuals can move toward overcoming difficulties and meeting their goals by identifying and changing unhelpful or inaccurate thinking, problematic behavior, and distressing emotional responses. It is valuable in treating alcoholism and drug addiction. In this recovery group one member shared a distressing situation while we walked through a series of steps to examine her thoughts. As a result, she felt some relief. Listen in to this podcast to see what helps.

Discussion Guideline:

Situation – Describe a distressing situation. What happened? Where? When? Who with? How?

Identify Emotions/Mood – What emotion did you feel at that time? What else? How intense was the emotion?

Physical Sensations – What did you notice in your body? Where did you feel it?

Unhelpful Thoughts – What went through your mind? What did those thoughts/images mean to you? What would be the worst thing about that, or that could happen?

Alternative, realistic thoughts – Is there another way of seeing it? Is your reaction in proportion to the actual event?

What is the best response? – What would be more effective? What will be most helpful for me or the situation?


Thought Record Sheet,