Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Benefits Transcend Treatment


Recognizing thoughts. Identifying beliefs. Changing behaviors. It’s a practice most people would admit they would benefit from. Cognitive behavioral therapy is an evidence based, scientifically backed therapy method which has been proven to work across mental health disorders since its development in the 1980s. Goal-oriented, cognitive behavioral therapy, most often referred to as CBT, is different from traditional talk therapy. CBT identifies harmful behaviors in need of change then sorts through the various beliefs of those behaviors, uncovering the underlying thoughts behind them. Reprogramming the thoughts and beliefs makes it possible to change the behaviors. For people with behavioral issues, like drug addiction, alcoholism, eating disorders, and more, CBT is an immensely helpful tool in eliminating destructive behaviors. However, the positive effects of CBT are not restricted to people in therapy or treatment due to a diagnosis. New research finds that CBT has a positive effect on professional athletes for managing stress.

At LEAD Recovery Center, we emphasize physical activity in both fitness and outdoor settings. We understand that recovery for mental health is best supported by focusing on mind, body, and spirit. Physical health is important for aiding the body in its progress eliminating years of toxins, building strength, enhancing sleep, and creating more energy. Outdoor sports activities like fishing, surfing, kayaking, mountain climbing, and organized sports help our clients in many ways. Boosting self esteem, creating experiential learning opportunities, and navigating challenges in real time are part of the recovery process.

According to Science Daily, the study found that CBT techniques like “cognitive restructuring” helped professional female hockey players “identify what put them under pressure, understand how they responded emotionally, and then consider more helpful alternative responses.” For the players in the study, the results, says the article, “were immediate.” With the help of CBT, the players were able to transform their mentalities, turning threats into challenges, “resulting in more positive emotions and higher satisfaction with their performance.”

It is easy to get discouraged during treatment. Progress is not always obvious and the threat of relapse looms. Clients can find themselves in an ultimatum style of thinking- “if I don’t progress all the time, I’m going to relapse.” Therefore, even small progress and performance is unsatisfying. Dangerously, this can turn into a mindset of “I’m not getting any better, so what is the point.” The threat of relapse is tied to shame and stigma that relapse is failing. Instead of viewing recovery as a threatening necessity, CBT and outdoor sports help change clients’ mentalities to see recovery as a challenge. Each day clients are challenged in staying sober, working hard, and continuing to progress, however big or small. Outdoor activities mirror this philosophy perfectly. Every time a client paddles out into the ocean, casts their fishing line into the sea, or starts to climb up the face of a local mountain, they are faced with the challenge of their mind.


LEAD Recovery Center calls the beautiful coastal mountains of Southern California home. For information on our multiphase transitional care programs for after inpatient treatment, call us today at 800-380-0012.