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Cognitive behavioural therapy

Cognitive behavioural therapy encompasses a range of behavioural and cognitive behavioural therapies, in part derived from the cognitive behavioural model of affective disorders, in which the patient works collaboratively with a therapist using a shared formulation to achieve specific treatment goals. Such goals may include recognising the impact of behavioural and/or thinking patterns on feeling states and encouraging alternative cognitive and/or behavioural coping skills to reduce the severity of target symptoms and problems. Therapies relevant to the field of drug misuse include standard cognitive behavioural therapy and relapse-prevention cognitive behavioural therapy.


Standard cognitive behavioural therapy: A discrete, time limited, structured psychological intervention, derived from a cognitive model of drug misuse (Beck et al., 1993). There is an emphasis on identifying and modifying irrational thoughts, managing negative mood and intervening after a lapse to prevent a full-blown relapse (Maude-Griffin, 1998).


Relapse-prevention cognitive behavioural therapy: This differs from standard cognitive behavioural therapy in the emphasis on training drug users to develop skills to identify situations or states where they are most vulnerable to drug use, to avoid high-risk situations, and to use a range of cognitive and behavioural strategies to cope effectively with these situations (Carroll & Onken, 2005).

Key CBT publications in the NDC collection

See also, NICE pathway Drug misuse: psychosocial interventions

Pilling et al (2010) Psychosocial interventions in drug misuse: a framework and toolkit for implementing NICE-recommended treatment interventions

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