Cognitive Behavior Therapy to Quit Smoking

What is Cognitive Behavior Therapy?

Cognitive behavior therapy has been used for more than 30 years as a means of helping people develop new ways of thinking about situations in their lives. It is a psychotherapy that combines two approaches - cognitive and behavior therapies - and is a short term, goal oriented, and conscious process. It differs considerably from the Freudian Psychoanalytic therapy in several ways. The Freudian system is based on uncovering hidden or masked feelings and is often very intensive and time consuming - and it is open ended, which means it can go on and on. Cognitive therapy is short-term and explores the thoughts that produce incorrect behaviors with the recognition of the unrealistic nature of these thoughts. Usually sessions for smoking cessation last about 16 weeks.

How Does it Work?

When using this type of therapy a person works with a trained therapist and talks about issues and ways of dealing with feelings that are relative to current issues. It doesn't delve into the past. The therapist helps identify the distorted and negative thought patterns and assists the person in recognizing and changing beliefs that are not accurate. It is goal oriented and problem-focused, teaching clients rational thinking and self-counseling skills.

Using cognitive therapy to help a person stop smoking entails increasing the person's confidence in himself about his ability to actually stop smoking. The individual explores (with the therapist) the reasons for mixed feelings about smoking - wanting to quit but wanting to smoke as well, and he learns ways of dealing with stress and the urges to smoke that may come up.

Retraining the Mind to be Positive

Being aware of thoughts and learning to notice negative thoughts such as, "I'll never be able to do this" or "What's the point?" is also taught. Then the individual learns how to respond to these thoughts with the purpose of changing destructive thought patterns into healthy ones that eventually become automatic. Reality checks are built in so a person learns how to distinguish between realistic and unrealistic though patterns while practicing skills designed to change thought and behavior patterns.

Alone or as a Complimentary Treatment - It Works

Sometimes cognitive therapy is used as a complimentary therapy alongside an antidepressant, Zyban, or nicotine replacement therapy. However, it has been proven to be effective on its own as well. It has also been proven to be more effective than telephone-based general support, where people are committed to talking at regular times with someone on the phone to receive support in their efforts to quit smoking.

Whether used alone or alongside medication or nicotine replacement, cognitive therapy has been proven to be a valuable aid in smoking cessation.