The Benefits of CBT During and After Incarceration

Published On: January 3, 2024|Categories: Addiction Treatment, Mental Health Treatment|
Man in prison

Most everyone is familiar with the concept of talk therapy – you seek out a counselor and chat with them about your life, your struggles, mental health challenges and the overall complications you face in daily life. While talk therapy has been stereotyped in the media, there are countless benefits associated with the various methods. 

One evidence-based approach to talk therapy, called cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), allows you the ability to not only talk about your thoughts, concerns and emotions in a safe space but provides an environment in which you can receive guidance and learn to reorient your thought processes. 

This is extremely beneficial for all but has shown unique benefits in certain populations, including formerly incarcerated individuals seeking to reestablish themselves in society. 

What is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)?

Cognitive behavioral therapy is a form of talk therapy known for valuing the important role our thoughts and notions of the world play in our choices and behaviors.

“The core premise of CBT is simple: The way we think about situations shapes our choices, behavior and actions. If flawed or maladaptive thoughts, attitudes and beliefs lead to inappropriate and even destructive behavior, then changing those thoughts, attitudes and beliefs can lead to more appropriate, pro-social behavior.” 

CBT works to help people make better choices by giving them the tools to understand the way they think. So many times bad choices are made in the absence of pausing to think about our actions, whether or not we want to make that choice and the driving force behind it – these gut impulses often lead to poor decision-making. 

But by training individuals to pause and consider their actions – and the all-encompassing thought patterns motivating these actions – behavioral changes can begin to take effect. In other words, “Cognitive behavioral therapy can help restructure distorted thinking and perception, which in turn changes a person’s behavior for the better.”

The benefits of CBT 

Cognitive behavioral therapy exercises provide numerous benefits for everyone seriously pursuing its methods and have been proven to highly benefit those seeking to reestablish themselves after time spent in jail. It not only gives these men and women the skills needed to reenter society, but it also offers the hope that treatment is effective and recovery is attainable. 

Those utilizing cognitive behavioral therapy as part of their treatment program are likely to experience: 

  • An improvement in social skills
  • Boosted impulse control and self-control 
  • Increased moral and critical reasoning skills 
  • The enhanced ability to problem-solve
  • Reduction in violent and aggressive behavior tendencies 
  • Increased ability to understand and manage emotions 
  • An ability to manage mental health symptoms, including anxiety, depression, PTSD and substance use disorders 
  • Improved communication skills

Because cognitive behavior therapy allows you to understand your emotions, you will likely feel an increased sense of self-knowledge and self-worth. This, in turn, will boost self-confidence in such a way that positive choices will be pursued as a means of upholding this improved sense of self. 

When we better understand our thoughts and feelings, and give them the space they need without letting them take control, negative impulses and emotional choices are less likely to influence our decisions.

How CBT Positively Impacts Former Inmates 

Men and women who have previously been incarcerated often find the benefits of CBT invaluable in helping them reintegrate themselves back into society and avoid the behaviors that previously led to their time in jail. 

Studies have also shown that for both juveniles and adults, CBT helped reduce recidivism, that is, reincarceration. When they are given the tools needed to understand themselves and their behaviors, people are more inclined to pause and consider the consequences of their actions instead of impulsively making choices. 

Studies have also shown that CBT can benefit all offenders regardless of the severity of the crime: “[E]ven high-risk behavior did not reduce the therapy’s effectiveness. For example, some of the greatest effects were among more serious offenders. It may be that the therapy’s enabling, self-help approach is more effective in engaging typically resistant clients, that it increases their participation and therefore the benefits of participation.” 

Just as with all methods of treatment, cognitive behavior therapy should be utilized with additional evidence-based methods, including life skills coaching, education and other therapies to provide the best, well-rounded recovery program possible. 

Ready for therapy?

If you are seeking the benefits of cognitive behavioral therapy, contact Pyramid Healthcare in New Jersey today to get in touch with a therapist. Through personalized treatment programs and individualized care, you will find comfort and hope in your recovery plan. 

To get started, reach out by calling 888-694-9996 today to learn more.

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