Emotional Reframing for Addiction Recovery
In many scenarios, addiction and substance abuse disorders can stem from mental health and cognitive behavioral issues. Even in instances where these factors are not a catalyst for abuse, the trauma from addiction can lead to devastating emotional and cognitive disorders. For a sustainable recovery and sobriety emotional reframing is a key element.
The trauma many experience in their addiction journey can leave you filled with negative thoughts. They can also give a sense of being stuck and hopeless. Emotional reframing is a therapeutic technique that can be utilized to change one’s mindset. Often referred to as cognitive reframing, this practice teaches a person how to look at situations, people and even relationships from various points of view in order to gain a more clear, accurate and positive understanding. This tool can be extremely powerful in recovery. It can be utilized at any time or any place, not just in a therapist’s office.
What is Emotional or Cognitive Reframing?
Everyone has a unique perspective from which they view themselves, situations and the world around them. Their perspective has been formed through each person’s individual experiences and often, traumas. The frame in which you perceive the world, determines your point of view. However, this perspective or frame does always support a healthy understanding. In many instances of trauma or substance abuse, disordered thinking and negative thought patterns can infiltrate the mind and hold captive our thoughts, preventing a healthy and long lasting recovery.
In emotional reframing, you taught how to change the way you frame or perceive situations and relationships. You can think of it as putting on a pair of sunglasses on a bright and sunny day. Before wearing them, you might see things not as they truly are. This is due to the brightness of the sun that hinders your ability to see clearly. Once you put on your sunglasses, or reframe your thinking, it is easier to see the world in a different, more accurate light. Similarly as in the sunglasses example, emotional reframing does not inherently change the scenario. However, it allows you to see it from a new perspective.
How Can Emotional Reframing be Utilized?
Emotional reframing can be used to identify, challenge and change the way you think, feel and behave. In a family therapy setting, a therapist can suggest alternative ways one can interpret a family member’s action. Perhaps due to a past trauma or circumstance, you are framing your family members actions to be overbearing, aggressive or manipulative. Yet with the guidance of a therapist and a simple perspective shift, you can see that their actions were based out of love, compassion and care.
In an individual therapy session, emotional reframing can be utilized to realign the way you see and understand yourself and your own actions. A therapist can help lead you to look at life more holistically and consider an alternative point of view. For example, in a substance abuse disorder scenario, an individual may see their addiction as a result solely of their lack of willpower or fault in character. However, with a reframing, they can come to see their addiction as a coping mechanism for generational trauma and abuse.
Therapists are trained to teach participants to ask themselves questions that can open your eyes. They train to see not only negative aspects of scenarios, but positive ones as well. Some questions could include, “What could be some benefits of XYZ not happening the way you wanted?” or “How could this negative outcome or set back actually help you on your road to recovery and sobriety?”
What Can Cognitive Reframing Help With?
This practice can be applied to many different struggles in life, including disordered eating, addiction, anxiety, pain, sleep, stress and depression. People who are dealing with loss, low self esteem and relational issues can also utilize emotional reframing to find healing. It is also a wonderful tool for those who are supporting and offering care for others. To benefit from emotional reframing, you do not need to be facing a crisis, the technique can offer many benefits in all arenas of life.
What are Some Benefits Emotional Reframing Can Offer?
After much practice and training, emotional reframing can be utilized in your day to day life. It ultimately extends the assistance of a therapist. This is an extremely helpful tool to have in not only the recovery process, but in your general life as it leads to a more compassionate understanding of the world. In practice, therapists often utilize a tool that asks “what would you say to a friend in this scenario?” When struggling with negative self-talk, it’s helpful to combat it with this approach. People often show more compassion and understanding towards others than they do themselves.
Emotional reframing can help you change your point of view on a whole host of different scenarios. You can go from only having negative thoughts and viewing setbacks as disastrous problems to seeing them as opportunities for growth and improvements. It can teach you that your perception is only one of many possible points of view.
Through emotional reframing, you can learn to acknowledge and validate your emotions, thoughts and feelings, while recognizing they might not always be truthful. It is important to validate all emotions rather than ignoring them. Emotional reframing can help you name emotions, recognize them and ask if they are helpful in guiding you to a place you want to go. They can also be reframed and considered from other angles.
Is Cognitive Reframing Effective?
Many studies show that employing emotional reframing as a therapeutic tool not only benefits the patient, but providers and caregivers as well. It supports them as they deal with difficult situations daily and helping prevent burn out. For those learning emotional reframing as a technique in therapeutic situations, some studies have shown a decrease in symptoms and a greater ability to function.
Would You Benefit From Emotional Reframing?
If you find your thought patterns overwhelmingly negative, or you are dwelling on the worst case scenario unable to shift from a negative focus to a positive outlook, you might benefit from learning how to reframe your thoughts and feelings. If this is the case, your first step would be to ask your doctor for a referral for a therapist. May insurances cover therapists, so in weighing your options, consider if the cost is covered by your insurance. Understand that this is a step towards emotional and mental well being that may be painful. However, it ultimately opens up a new life and perspective of the world.
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