Working with cognitive dissonance as a therapist

Maybe they do not make much sense to you or other people, but everyone is different. However, there are fortunate individuals who see how their substance abuse is causing not only destruction in their lives but also with those who love them. They hold onto the belief that they will see better days and that recovery is needed to change their life. At Granite Mountain Behavioral Healthcare, our team aims to help our clients with addiction and mental illness recover.

Co-occurring disorders (addiction and substance disorder coinciding) can be managed with dual diagnosis treatment. Cognitive dissonance can happen to anyone, and most cases resolve on their own. However, there are therapy options for people whose cognitive dissonance is severely affecting their relationships or the ability to live their lives. Anyone can experience this uneasiness when their feelings don’t align with their actions, says Rachelle Scott, M.D., a psychiatrist and ​​medical director of Mental Health at Eden Health in New York. Dissonance comes up when we realize there are two things opposing each other,” she explains. Cognitive dissonance is a term for the state of discomfort felt when two or more modes of thought contradict each other.

What Is Cognitive Dissonance?

Finally, many of the studies supporting the theory of cognitive dissonance have low ecological validity. For example, turning pegs (as in Festinger’s experiment) is an artificial task that doesn’t happen in everyday life. Cognitive dissonance refers to a situation involving conflicting attitudes, beliefs, or behaviors.

  • Theoretically, dissonance may contribute to a variety of changes in behavior or beliefs.
  • After all, behaving against one’s wishes and intentions violates a fundamental human need to see oneself as a rational and consistent person.
  • Understanding your beliefs and values behind the inconsistencies is an opportunity to develop deeper self-knowledge.

The resultant discomfort generates a change in one of the behaviours, beliefs or attitudes, in order to alleviate discomfort and restore balance. As individuals, we develop many thoughts and beliefs about ourselves and the world around us. These cognitions can become conflicting and this clash causes sufficient unpleasant tension so as to motivate us to change things (to reduce or eliminate), and to create balance. When cognitive dissonance treatment there are conflicts between cognitions (thoughts, beliefs, opinions), people will take steps to reduce the dissonance and feelings of discomfort. This is what addiction specialists at Granite Mountain specialize in. Mismatches between your beliefs and actions can lead to feelings of discomfort (and, sometimes, coping choices that have negative impacts), but such feelings can also sometimes lead to change and growth.

Acquire new information that outweighs the dissonant beliefs.

The original book by Leon Festinger is a staple on every (social) psychologist’s bookshelf. Sometimes the dissonant information appears to be important at first sight but can be diminished upon deeper reflection. Before you continue, we thought you might like to download our three Positive CBT Exercises for free. These science-based exercises will provide you with detailed insight into Positive CBT and give you the tools to apply it in your therapy or coaching. Cognitive dissonance is powerful because we are highly driven to eliminate it.

By reducing the risk of smoking, one will have less difficulty in smoking and not feel bad about it. While smokers are not craving, the shift in balance between benefit and negative consequences will motivate smokers to quit. That is, now the negatives (including guilt and shame) dominate the decision, and the lapsed smoker wonders how such a mistake was made. Without recognizing the powerful shifts in thinking while craving, the smoker may conclude that the relapse reflects a lack of willpower or self-confidence.

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