CBT-Translated 12 Steps
A Secular and Empowering Addition Treatment Method

What is the CBT-Translated 12 Steps?​

Though you have probably heard of the 12 Step programme, you might be less familiar with some effective and innovative variations of it. The CBT-translated 12 Steps is a secular integration of the original 12 Step curriculum with the evidence-based clinic system of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). The two modalities share many similarities, most essentially the ability to help you change negative emotions, behaviours, or thoughts through specific, goal-oriented exercises.

The 12 Step programme was initially made popular through its use in Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), a group among the first to recognise addiction as a disease. The programme was based on the idea that the person in recovery would accept a higher power, and then relinquish control to that higher power in order to overcome an addiction via a 12-step process. The programme is widely considered to be successful in treating addiction, with some studies showing that participants are 2.8 times more likely to maintain sobriety.

With the CBT-translated 12 Steps, the focus of the steps is not about giving up control to a higher power, but instead is centered on your own personal empowerment, where you take control of your own life. Similar to the original 12 Step programme, the ultimate goals of the CBT-translated 12 Steps are to enable people to identify their problems and the root causes of those issues, and to change problematic thought patterns and behaviours so that they can recover from addiction.

How Does a CBT-Translated 12 Step Programme Work?

The CBT-translated 12 Steps pair key processes in cognitive behavioural therapy with the basic elements of the 12 Steps. The CBT-translated 12 Steps highlights the positive aspects of each method, including CBT’s mindful modification of negative thoughts and actions, and the 12 Steps’ approach to letting go and accepting help.


The first three steps of the 12 Step programme focus on admitting a problem exists, reaching out for help, and surrendering control to a higher power. In CBT, this process occurs when a person identifies a problem and begins a positive exchange with a therapist. In the CBT-translated 12 Steps, a therapist will guide you through the process of defining the causes of your problem, but also help you to develop skills to deal with the problem on your own.


Step 4 of the 12 Step programme involves taking an inventory of problematic ideas, thoughts, and behaviours. In the CBT-translated 12 Steps, people will make similar lists, noting what needs to be changed and setting personal goals in order to achieve recovery and a greater quality of life.


Like Steps 5-7, CBT encourages open and honest communication in order to receive guidance on how to overcome a dependency. While the 12 Step programme encourages communication with a higher power, CBT-translated 12 Steps offers this connection through a trusted therapist, but also recommends building relationships with supportive family and friends.


In order for those in recovery to move forward, they must confront and process what has happened in the past. This includes reflecting on mistakes made and people hurt during a struggle with addiction. Steps 8-10 of the 12 Step programme focus on identifying these mistakes, making amends whenever possible, and addressing new mistakes honestly and immediately. The CBT-translated 12 Steps guides you through a similar process, using behaviour assignments and a journal to encourage continued personal growth and reflection.


The final steps of the 12 Step programme focus on maintaining a relationship with a higher power and sharing the success of recovery with others. In the final two steps of the CBT-translated 12 Steps, you will develop new coping skills and healthy habits that empower you to continue your journey of recovery. Sharing your experiences in group sessions, or privately with others who may also be struggling, is often helpful in strengthening your recovery and encouraging others to reach out for help.


Key Benefits of CBT-Translated 12 Steps

For those curious about the 12 Step programme, but interested in a somewhat different approach, the CBT-translated 12 Steps offers many potential benefits including:

  • Recovery from addiction
  • Relief of stress and anxiety
  • Adoption of a more positive outlook
  • Increased confidence and self-esteem
  • Greater awareness and control of your thoughts and how they affect you

How Successful is CBT-Translated 12 Steps?

Numerous studies agree that the 12 Step programme is a highly effective model in treating addiction, recognising the value of psychosocial modalities in changing problematic thoughts and habits. The success rates are proven through the widespread use of the 12 Step programme around the world by groups ranging from Alcoholics Anonymous, to Narcotics Anonymous, Overeaters Anonymous, Sex Addicts Anonymous, Gamblers Anonymous, and more.

Cognitive behavioural therapy has similar rates of success in helping people achieve recovery by strengthening neural connections that foster positive thinking and behaviour. Both popular and effective, CBT has been endorsed by leading health organisations such as the World Health Organisation, the National Institute of Mental Health, and national psychiatric and psychological associations in the UK, US, Canada, and Australia.

Participating in a combination of these two techniques in the CBT Translated 12 Steps offers people the benefits of both methodologies and an increased potential for a successful recovery.

CBT Translated 12 Steps at The Dawn Rehab in Thailand

At The Dawn Thailand drug rehab center, the clear rationale and universal nature of the CBT-translated 12 Steps is well suited for our multi-cultural and multi-generational clientele. CBT-Translated 12 Steps is used alongside other therapies such as mindfulness meditation, fitness training, and attending weekly off-site 12 Step meetings weekly to ensure holistic healing, promote positive coping techniques, and prevent relapse.

If you are ready to overcome your addiction, contact us today to learn how The Dawn can help you start a journey to a full, healthy recovery.


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