What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a common type of talk therapy that has been effective in treating a wide range of issues including depression, anxiety disorders, alcohol and drug use, marital problems, eating disorders and severe mental illness.
CBT focuses on the development of personal coping strategies and life skills to address current problems and challenge unhelpful cognitive patterns—thoughts, beliefs, and attitudes. What we think, how we feel and how we behave are all closely connected, and all of these factors have a decisive influence on our mental and emotional well-being.
CBT: A Look Under the Hood
CBT is based on several core principles, including:
- Psychological problems are based, in part, on faulty or unhelpful ways of thinking.
- Psychological problems are based, in part, on learned patterns of unhelpful behavior.
- People suffering from psychological problems can learn better ways of coping with them, thereby relieving their symptoms and becoming more effective in their lives.
CBT treatment usually involves efforts to change thinking patterns. These strategies might include:
- Learning to recognize one’s distortions in thinking that are creating problems, and then to reevaluate them in light of reality.
- Gaining a better understanding of the behavior and motivation of others.
- Using problem-solving skills to cope with difficult situations.
- Learning to develop a greater sense of confidence is one’s own abilities.
CBT treatment also usually involves efforts to change behavioral patterns. These strategies might include:
- Facing one’s fears instead of avoiding them.
- Using role playing to prepare for potentially problematic interactions with others.
- Learning to calm one’s mind and relax one’s body.
Not all CBT will employ all of these strategies. Each case is unique. Your doctor or therapist will work with you to assess your specific situation to develop a well-rounded understanding of the problem and to develop a specific treatment pattern. In most cases, CBT works best in correlation with other therapeutic approaches.
How CBT Works
Cognitive therapy helps you learn to replace faulty or distorted thought patterns with more realistic and less harmful thoughts.
Your therapist will help you identify negative or false thoughts and replace those thoughts with healthier, more realistic ones. For instance, you may feel worthless or you may obsess over your flaws and shortcomings. CBT will, first of all, make you aware that you have these thoughts. Then it will help you to exchange these thoughts with more positive thinking. A change in your attitude, then, will impact your behavior.
How is CBT Different from Other Psychotherapies?
CBT focuses on current problems and finding solutions for them. Unlike other psychotherapies which delve into the past, CBT is much more concerned with the present and future. The most important thing is helping people to help themselves; to be able to cope with their lives again without therapy as soon as possible.
This doesn’t mean that CBT completely ignores the influence of past events. But it mainly deals with identifying and changing current distressing thought and behavioral patterns moving forward.
When is CBT an Option?
Cognitive behavioral therapy is successful in treating conditions such as depression, anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorders, and addictions. CBT requires the client’s commitment and own initiative. Therapy can only be successful if you actively takes part in the treatment and also works on your problems between sessions. This can be a considerable challenge when you’re dealing with depression or anxiety disorder symptoms. Medication is sometimes used at first to quickly alleviate the worst symptoms to help you to focus.
This is a lot to process. We can help.
At Honey Lake Clinic, CBT is one of many therapeutic approaches our team of licensed and experienced medical and mental health professionals may incorporate as a part of an overall treatment program to help you find renewed health and happiness.