Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a method of psychological treatment that focuses on the way thought patterns affect behavior. It can be short-term and problem-focused to correct an acute stressor, or it can be long-term treatment for more chronic challenges people have struggled with for years.
CBT is grounded in the belief that thought patterns and learned behavior affect psychological health in both healthy and unhealthy ways. These can be described as coping mechanisms, or strategies.
The most important aspect of CBT is the belief that people can break their negative thought cycles and behavioral patterns. This means that people have the power to positively affect their lives – they’re not powerless to their psychological challenges and they can overcome them with help, time, and practice.
While some people are skeptical, research and studies have shown that reframing thought processes and developing healthier coping skills can have a tangible impact on a person’s day to day life.
Thoughts are things. They become feelings, which lead to coping mechanisms and behavioral patterns. CBT is all about finding ways to change negative patterns, which can dramatically improve a person’s quality of life.
CBT has been shown to help people manage symptoms associated with many psychological disorders, including (but not limited to):
- Panic attacks
- Obsessive-compulsive disorders (OCD)
- Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Substance dependency
- Persistent pain
- Disordered eating
- Sexual issues
- Anger management issues
- Relationship issues
Each person’s journey with CBT looks a bit different – what works for one person may not work for another, and that’s perfectly normal. The patient and the therapist will work together to find solutions that fit best in each unique situation.
With CBT, you’ll work on identifying and then amending the thoughts that directly influence your emotions and behavior. This adjustment process is referred to as cognitive reconstructing, which can be achieved through various CBT techniques, such as:
- Challenging beliefs (facing your fears)
- Relaxation techniques
- Social, physical and thinking exercises (practice)
Cognitive behavioral therapy isn’t just about sitting on a comfortable couch and talking about whatever is running through your mind. While the structure of CBT sessions will vary, they’re designed to ensure that the therapist and the patient are focused on the main goals of the patient (i.e. managing anxiety, fighting depression, cutting back on substance dependency).
CBT is a style of therapy and can be applied in individual sessions, as well as relationship or couples counseling. Our individual thought patterns and behavior affect those we are closest to, and having negative cycles can impact the important relationships in our lives. Learning how to develop healthier thought patterns can lead to more effective communication strategies.
If you’re interested in learning more about how cognitive behavioral therapy can help improve your quality of life, please contact me today. I completed my CBT training with Dr. Beck – the pioneer of CBT – at the Beck Institute for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and feel very strongly that this style of therapy has the potential to change people’s lives for the better.
I would be happy to speak with you about your mental health concerns, as well as any hesitation you may have regarding therapy.