An Overview of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) emerged in the 1960s as a type of therapy that combined Cognitive Therapy, developed by Aaron T. Beck, and Behavior Therapy, developed by Albert Ellis. Beck had initially focused on using it to treat people who experienced depression, as they often have negative automatic thoughts and beliefs about themselves, the world, and the future.
How it works
Making Connections: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
We know negative thoughts impact the development of symptoms of depression, low self-esteem, self-doubt, fears, anxiety, and worry, etc.
Today, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a widely recognized as an evidence-based treatment and extremely effective form of psychotherapy that helps individuals who struggle with depression, anxiety, grief and loss, chronic pain, substance abuse and problem gambling issues, eating disorders, self-esteem challenges, etc.
CBT focuses on identifying and understanding the connections between our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Overall, it aims to alter and alleviate negative or unhelpful patterns of thinking and problematic behaviors that affect depression, anxiety, compulsive behaviors, anger management, emotional regulation challenges, and more.
The Core Components of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
CBT is based on the idea that your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are interconnected. It recognizes that distorted or negative thinking patterns impact your emotional distress and frequency of unhelpful behaviors.
Cognitive Behavior Therapy focuses on identifying and changing the way you think about and interpret situations, focusing on your negative thought patterns and behaviors. By reframing your negative thinking patterns, you can rewire your brain to have more positive thoughts.
Therapy utilizing CBT techniques can help you identify and challenge your negative thoughts and beliefs, replacing them with more realistic and helpful ones.
You can learn how to become more aware of your automatic thoughts and cognitive distortions, such as: all-or-nothing thinking, overgeneralization, or catastrophizing. Once we help you identify your unhelpful thoughts, we would then examine the evidence for and against your negative thoughts, thus helping you clarify which ones are supportive as well as which one are unhelpful, inaccurate, and that you want to change.
CBT also focuses on behavior changes. You can learn to identify and alter unhelpful behaviors and develop healthier coping strategies. We will likely give you therapy homework that will reinforce what you are learning to create change.
Goals and Techniques of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Our therapists can use various CBT techniques to help you better manage your thoughts and emotions. They will focus on helping you identify your negative thought patterns and then teach you various skills through experiential exercises, psycho-education, behavioral homework, etc. to help you improve your overall functioning.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Techniques Used in CBT Counseling Sessions:
- Examining and challenging distorted thinking and using cognitive restructuring
- Facilitating gradual exposure exercises to feared situations and experiences
- Working through a functional analysis to understand why and how a behavior is created
- Following / playing through the unhelpful worry story script or fear until the end to evaluate and understand the core fear and worry
- Applying fact checking to worry, fears, beliefs, etc.
- Identifying the negative thoughts and beliefs of your inner critic
- Creating and reviewing thought records
- Utilizing various problem-solving methods
- Learning effective ways to enhance communication skills
- Establishing goal setting
- Challenging black and white and all-or-nothing thinking
- Developing breathing and bodily relaxation skills
The goal of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is to modify your thought patterns and improve behaviors, feelings, and overall well-being. With the help of a cognitive therapist, you can learn how to recognize distorted thinking (something we all experience) and develop more effective ways of responding to difficult situations. It will give you the opportunity to look at various perspectives that you may not have considered before.
During therapy, your CBT therapist will review your behaviors, thoughts, and feelings to determine if their patterns are unhelpful. You will learn to recognize and change your unhelpful thinking patterns by questioning their validity and challenging any cognitive distortions present.
After identifying a pattern that isn’t working for you, we would determine skills you can implement to change your future behaviors, thoughts, and feelings – thus eliminating unhelpful patterns.
Benefits of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
CBT helps you develop coping strategies and problem-solving skills to reduce the symptoms and emotional distress of the issues you struggle with.
Cognitive Therapy is a Type of Psychotherapy that can Help You to:
- Learn how your thoughts impact your emotions and actions
- Identify and challenge unhelpful thoughts, beliefs, and behaviors
- Understand and change your thought patterns to help you feel emotionally and physically better
- Develop healthy problem-solving skills
- Increase your understanding that your feelings are tolerable and that you can sit with, experience, and manage them
- Gain relief from your distressing symptoms
- Identify irrational thoughts and behaviors that support continued unhelpful and problematic behaviors which get in the way of your goals
Learning and practicing all of these actionable steps will help to improve your mood, lessen your anxiety, decrease your pain, and reduce your compulsive behaviors as well as improve many aspects of your life.
By using CBT, you can become better equipped to identify and challenge your unhelpful thoughts, beliefs, and behaviors. CBT can help you examine the underlying assumptions that drive your behavior and develop effective methods of responding to your stressors. Cognitive therapy changes the way you think and behave, enabling you to better manage stress, depression, anxiety, anger, and/or other distressing emotions.
Ultimately, cognitive behavioral therapy can help you gain control over your thoughts and behaviors, giving you a more positive view of life and leading to improved overall mental health. It is an incredibly effective form of psychotherapy that can help individuals improve coping skills and build healthier relationships.
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