How cognitive behavioral therapy works
Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a type of talk therapy that takes a hands-on approach to problem-solving. It helps patients get a different view of thoughts that influence their behaviors.
CBT can treat a wide range of disorders like depression, phobias, addiction, and post-traumatic stress disorder. During the treatment, a patient should change the disturbing patterns that trigger negative emotions. Unlike other types of therapies, CBT is short – it takes 5-10 months for most emotional problems.
The basics of CBT
Cognitive-behavioral therapy is based on scientific research and there’s ample evidence that it does work. The underlying concept of this type of therapy is that feelings affect the way we do things. It teaches individuals that no matter the type of world they live in, they can’t control what happens in the world around them.
Importance of the negative thoughts
Cognitive-behavioral therapy states that it’s not the events around us that trigger the negative thinking but the meaning that we give to them. What does this mean? If your thoughts are negative, you’ll keep holding to the same old things.
The goal of CBT is to change the negative thinking that contributes to anxiety and depression. Patients are encouraged to look at reality from a different perspective. When they become aware of the unrealistic thoughts, they can engage in a healthier thinking pattern.
Types of CBT
Cognitive-behavioral therapy borrows from the same principles used in human emotion behavior. It can be thought of as a combination of behavioral therapy and psychotherapy. Here are the various approaches used by therapists.
Dialectical behavior therapy
This type of therapy addresses the thinking pattern of individuals and uses strategies like emotional thinking. This approach recognizes that people are prone to thinking out of the ordinary and react in a specific manner during certain situations. Unfortunately, most people don’t know how to react to sudden surges of emotion.
Dialectical behavior therapy teaches us how to live the moment, regulate emotions, and cope with stress. A therapist will use this approach if you’re struggling with self-destruction behavior and emotional regulation. DBH uses three strategies: core mindfulness, distress tolerance, and interpersonal effectiveness.
This type of therapy identifies negative thinking patterns, behaviors, and responses. It emphasizes how we think and how this affects us emotionally. More specifically, it incorporates communication and present thinking to solve problems.
Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy
This approach identifies the irrational beliefs and challenges then to change the thought patterns. The most common irrational beliefs can include:
- Believing that you’re successful in everything you do
- Being upset because of other people’s mistake
- Thinking that you can’t control your happiness
- Believing that you’d be happy if you avoid life challenges
Once the underlying challenges are identified, a therapist will help you challenge them. While REBT can be a daunting process, it gives insight into the irrational patterns. A therapist works together with the patient to target the emotional responses.
This approach suggests that psychological issues can be addressed in different modalities including sensation, behavior, cognition, and interpersonal factors. Each of these modalities can be used to achieve a holistic understanding of the social environment of the patient.
Because CBT strives to change the thinking pattern, it recognizes the thinking that could be creating problems. Furthermore, it gives a better understanding of behavior and the skills to use to cope with the current problems.
What does cognitive behavior therapy entail?
Let’s face it: we all experience thoughts and emotions that can affect the various aspects of our lives like a relationship, family, school, and work. For instance, if you have a negative thought about how you look like, this can affect your self-esteem. Even worse, it could affect the relationship you have with your friends.
To get rid of the destructive thoughts, a CBT therapist can help you identify the problematic beliefs. The first stage is the functional analysis. This is where you learn that feelings and thoughts can contribute to bad behaviors. While the process of self-discovery can be difficult, it’s an essential part of healing.
After that, a therapist will dwell on negative behaviors. This is where you learn new skills and apply them in real life. For instance, if you’re suffering from drug addiction or alcohol abuse, you can use strategies that can help you deal with social situations.
The final step is to start talking to friends, family members, and acquaintances. Now you can start working on your goals. The process of CBT therapy can be summarized as follows:
- A CBT therapist takes an active role
- The therapist works with the client to achieve the established goals
- A therapist explains the process gives homework in between the sessions
Where can you use cognitive behavioral therapy?
CBT can be used in a wide range of disciplines including:
- Anxiety and depression
- Eating disorders
- Drug and alcohol addiction
CBT focuses on specific goals that can be measured easily. It’s more suited to patients who want a more structured approach and will often take a structured role. For CBT to be effective, an individual must be ready to analyze his or her thoughts as well as emotions. But what makes this therapeutic approach unique is the fact that it’s short-term. Of course, the skills you develop from a therapist can be used now and in the future.
How CBT is used in couples counseling
Cognitive-behavioral therapy for a couple is based on the same principles of individuals. There are bound to be problems in marriages – one could be career-oriented while the other could be fun-oriented. A therapist can help you change the unhelpful patterns. But it’s not just about what you think or feel. This is an opportunity to discover what you want and the changes you can make.
Criticisms of CBT
This form of therapy uses negative thoughts- irrational beliefs and biased cognitions that are interchangeable. Research has shown that the client’s reports are quite inaccurate. If you engaged in something that left scars in your life, you may be told to use cognitive restructuring exercises. In reality, they don’t deal with the true problem. Thirdly, the self-evaluations can be maladaptive. Because CBT is all about confronting your fears and emotions, you may experience situations where your emotions are uncontrollable.
Some critics argue that this model doesn’t address the underlying mental problems and doesn’t have a significant impact on an individual’s wellbeing.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is an effective psychological treatment for a wide range of conditions. If you believe you need this type of therapy, you should consult the National Association of Cognitive Behavioral Therapists directory and locate a professional near you.