Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
“Life would be so much easier if I didn’t think this way.”
If you’ve ever found yourself struggling to control your thoughts, you’re in good company. Many people at one point or another will experience intrusive thoughts, ones that they struggle to control or understand. Fortunately, there are techniques and practices that many people find helpful in managing, and even changing these thoughts. Oftentimes, this can help them, in turn, feel better and change behaviors they’re unhappy with. So how does this work? For years Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) has been used to help people manage several types of challenges in psychotherapy.
What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and how does it work?
The theory of CBT first started to gain traction in the early 1960s and has been studied since. There are over 2,000 studies that have found CBT to be an effective way to help treat a number of mental health concerns. So, what exactly is CBT? Simply put, the theory behind CBT believes that people make changes in their lives through three main factors: how they think, how they behave, and how they feel including emotions and bodily sensations. Essentially, if someone can reflect on their thoughts and how these affect their life, they can make changes in what they do in response to these thoughts. When our thoughts and behavioral responses change, often time we see a change in how we’re feeling.
What is CBT useful in treating?
Standard CBT is most often used to treat common mental health issues such as anxiety disorders, depression, trauma, substance use, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and relationship issues.
Today, there are many branches that all stem from this original theory. Many of these modalities have been developed using components of CBT that have been modified to help treat other mental health concerns. For example, Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) which is used to treat borderline personality disorder is also considered to be a type of CBT. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy – Enhanced (CBT-E) is well known for helping treat eating disorders.
Many therapists who use CBT appreciate its versatility and ability to be adapted for many different mental health concerns.
So, what might the course of therapy look like?
For example, let’s say you are struggling to get a job, despite landing several interviews. After using CBT techniques with your therapist, together you discover that you have had thoughts about not being worthy of having a job. Continuing down this course, we determine that these thoughts have an impact on how you act, you remember several times you’ve said something self-deprecating in an interview. Together with your therapist using CBT you process your beliefs around your sense of worthiness, and how this connects with the thoughts and ineffective behaviors you have been experiencing. You might then work together to make changes in each of these areas until a more realistic belief is held. Soon enough, your thoughts and actions begin to reflect that change you’ve made. In turn, you notice yourself start to feel less negatively about yourself and your situation. The hope is that now when you go out for your next interview or two, self-defeating actions and beliefs will be a thing of the past and you can move forward successfully.
While this all sounds very simple, often we are so caught up in our own beliefs and thoughts that they feel like absolute truths. When something is held as a truth, rather than a faulty belief that can make it very challenging to change on our own. Sometimes it can take outside perspective, learning new skills, and new techniques to help us make progress toward our goals.
Many of our clinicians have been trained in CBT and utilize it in session, along with several other evidence-based strategies.