What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or CBT?

Cognitive-behavioral therapy is an evidence-based form of psychotherapy, or more commonly referred to as ‘talk-therapy.’ Psychotherapy or talk therapy is an umbrella term for a variety of different types of therapeutic modalities, which CBT falls under. Cognitive-behavioral therapy focuses on one’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors and the reciprocal relationship between the three. Meaning your thoughts impact your behaviors and feelings, your behaviors impact your thoughts and feelings, and your feelings impact your behaviors and thoughts. Therefore working on altering one will result in altering another. CBT’s aim is to help individuals gain insight into their maladaptive thinking patterns and behaviors in order to make actionable changes in their life. CBT has been proven to be effective for treating a variety of different mental health concerns from anxiety, and depression to eating disorders, OCD, post traumatic stress disorder and more.

CBT is a short-term, problem-focused, goal-oriented therapy that requires the individual to actively practice skills outside of therapy in order to see changes in thinking patterns, behaviors, and reductions in symptoms. Compared to other talk therapies, CBT focuses on the present and resolving the issues affecting your day to day life today, as well as identifying and altering current thoughts and behaviors.

Below are CBT techniques that a trained therapist will work with you on.

Treatment Goals

When you begin CBT the therapist will ask you to identify some areas in your life that you would like to see changes. The aim of these goals are to improve your life in some way. This can be a reduction in symptoms, improving your productivity at work or grades in school, increasing your social circle, or anything else you wish to see a change. However, reaching these goals will only happen if you practice and take action outside of your weekly therapy session. Treatment goals are based on each individual person’s needs at the time and can be altered at any time even if you do not reach the goal.

Identifying Negative Thoughts

Identifying how negative thoughts affect your feelings and behaviors can you help you alter these thoughts with more positive ones to change your feelings and behaviors. For instance, if you’re struggling with social anxiety you may have the thought or something similar to “nobody likes me.” As a result, you avoid social situations and isolate yourself from your peers. In order to determine these negative thoughts, the therapist will give you worksheets or activities to practice between sessions to help identify these thinking patterns.

Identifying Schemas or Core-Beliefs

Schemas or core beliefs are these beliefs we have about ourselves and the told that began in childhood and effect our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. For instance, if as a child your parents always treated you as a child and never gave you autonomy you may believe that you’re “incompetent” as a result you may not go for a high-achieving job because you don’t believe you’re capable of it.

Self-monitoring

Self-monitoring is a core concept in CBT. This involves tracking your thoughts feelings and behaviors in order to identify the patterns in your life that are harmful to you. For instance, if you’re struggling with an eating disorder, the therapist might ask you to keep track of your feelings and thoughts that happen before, during, and after the binge-eating episode.

Learning and Utilizing New Coping Skills

During treatment, as you begin to identify maladaptive thinking patterns and destructive behaviors, the therapist will give you coping skills to practice outside of therapy to reach your treatment goals. Some CBT coping skills include behavioral activation, relaxation exercises, thought-record form, pros and cons, and more. In order for these coping skills to work they require practice in real-life situations. The more you practice these skills the easier it will be to use them and the more automatic they will become.

Problem-solving Skills

Altering thinking patterns and behaviors to more positive ones will increase your overall well being making it easier to face daily challenges and life stressors. CBT has five problem-solving skills. The first is to determine what the problem is. Second is coming up with a list of solutions to solve the problem. Third, determine what the pros and cons are for each solution. Fourth is to choose the solution that you think will be most effective in resolving the problem while taking into consideration the facts and your feelings about the problem. Last, is to put the solution into action and resolve the problem.

If you’re interested in CBT therapy, don’t hesitate to contact NG Mental Health Counseling and schedule a free 15 minute phone consultation!