By Stephanie Camins – MA, LPC
Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) emphasizes the interaction between thoughts, behaviors and feelings. Given any event, you can choose to think in positive or negative ways. A negative, destructive thought about the event will lead to a response which is reactionary, impulsive, and maladaptive. As a result, negative emotional states such as anger, anxiety, and frustration arise. When you respond to the same event with positive or neutral thoughts or beliefs, you tend to react in a more proactive, solution focused manner and experience empowering, uplifting feelings.
What is the Goal of CBT?
The goal of CBT is to help develop constructive ways of thinking that will produce healthier behaviors and beliefs. CBT has strong empirical support and is the most widely used evidence-based practice for improving mental health. Studies have documented changes in brain activity, suggesting that this therapy actually improves your brain functioning as well.
CBT is a goal-oriented treatment method. It is “present focused” in its aim to change patterns of thinking (or core beliefs) and the emotions clients feel when being faced with distress or anxiety. CBT suggests that emotions, thoughts, and behaviors all influence one another in powerful ways. It is used to treat patients who have distorted thoughts that are unhelpful and irrational. These thoughts don’t make sense and there is no evidence that they are true yet they are automatic and feel uncontrollable. Some examples include, “I’m not good enough, I’m unlovable, I have to be perfect, It’s all my fault, I’m a failure, etc.” CBT will help to identify inaccurate or negative thinking so you can view challenging situations more clearly and respond to them in a more effective way.
CBT Can be Used to Treat Many Problems Such As:
- Anxiety disorders
- Sleep disorders
- Low self-esteem
- Better manage stressful life situations.
CBT is most often a 16-week treatment plan which can quickly help you identify and cope with specific challenges. Skills focus on changing 1. thoughts and 2. behaviors. Once these two things have improved your emotions will shift.
- Identify the 10 thought distortions
- Learn strategies to restructure these distorted thought patterns
- Replace negative thoughts with more realistic thoughts
- Quiet your inner critic
- Goal setting
CBT will help you to manage many distressful life events from managing symptoms of mental illness to coping with stressful life situations.