What is CBT used for?
Many times, we find ourselves caught up in the vicious cycle of negative thoughts. One nasty little thought can distort our entire worldview. We tend to look for patterns where there are none and draw conclusions that don’t exist. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) can bring you out of this vicious cycle by changing your thought patterns. CBT really works for a plethora of mental and emotional illnesses. It takes the edge off stress and improves the quality of life.
What is CBT?
Because the way we talk to ourselves in our heads also affects how we feel and what we do. You’re in charge!
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a form of talk therapy. It addresses how a person thinks and what they do in an attempt to change how they feel and function. It is a blend of two therapies, known as cognitive and behavioral. Its major premise is that thoughts drive feelings (or vice versa) that produce certain behaviors
Something happens to us and we use thoughts to interpret that event. In fact, automatic thoughts and beliefs happen as soon as the event occurs. This interpretation happens so fast usually outside of our awareness that we can’t even notice that happening. And finally, we react to those thoughts, feelings, and sensations through dysfunctional behaviors. Emotions, cognition, and behavior are very much interrelated and they all happen inside the brain. CBT breaks this cycle of emotions, cognition, and behavior.
People experience everything through the lens of their core beliefs. These beliefs affect the manner in which they view the world and that, it is their beliefs and construal of events that are, in fact, more important in the ultimate response to life’s events than the events themselves. All thoughts and feelings usually stem from core beliefs. Two people can react differently to the same event based on their core beliefs. One might believe, ” I’m worthy or I’m worthless”.
During CBT the therapist will try to help their clients identify their own core beliefs. For instance, “My core value as an individual depends on how others think of me”.
CBT is used to challenge these core beliefs and replaces them with the ones that are beneficial. This can be more challenging than it sounds. With this in mind, CBT therapists act as active support for the clients.
CBT eventually makes you your own therapist. You get to know how to be in charge of your thoughts and feelings. The only side effect is: you’ll feel good.
For lasting change, CBT therapists often work with the deeper levels of the client’s beliefs.
What is CBT used for?
CBT is thoroughly researched. It is found to be an effective treatment for all sorts of disorders. CBT all in all works for:
- Anti-social behaviors
- Low self-esteem
- Eating disorders
- Obsessive-Compulsive disorder (OCD)
- Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD)
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Somatization Disorders
- Health anxiety
- Personality disorders
- Bipolar disorder
- Relationship problems
- Chronic Pain
CBT can be an effective tool not only for people with mental disorders but to help anyone better manage stressful life situations. It is also particularly useful for mental health issues associated with a medical condition. It helps in coping up with a chronic illness or new diagnosis. CBT also works for managing chronic low back pain, fibromyalgia, and IBS.
CBT is generally considered a short-term therapy ranging from 12-20 sessions. However, the amount of time in therapy or the number of days a week can be set periodically. It can also be adjusted to meet the needs of the patient.
In CBT you will learn to :
- Distinguish between thoughts, feelings and sensations.
- Become aware of the ways in which thoughts and feelings can influence each other that sometimes are not helpful.
- Learn about automatic thoughts and how they can affect mood.
- Find out the core beliefs behind those thoughts and feelings.
- Evaluate automatic thoughts and core beliefs.
- Evaluate if the current behaviors are a good use of energy.
- .Develop skills to notice, interrupt and correct the baises.
- Learn to self-validate and be content
How does CBT Work?
CBT focuses on using the CBT triangle to influence behavior change. It is highly structured and goal-directed.
Chiefly, the CBT triangle is a bidirectional model. This model simply implies that each part of the triangle affects the other. The triangle represents thoughts, feelings, and body sensations.
For example, anxiety can make a person feel scared. As a result, they will have worried thoughts and obvious body sensations such as heart palpitations, sweaty palms, tension, etc. In fact, this experience as a whole is what we call anxiety.
Typically, there is a trigger to these thoughts, feelings, and physical sensations. To explain, a social gathering will trigger a person having social anxiety. The person will feel very worried and fearful. He or she will have very predictable thoughts such as people don’t like me, or I’m not going to be accepted in this circle, etc. And also he or she will have physical sensations such as tension. That internal state is going to create particular behavior such as avoiding or leaving social gatherings. So, he or she will use behavior to change triggers in order to improve their emotional state.
CBT works by targeting not only the triggers but by also looking at thoughts and feelings that are contributing to the behavior. It really looks into what’s going on in the internal state, on a deeper level. Although a common perception of CBT is that it implies that clients’ problems are “all in the head”. But,
CBT therapists recognize that their clients face real-world problems. And that problem solving must be an important part of helping clients.
Hence, CBT works in terms of both the particular situation that clients face and general ways of approaching their lives. CBT therapists recognize that some of the distress that clients face is a result of particular patterns of thinking. And some results from beliefs that clients hold about themselves and the world.
CBT is generally an educational process. The client will develop a series of insights, and strategies that he or she can apply in the future if problems recur. Hence, skill acquisition and homework assignments are what set CBT apart from “talk therapies.
It allows focused treatment and helps clients monitor progress. Your therapist helps you to draw up a list of goals you wish to achieve from therapy. In particular, the goals must be specific and realistic. Hence, you and your therapist mutually agree upon therapy goals.
Typically, unhelpful automatic thoughts are the first targets in the cognitive component of CBT. This technique challenges thinking errors. You also get to know the relationship between what you do and how you feel. If you can understand and modify your thoughts and behaviors there’s a good chance that you will feel better.
It is equally important to focus on things patients can do now to change. In essence, this technique implies positive behaviors to improve mood. The goal is to introduce behaviors that will help bring change in the patient’s life. For depressed persons, increasing their activities daily improves mood and decreases symptoms of depression.
Exposure exercises require that a patient faces anxiety and fear rather than avoiding it. These exercises are commonly used to treat anxiety and phobias.
Problem solving strategies:
These techniques generally identifies effective means of coping with problems of everyday living. These strategies can help with a wide range of problems. They can be used for depression, anxiety, anger, and aggression, addiction, coping with illness, and relationship problems.
The goal is to learn specific relaxation skills such as muscle relaxation, breathing retraining, and imagery. Thus, relaxation consists of a collection of techniques designed to reduce tension, stress, and worry.
Homework is an essential component of CBT. You will be expected to actively participate in your own therapy. For example, your therapist can ask you to keep a thought record or a journal. You may also be assigned between-session homework. Thus, CBT works in a collaborative way.
How CBT Works for Depression and Anxiety?
CBT is a great option if you are struggling with depression or anxiety. A depressed person is usually negative towards self, future, and present. When we are depressed we tend to become less active, more lethargic and have a harder time get going. We become overly negative, self-critical, and hopeless about the future. CBT tends to break this negative triad in which a person is in. During CBT you learn to identify, evaluate and alter negative thoughts. As a result, you are able to see more clearly and feel less depressed.
When we are anxious we tend to overperceive danger and vulnerability. We will have terrible thoughts about the future. Hence, when we are depressed or anxious our mind distorts what we see. CBT usually works by using certain behavioral and exposure therapy to reduce anxiety.
Is it Effective?
CBT is the most widely studied form of talk therapy. It has strong scientific support for treating mood, sleep, chronic pain, and anxiety disorders.
CBT is recognized as an evidence-based treatment for a vast array of disorders, from organizations as wide-ranging as:
1. The American Psychiatric Association
2.The Australian Psychological Association
3. The British National Institute for Clinical Excellence
Many research studies show that CBT leads to significant improvement in functioning and quality of life. It is considered to be the golden standard of therapies in the field.
A meta-analysis of many studies proposes that CBT helps to reduce depressive symptoms. There was a decrease in dysfunctional attitudes following CBT. Additionally, brain scans indicate that the activity in the amygdala resumed to normal after receiving CBT treatment. This suggests that CBT improves emotional regulation. It does affect the brain, its function, and structure such as in cognitive and memory areas. It improves cognitive control and mood.
Likewise, a meta-analysis of 41 studies found that CBT helped to reduce symptoms in anxiety disorders such as PTSD and OCD.
Who Provides CBT?
You can get CBT from a psychologist, licensed counselor, or psychiatrist with training and experience in CBT. Sessions can be one-on-one, in groups, or online.
It is important to have a warm, supporting, and trusting relationship with your therapist. You can also switch your therapist if you feel uncomfortable or if there are no improvements in your symptoms.
A Word of Farewell:
In a word thoughts, feelings, and sensations impact behaviors. They can in turn affect thoughts. These negative beliefs occur based on your faulty and inaccurate understanding. With CBT you can identify the thoughts and beliefs that are maintaining unhappiness and can choose to change them.
By and large, it is not the event but the meaning you assign to it. It’s your own subjective experience of victimhood that can steal your joy. When this victim story plays over and over in your head, it brings a lot of suffering and misery into your life. Once you are in a dark place, you can only pull yourself out of it by learning to think and feel in a new way. You cannot solve the problem with the same consciousness that created it. In that case, CBT is the only treatment with a favorable prognosis.
The wounded ,mind must be reset like a fractured bone. It cannot heal itself without realignment.~Anthon St. Maarten
It’s important to know that you don’t have to live this vicious cycle forever. Treatment can help, and for many mental and physical problems, CBT is often the most effective option. It is a practical, powerful, and proven treatment that allows many people to make durable and positive changes in their lives. Remember that:
The shift to healing and joy is the most courageous shift we can make.
Contact our friendly team to book an appointment with one of our clinicians if CBT sounds like something that might help you.
You can reach our friendly support team via webchat, phone, or email. You will need a referral (Mental Health Care Plan) from your GP to see one of our psychologists.