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CBT: What Is It and What Does It Help With?

CBT, or cognitive behavioral therapy, is a form of talk therapy. It focuses more on the present time and less on the past events. Certain factors may play a role in the process, but the here and now are more important where your emotions and behaviors are concerned. 

Core Concepts of CBT

CBT revolves around the idea that thoughts, emotions, and actions are linked together. What you think about something can affect how you feel. How you feel about something has an impact on what you do or how you respond.

When you’re stressed, for example, it can cause you to feel a certain way about a situation compared to when you’re more relaxed. Thus, there can be two very different outcomes for the same situation. 

The three main concepts of CBT include psychological issues stemming from unhelpful ways of thinking, psychological issues result from learned behavior patterns, and anyone living with psychological issues can change with proper management and coping mechanisms. 

CBT Techniques

CBT is a bit of a broad category and encompasses different techniques. What works for you may not work for your friend and vice versa. Treatment techniques will include recognizing ineffective thought patterns, learning new problem-solving skills, gaining a better understanding of self-worth, facing your fears, and incorporating calming techniques. 

By using these techniques, you will hopefully be able to replace self-doubt and negative thoughts with more optimistic and encouraging ones. 

Widely used treatment techniques include:

  • SMART goals – establishing specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-sensitive goals
  • Guided discovery – learning how to challenge currently held assumptions and replacing them with differing viewpoints
  • Journaling – writing any negative thoughts that come up throughout the day
  • Self-Talk – learning to replace negative or critical thinking with more constructive thoughts
  • Cognitive restructuring – evaluating distorted thought patterns like black-and-white thinking, conclusion jumping, or catastrophizing
  • Positive activity – participating in any type of rewarding activity to improve your mood

No matter your technique, homework assignments will be a part of the process. That is to say, what you learn and use in therapy will need to be applied in real time outside of the therapist’s office. 

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How it Works

CBT provides a safe and supportive space to open up and express your feelings or feelings. The therapist you’re working with is trained to guide you through different treatment techniques and learn how to overcome challenges. 

Results with CBT aren’t going to be immediate. It is expected to take up to 20 sessions but could be as few as five. You will need to be open to getting vulnerable and work with your therapist to reach your desired goals.

Your therapist will discuss any challenges you’re facing or concerns you have. Furthermore, they will ask you questions to gain more insight into your typical response and behavior patterns. Through open discussion, they will help you recognize problems with your beliefs or any unhealthy emotions. This is where journaling can be helpful. 

Throughout your sessions, you will work together to modify your thoughts and behaviors to be more effective and productive. 

Under the CBT Umbrella

Just as different techniques can be used, there are also different forms that fall under the CBT umbrella. These include exposure therapy, dialectical behavior therapy, acceptance and commitment therapy, mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, and rational emotive behavior therapy.

What CBT Helps With

CBT is a great tool for managing mental health conditions, including depression, anxiety disorders, PTSD, and schizophrenia. It is also beneficial with eating disorders, substance abuse issues, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. 

Even if you aren’t experiencing a mental health condition, there are additional benefits to CBT use. For instance, it can help with relationship struggles, low self-esteem, grief, insomnia, chronic pain, medical diagnoses, and life stressors.

CBT is very well researched and studies have shown CBT to be very effective whether you’re experiencing mental health issues or something else. To learn more about CBT and its benefits, contact us today. 

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