CBT is an effective type of psychotherapy that helps people change their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors to manage mental health problems. Cognitive-behavioral therapy aims to help individuals with their mental health by teaching them how to identify and change negative thoughts into more realistic ones, leading to a better mood and improved behavior. In addition, learning what cognitive-behavioral therapy is all about can help you understand yourself or others around you who may need support from time to time.
How does it work?
Talk to any young adult about how they feel, and the first words out of their mouth will probably be “I’m stressed” or “I’m anxious.” CBT can help people relieve stress, anxiety, and depression. This form of treatment integrates behavioral and cognitive approaches to therapy.
The diagnosis that a clinician formulates is specific to the mental disorder of the patient. It means a person’s mental illness determines whether the clinician will use more cognitive-oriented strategies, like changing thought patterns or using behavioral approaches, such as social skills training for anxiety patients, or use both together.
Common treatment strategies or techniques used in CBT
During psychotherapy sessions, the patient and psychologist work together to develop a plan for successful treatment. Remember, the goal of this therapy is to help individuals learn how to become their own therapists. Here are some of the strategies used to help patients learn coping skills.
- Identifying destructive or unhelpful thoughts. An example of a negative thought like “I’m not good enough,” could be replaced with “I am more than capable, and I will do well.” The process of acknowledging positive beliefs helps to balance any negativity in life.
- Learning new skills. For example, people with substance use disorders are often driven by the desire to escape their problems. Spending time doing new things can be an excellent way of occupying oneself without having thoughts race through one’s head, which leads people down this dangerous path in the first place.
- Setting smart goals. During therapy sessions, your therapist can teach you goal-setting skills. Learning these steps will help you make changes to improve your life.
- Self-monitoring technique. Tracking your mood can help you recognize patterns and triggers that lead to bad days. Self-tracking is an integral part of psychotherapy, which focuses on identifying the behaviors or thoughts that make a person feel worse to find solutions for how they will react differently the next time these events happen.
Self-monitoring helps someone track their behavior over time so the therapist has more information about what might be making them feel worse during difficult times, leading to better treatment plans down the line.
- Homework assignments may include activities like writing down things that make you calm and things that cause fear and anxiety, but this does not end here. The next step is to schedule positive activities every day to improve your mood; for example, if watching a movie relaxes your mind, consider doing it often, if not every day. And, for the things that trigger fear, learn to face them rather than avoiding them.
What are the benefits of getting cognitive-behavioral therapy?
- Can help you cope with symptoms of depression. In fact, it is as effective as medication in the treatment of depression and anxiety.
- Can help you identify your negative thoughts, understand the patterns behind them, and find new ways to cope with difficult situations.
- If you have a mental illness, it can help reduce your symptoms and improve your quality of life.
- Helps people with panic disorder to control their fears and worries.
- Teaches skills that will last long after therapy sessions are over (such as how to relax).
- You’ll learn skills to manage stress better – such as deep breathing or relaxation techniques.
- Your therapist will teach you coping mechanisms so that when you’re faced with an anxiety-inducing situation, you know what steps to take to feel better.
- You’ll also get feedback from your therapist on how well these strategies are working for you.
Range of conditions cognitive-behavioral therapy can treat
- Panic disorder
- Childhood depression
- Substance abuse and addiction
- Eating disorders
- Sexual disorders
- GAD (generalized anxiety disorder)
- Social and dental phobia
- Anger issues
- Borderline personality