What Is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

There is a wide range of mental health services available to those who are seeking professional help. However, only a few are accessible to those with learning disabilities. Is cognitive behavioral therapy right for them?

A girl sitting on a chair, running her thoughts. That is the first step of what is cognitive behavioral therapy about.
Source: unsplash.com

What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?

What is cognitive behavioral therapy? It falls under a broader set of therapies. They recognize that changing our thoughts helps us deal with specific problems.

So, what is cognitive behavioral therapy again? It is one of the few forms of treatment that has been scientifically validated. It boasts of more than 300 scientific studies. It’s one of the most effective treatments for many psychological problems and disorders.

The core principles of approaching date back to Aaron Beck, a 20th-century American psychiatrist. While working with people who suffered from depression, Beck saw that they commonly held negative thoughts and beliefs.

He believed that thoughts, feelings, and actions are interconnected. Beck emphasized the need for the right intervention. Individuals work toward changing inaccurate thinking, problematic conduct, and distressing emotional responses.

And yet many still ask – what is cognitive behavioral therapy? A treatment that follows through with the premise above. Although our problems come from the past, they are sustained by things in the present. To treat this, people should target the present and look at ways to reassess negative thoughts.

In doing so, individuals can learn to be flexible and practice positive ways of thinking. This consequently influences actions and conduct.

Note that CBT is different from traditional talk therapy. Why and what is it exactly? It doesn’t focus entirely on the past. Instead, it engages in a more problem-solving type of orientation.

Here, the therapist and patient work together to identify and replace current distorted thoughts and beliefs. This, in turn, targets their negative moods and counterproductive or self-sabotaging behavior.

Learn The Techniques Used in Therapy And Ways To Apply Them On Yourself

What is CBT? It is useful in treating a wide range of mental health disorders. If you suffer from procrastination, you can try activity scheduling or set simple goals. Maintaining a journal can help those with anxiety and depression. It also uses breathing and mindfulness exercises to promote relaxation and reduce stress.

Goals and Techniques of This Therapy That One Should Know

CBT’s primary goal is to equip you with tools to identify and replace harmful or irrational thoughts so you can respond to setbacks better. It’s possible to achieve this by working with a therapist trained in restructuring and guided discovery.

Ultimately, cognitive behavioral therapy strives to educate patients to become their own therapists by assisting and guiding them so that they will be able to comprehend present thought patterns and actions, and by providing strategies to alter negative patterns.

You can also do it yourself through journaling and mindful breathing exercises.

CBT focuses on identifying and correcting harmful thoughts that may unknowingly influence how you feel and behave. Instead of looking at your past, it examines your current thoughts, feelings, and actions.

Key concepts of cognitive therapy

CBT analyzes intricate connections between a person’s thoughts, feelings, and conduct in a diagram known as cognitive triangle. Proponents argue that emotional distress and self-destructive behaviors are often the results of a misguided way of thinking about a situation.

So, CBT focuses on identifying and replacing these thoughts to help you build practical self-help skills.

4 steps of cognitive restructuring

The first step in cognitive restructuring is paying attention to your thoughts. Once you become aware of these thought patterns, you can assess whether they are harmful or unproductive.

Three main goals in cognitive therapy

The first goal of CBT is to address a person’s immediate problems by replacing cognitive distortions. The second goal hopes to build a solid foundation that allows you to respond more compassionately when you face a similar situation someday.

Over time, CBT aims to rewire how you think by restructuring cognitive patterns.

Can I teach myself cognitive behavioral therapy?

Yes. Journaling is an effective way to identify thought patterns that may be unknowingly influencing your emotions and behavior. When you write down your thoughts and feelings regularly, it’s possible to recognize and reframe cognitive distortions. You can also look for courses on how to do self-CBT online or join web-based groups.

Techniques are used in humanistic therapy

Since humanistic therapy advocates for unconditional self-acceptance, this kind of treatment focuses on helping you build a strong sense of self. In most sessions, your therapist will actively listen as you describe your lived experience. They may use role-playing or reenactments to help you come to terms with a problem.

Techniques of behavior therapy

For people with anxiety disorders, behavioral experiments might be useful. In this case, you will need to complete a task that makes you anxious. Afterward, you will sit down with your therapist and discuss whether the worst-case scenario you envisioned took place.

What is cognitive behavioral therapy?

If you have social anxiety, your therapist will help you identify some cognitive distortions you may have formed about interacting with other people. If they trace it to a traumatic or unpleasant experience, they will give you tools to think about the situation more healthily and compassionately.

They can also help you improve your communication and social skills through behavioral experiments.

A girl lying in the bed with dead branches.
Source: unsplash.com

What is CBT for anxiety?

CBT is a common approach to treat anxiety, which is often driven by irrational thoughts. By breaking down a problem into ideas, feelings, and behaviors, a person with anxiety can examine how their thoughts play into how they feel and act.

In doing so, they are in a better place to identify and hopefully replace cognitive distortions with more helpful and grounded ways of thinking.

What are the common cognitive distortions?

Overgeneralizations, all-or-nothing thinking, jumping to conclusions, and catastrophizing are common cognitive distortions. When you focus solely on the negative aspect of a message or discount positive, that’s also a distortion.

Expecting the world to operate fairly or things to fall into place all the time is another irrational way of thinking.

What happens in cognitive behavioral therapy?

During a CBT session, you can share a problem with your therapist, who will help you break it down into three distinct components. He or she will help you examine your thoughts and how they may be producing unwanted outcomes in form of emotional consequences or self-destructive behaviors.

They will also teach you how to build healthier coping mechanisms. As part of your treatment, you may have to complete assignments or worksheets.

What is the difference between cognitive therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy?

Cognitive-behavioral therapy examines relationship between cognitive distortions and behavior, which places a more significant premium on a person’s mental and emotional state. By combining CBT, it becomes a more holistic approach.

What is the cognitive triangle?

The cognitive triangle explains the complex interaction between an individual’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. The diagram shows that it’s possible to influence one component by changing the other. For instance, by tweaking your thoughts, it’s possible to lift your mood and even change your behavior.

What are the benefits of breathing techniques?

Deep breathing is a highly effective way to reduce stress. It sends a message to your body to calm down and lowers your heart rate and blood pressure. Practicing mindful breathing for five minutes three times a day can improve your stress response.

So what is cognitive behavioral therapy?

The Takeaway

Source: unsplash.com

So What Is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?

Behind each person’s action, be it trivial or significant, is a complex cognitive process. And some people may develop negative thinking patterns, which subsequently trigger other health problems.

It helps you recognize negative thoughts. It also provides ways to change them. The end goal is to address psychological and personality problems. It’s anchored on recognition that thoughts and perception affect our feelings and behavior.

This is a treatment option for a variety of mental disorders or problems. The treatment is most commonly used for people with depression and anxiety. It can also help with Alzheimer’s disease, ADHD, panic disorder, eating disorder, OCD, and PTSD.

It can also work for people with anger management problems and treat insomnia. Sometimes, it’s used as a complementary treatment for patients suffering from other chronic pain conditions.

This form of treatment is typically done in a therapist’s office. A trained therapist works with clients in either individual or group sessions.

There are also several techniques in administering the treatment. Some techniques include validity testing, cognitive rehearsal, journaling, and guided discovery. The therapist helps clients learn and develop skills that help them reassess negative thoughts on their own.

It also takes a shorter time to accomplish compared to traditional talk therapy. It takes as few as 6 sessions for some people to achieve goals. However, keep in mind that results vary from person to person. For people with more long-standing problems, a couple of weeks or months may be adequate to address needs.