What is CBT?
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is a common talk therapy used by psychologists and therapists. As the term describes, it focuses on how people's thoughts, behaviors, emotional reactions, and actions get influenced by their cognitions. This means that the way you think, your value system, your beliefs about yourself, and your interpretations of the situations you find yourself in affect your everyday actions.
For example, someone who experiences a panic attack might live in perpetual fear of having one again. Their behavior might change, and they may do things they believe will minimize the chances of another episode. These could include avoiding stressful situations or avoiding hurrying not to get light-headed. And thus, this becomes their coping mechanism.
The example illustrates how it is not only the things and situations that cause problems but the value and emotions we invest them with. However, CBT helps you recognize, modify, and reevaluate distorted and unhelpful thoughts and negative behavioral patterns. A mental health professional can aid you by closely examining your thoughts and emotions.
This model of psychological intervention seeks to assist you in recognizing and exploring how actions and behavior get influenced by thinking patterns and feelings. As soon as you become aware of these patterns, you can start learning how to alter your behavior and create new coping mechanisms.
The Different Types
There are various forms of cognitive behavioral therapy. Some of the forms you might see are:
Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT)
As the name suggests, mindfulness is a critical component of MBCT. The emphasis is on altering one's response to thoughts rather than altering thoughts themselves. For those who experience high levels of stress, anxiety, despair, and chronic pain, it is a particularly beneficial kind of therapy.
In this, you learn to maintain a mindful distance from your thoughts and refrain from judging them. This method of thinking disengages from the vicious loop of toxic thinking, which can increase unpleasant emotions like anxiety, stress, and depression. The objective is to support people in making positive decisions every day and enhance their current situation.
Dialectical-Behavioral Therapy (DBT)
This technique incorporates mindfulness and emotional regulation through talk therapy. It is focused on getting the patient to take control of their unrestrained emotions and moving them towards experiencing those feelings. The next step aims to help the patient live a productive life and assess how spirituality can help them achieve this.
The main focus of this approach is on 'dialectics' - which means reconciling the opposites. For example, it could focus on achieving self-acceptance while recognizing the need to change. Therefore, this therapy is most common for Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) patients.
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)
This treatment approach emphasizes the acceptance of harmful or unwanted thoughts, feelings, and emotions. It asserts that psychological issues occur due to the lack of effectiveness. It also says that controlling your thoughts or blocking negative emotions can worsen your symptoms.
Thus, this approach strives to help patients choose effective and accepting behaviors and commit to them, even in the face of intrusive thoughts and feelings. The goal is to increase mental and emotional flexibility. The patient needs to be present in the here and now, thus advocating the therapeutic use of mindfulness.
Cognitive Therapy (CT)
This technique primarily focuses on cognitions and replacing cognitive distortions with more positive and rational thinking to bring about a change in emotions and behavior.
Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT)
This treatment approach generally helps alleviate symptoms of PTSD. It aids people who have experienced trauma and are "stuck" in their thoughts. These patients are in a state of conflict regarding their beliefs of themselves and the world before and after the traumatic event.
CPT involves both the patient and the therapist. Your healthcare professional will help you effectively identify and address the "stuck" points. They do this by assisting you in gathering evidence for or against your self-conceived notions.
Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT)
This type encourages people to take action to cope with irrational thoughts and emotions. This is important to develop healthier, more practical ways to control their feelings, thoughts, and behaviors.
Our cognition, emotions, and behavior are linked. Therefore, examining people's beliefs about these experiences and emotions is critical to comprehending the impact of the events and situations people encounter.
Problems might arise when people have irrational beliefs about themselves or the world. To get over psychological and mental issues, REBT aims to assist individuals in identifying and changing such beliefs and negative thought patterns.
What are the Benefits?
The benefits of this treatment approach are extensive because CBT effectively reduces the symptoms of mental health concerns. This is true, especially in the case of anxiety disorders. Some benefits are listed below:
- Duration: This therapy's course is shorter, typically taking 20 sessions overall. Thus, it may be more effective than other types of treatments.
- Results: Cognitive behavioral therapy has longer-lasting results compared to other treatment approaches. This is because the focus is on identifying core beliefs and harmful thought patterns, working on them, and developing skills for everyday use. Over time, the patients learn to overcome their issues themselves using the tools provided in therapy.
- Flexibility: The sessions can be delivered in both online and offline formats. You can also opt for individual or group sessions.
- Effectiveness: The skills learned in this treatment can be applied to daily life. Those who undergo this therapy receive tools to assist them in gaining control over their problems. These can help them throughout their lifetime.
- Better Alternative: CBT can be used with or without medication. It may be a better alternative than medication for some patients because medicines don't work on certain people.
The goal of cognitive behavioral therapy is more than just recognizing thinking patterns. To assist people in overcoming these tendencies, it employs a variety of techniques. Some common techniques include:
- Identifying Negative Thoughts: To learn the cause of maladaptive behaviors, it is vital to recognize catastrophic thoughts and feelings. Doing so can lead to self-discovery and provide beneficial insights to ease the therapy process.
- Journaling: Your specialist may ask you to write down your negative beliefs and work on replacing them with positive ones.
- Acquiring New Skills: CBT comprises a therapeutic technique requiring you to develop new skills. For example, someone with anxiety disorders may learn to adopt and practice new coping mechanisms.
- Setting Goals: As a time-limited therapy, this approach can maintain efficiency by achieving goals. These help to organize the sessions and keep the focus. Setting goals suggests the possibility of change, which fosters optimism and lessens the client's sense of helplessness, even if their issues appear unconquerable.
- Problem-Solving: During cognitive behavioral therapy, you can learn problem-solving techniques. These can help you recognize and address potential issues that could result from both major and minor life stressors. Additionally, it can lessen the harmful effects of both mental and physical sickness.
- Self-Talk and Self-Monitoring: While therapy can offer help, you must monitor your behavior and talk yourself out of negative thinking patterns. Monitoring yourself involves tracking behaviors and symptoms and sharing them with your therapist. Self-talk consists of replacing negative and critical talk with compassionate and constructive talk. Both these techniques provide your therapist with adequate information to come up with the best treatment.
- Mental Distractions: Distracting yourself from a strong emotion can make it less strong and reduce its intensity. This can make it easier to manage and control that emotion. It is also important to note that this is temporary, and your brain will return to that unwanted cognition.
However, it can be easier to manage this time due to reduced intensity. You can use different coping mechanisms, such as journaling or self-monitoring. Additionally, this technique could be more effective when clients devise a positive distraction instead of trying not to think about negative emotions.
- Role-Playing: CBT usually employs role-play to treat people with a phobia. For those who frequently think a seemingly feared situation is intrinsically dangerous, therapeutic role-playing has shown to be a successful treatment. In this kind of therapy, the patient and the therapist might act out challenging events for people with a phobia. The patient learns new habits to assist them in getting over their specific phobia through role-playing.
- Relaxation Strategies: Several mental health concerns, anxiety disorders, depression, and sleep problems are often maintained and sustained through tension. Thus, relaxation strategies may help in reducing symptoms and offering relief.
What Conditions Can it Help Treat?
This approach can accomplish treatment and management of various mental health issues and emotional difficulties. These include:
- Depression: To manage the symptoms of depression, this treatment approach relies upon assisting the patient in overcoming any adverse cognitive distortions and constructing a more balanced understanding of themselves, the world, and the future. Additionally, it tries to restore activity levels by activity scheduling and creative problem-solving.
- Anxiety Disorders: Since CBT focuses on how our negative cognitions affect our responses, it strives to manage anxiety responses - fight, flight, freeze - when faced with a threat. The treatment emphasizes replacing adverse beliefs and ineffective patterns with practical actions, realistic thoughts, and better coping mechanisms. This can help overcome phobias and anxiety disorders.
- Eating Disorders: CBT is effective for eating disorders, especially bulimia nervosa. People with eating disorders often reevaluate their shape and weight, determining their self-worth in these terms. They may also show an intense desire or fear of losing/gaining weight. These are cognitive in nature. Thus, this approach primarily engages in developing eating strategies and planning meals for the patient. You may also be asked to self-monitor by recording or writing before and after eating.
- Anger Issues: Anger is an emotion that can get triggered due to the violation of certain codes of conduct or as a defensive reaction to a perceived threat. CBT might help you recognize anger patterns, typical thoughts which provoke anger, and common triggers. This is followed by learning relaxation, self-calming, and self-instructional techniques. The patient is then required to rehearse these strategies and implement them in real-life scenarios.
- Substance Abuse: SUD and Addiction often stem from a person's negative "automatic thought." These are impulsive and may arise from misconceptions and perceived feelings of self-doubt or fear about oneself. People usually try to self-medicate through drugs or turn to alcohol to eradicate these. CBT helps recognize these automatic negative thoughts and provides patients with better and more effective alternatives.
- Personality Disorders: People with personality disorders have distinctive thought patterns that may become problematic. Their thought processes frequently exhibit intense, inflexible, and distorted traits. CBT focuses on recognizing and altering faulty thought processes, which is especially beneficial for patients with personality disorders. In particular, the fundamental assumptions that underlie those patterns are exposed and challenged. Therefore, this approach aims to spot and correct negative automatic and faulty fundamental beliefs.
Get Counseling from a Trusted Therapist With DocVita
Acknowledging and getting support for a mental health problem or emotional difficulties in your life can be intimidating, but you must do so. Cognitive behavioral therapy can help you better understand and overcome the obstacles keeping you from leading a healthy, wholesome life.
This form of psychological treatment teaches you to be your own therapist. However, you must first consult a trusted provider to learn and successfully maintain that relationship with yourself. Experts in their field, they are up to date on the latest research and therapeutic techniques that can assist you.
At DocVita, we have various specialists who use CBT and would gladly help you take steps towards living your best life. Our therapists are compassionate and understanding of what is going on in your current life. Based on that information, they come up with the best treatment options, tailor-made to suit your individual needs. All you need to do is visit our page and schedule your first session today!