There is a good reason why Cognitive Behavior Therapy (or CBT for short) is so popular. It is well researched and has been shown to be effective for the large majority of people who use it with mental health issues such as anxiety and depression.
How Does it Work?
First, CBT teaches you to recognize your negative, irrational thought patterns that fuel depression and anxiety. One way of increasing awareness of our thought patterns begins with identifying whether our current thoughts are helpful or unhelpful.
Emotional distress is usually attached to unhelpful thinking styles. Examples of unhelpful thinking can include predicting what may happen in the future, assuming what others may be thinking, and thinking of the worst case scenario. If I am thinking the worst is going to happen, then the likelihood of feeling anxious is high.
Turning Negative Thoughts Into Positive Ones
Second, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy teaches you to reframe your negative thoughts into positive, more rational thoughts. This is achieved through a variety of techniques, including looking at your thoughts objectively.
One CBT technique is finding evidence that proves whether our initial negative thought about a situation is true. If I am thinking everyone is going to laugh at me when I present at a conference, what concrete evidence do I have to prove this? When we find that rational evidence is lacking we start to break down our emotional attachment to that thought. Then we can replace that negative thought with a neutral statement, “I have no proof everyone will laugh at me, it will be ok”.
CBT also looks at how your thoughts, feelings and behaviors are related so that you can learn to stop unhealthy behaviors. Once you connect how your perception of a situation impacts your feelings, you gain the power to begin reinforcing positive thought processes and positive behaviors.
In essence CBT requires you to retrains your brain so you can think more positively. During the course of therapy you will have homework (paper and pen tasks) and you will also need to be aware of actively employing the techniques in your daily life.
Who Can Be Helped by Using CBT?
Cognitive Behavior Therapy works well for people with depression, anxiety, anger and chronic pain.
If CBT sounds like something that could work for you please contact us. CBT is one of our favorite things to use to work with clients because it is so effective!