In Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, a therapist and the client work together to identify and challenge any negative thinking patterns and behavior which may be causing the client any problems. This can guide him/her in changing the manner in which he/she feels about situations and help in changing behavior in future situations. This post gives an idea of CBT.
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is one of the best studied and used forms of therapy. CBT is built on the combination of the basic principles from behavioral and cognitive psychology. Originally, this therapy was designed to treat depression, but its use has been stretched to cover treatment of other mental health conditions, like anxiety as well.
The core principles of CBT are identifying negative or false beliefs and testing or restructuring them. CBT focuses on how your thoughts, beliefs and attitudes affect your feelings and behavior, and also, teaches you coping skills for dealing with different problems.
You and your therapist might focus on what is going on in your life presently, you both can both look at the past, and think about how the past experiences impact the manner in which one views the world.
It is important to realize that what we think, how we feel and how we behave are all inter connected – and all of these factors jointly shape our well-being.
Through the sessions, focus is on exploring relationships among the client’s thoughts, feelings and behaviors. Both the therapist and the client work to reveal unhealthy patterns of thought and how they may be the source of self-destructive behaviors and beliefs.
By approaching this model of thoughts, they can put to work to design constructive ways of thinking that can create healthier behaviors and beliefs. For example, CBT can help someone replace thoughts that lead to low self-esteem (“I can’t do anything right”) with positive expectations (“I can do this most of the time, I just need to be more confident”).
A number of CBT techniques can be used to help individuals challenge their patterns and beliefs and replace errors in thinking, known as cognitive distortions, such as overgeneralizing, magnifying negatives, minimizing positives and catastrophizing, with more realistic and logical thoughts, thus reducing emotional distress and self-defeating behavior. CBT techniques may also be used to help individuals take a more open, mindful, and conscious attitude toward cognitive distortions which leads to decrease their impact.
CBT can be employed in combination with a variety of techniques such as exposure therapy, relaxation training, stress inoculation, dialectical behavior therapy, and acceptance and commitment therapy. It is important to realize that what we think, how we feel and how we behave are all inter connected – and all of these factors jointly shape our well-being.
Puja Roy is a health psychologist and is currently working as a counselor at the Institute of Neurosciences, Kolkata. You can follow her here.