Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for Stress
CBT’s primary purpose is to help you recognize and alter the thoughts, feelings and behaviors that cause stress. This can be accomplished through therapy sessions, exercises or homework assignments.
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) has been proven to be an effective treatment for a range of issues, such as depression, anxiety, obsessive thinking, eating and sleep disorders, substance abuse issues and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Studies show that people who receive CBT experience greater success treating their conditions than those receiving other psychological therapies or psychiatric medications.
Therapy encourages you to be open and honest about your worries. She will also teach you new coping mechanisms so that symptoms can be managed more effectively.
You’ll also be encouraged to write about your feelings and what you’re learning in therapy. Doing this can help you better comprehend the experience, as well as strengthen the bond with your therapist.
Furthermore, you’ll learn various techniques for dealing with stress such as relaxation methods, breathing exercises and mindfulness practices. These can reduce tension and shallow breathing – known to lead to stress and anxiety.
Your therapist can identify patterns of behavior that could exacerbate your condition, such as avoidance, distraction or projection. These could include things like avoiding situations that trigger anxiety or doing something to distract yourself, like keeping the TV on while trying to relax or snapping at your partner when feeling anxious.
Therapists may suggest changing your behavior by practicing yoga or meditation to relax. While these techniques have proven useful for people suffering from chronic stress, not everyone finds them comfortable.
Kristen Carpenter, a psychologist in women’s behavioral health at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, emphasizes the importance of finding a therapist with expertise on your specific issue. When searching for someone to work with you, try to select someone who fits both of you well and meets both of your needs, she advises.
You can locate a therapist trained in cognitive-behavioral therapy by searching the Web or calling your local mental health agency. Additionally, the American Psychological Association and Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies both list certified practitioners of this therapy.
The initial session of CBT typically consists of psychoeducation, which means your therapist will teach you about your condition and its causes. This can be immensely helpful to many people as it gives them insight into their issue and offers examples of other people’s successes in overcoming it.
In a second session, you’ll work on altering your thoughts and behaviors by paying attention to how you think and respond to stressful situations. This can be easier than expected but requires time and practice in order to become proficient.
Your therapist may suggest other treatments, such as medication or counseling. These can be combined with CBT or used separately to address your condition.