Cognitive Therapy – What It Is and How It Can Help You
Cognitive therapy is a psychotherapy method developed by psychiatrist Aaron Beck in the 1960s that seeks to alter an individual’s thought processes and behaviors. Not only has this been found effective for many types of emotional problems, but it’s also relatively affordable.
Cognitive therapy involves exploring the beliefs that clients hold about themselves and their environment. These distorted thoughts often cause issues for clients, so a therapist can help them recognize these patterns and utilize cognitive restructuring techniques to alter them.
Clients suffering from mental health disorders such as depression or anxiety often develop negative thinking patterns which lead to feelings of hopelessness or despair. These distorted ideas, known as “schemas,” can impair an individual’s capacity for perspective-taking and hinder them from living life in a healthy manner.
Schemas are formed through genetic factors, selective allocation of attention resources and adverse environmental life events. These schemas can lead to errors in information processing, logical thinking and stress management.
At first, Beck focused on the beliefs that led to his patients’ depression; however, his approach eventually broadened to encompass other types of psychological disorders as well. This was because he held that one’s perceptions about themselves and their lives are at the core of what causes mental illness.
Cognitive therapy is built upon the idea that one’s thoughts have direct consequences on their emotions and behaviour. Thus, cognitive therapy aims to alter a person’s thinking in order to enhance their quality of life.
Psychotherapists employ cognitive therapy, like all forms of psychotherapy, to address the symptoms of an individual’s disorder. It may also be used to teach coping strategies and assist patients in overcoming their issues.
In a cognitive therapy session, the therapist will ask the client to identify the primary issue and provide an explanation for symptoms. They then prompt them to write down what they have learned about their issue as well as identify any next steps necessary to solve it.
A therapist then attempts to persuade the client that their irrational beliefs are incorrect through logical argumentation, commonly referred to as “teaching role.” Verbal arguments or even “battle of the wits” can be employed in order to demonstrate how negative beliefs are unjustified.
Clients suffering from depression often believe they are unworthy of love, joy and success. They may even blame themselves for any misfortune they experience – these negative thoughts being referred to as the “cognitive triad.”
Cognitive therapy helps clients break free of these destructive patterns of thought. Therapists will teach them new ways of thinking by employing techniques such as cognitive restructuring and rational disputation, helping to promote healthier thinking habits.