What Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Focuses on
CBT addresses the thoughts, emotions and behaviors that contribute to mental health issues. It teaches new ways of thinking about your issues so you can solve them more efficiently. Furthermore, cognitive behavioral therapy aims to improve relationships, work performance and social life by teaching healthy habits and techniques.
Cognitive behavioral therapy begins by identifying what is causing your symptoms and what changes you wish to make in yourself or your life. You may have several issues such as anxiety or depression, or simply have a specific concern that needs addressed. You and your therapist will discuss these matters and you can decide which issues need more focus during sessions.
Your therapist will employ case conceptualization during therapy to uncover what’s causing your symptoms and how they might be improved. This involves identifying the most likely causes, making educated guesses as to their relationship, and then testing whether your hypothesis holds up.
Your therapist and you will then work to uncover ways to alter your thoughts about these issues so that they don’t keep you trapped in negative emotions. This might involve completing an understanding intrusive thoughts worksheet or performing a worst case/best case scenario thinking exercise, which you can discuss during sessions with them.
Additionally, your therapist can teach you problem-solving skills that can be applied in real life scenarios. Doing so allows for effective resolution of issues without turning to unhealthy coping tactics.
This can give you a greater sense of control over your life, decreasing symptoms’ frequency and intensity. Furthermore, it teaches you how to manage stress effectively and avoid relapses during recovery.
Goal setting is an essential aspect of cognitive behavioral therapy. It encourages you to create specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-based goals that you can work toward over time. Additionally, goal-setting helps differentiate between short-term and long-term objectives.
Your therapist and you may also work together on developing new coping techniques for symptoms or problems, such as using relaxation techniques during a panic attack or developing calm strategies before an interview. Your therapist might teach you how to recognize negative self-talk and replace it with more helpful, supportive, and constructive self-talk.
Your therapist may also instruct you on how to journal about your experiences and emotions. By writing down what’s on your mind, your therapist can help challenge these ideas and provide valuable feedback.
Cognitive behavioral therapy also teaches coping skills such as mindfulness, emotional regulation and problem-solving. You can learn these abilities through exercises in therapy; they may be especially beneficial if you have a substance use disorder or eating disorder.