What Is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is an effective treatment for many mental health disorders. It teaches individuals how to restructure their thoughts and behavior in order to manage emotional problems such as depression, anxiety and panic disorder.
CBT has also been shown to be effective for relieving symptoms of physical illnesses like migraines and chronic back pain. When combined with medications, research has demonstrated positive outcomes over a sustained period of time.
Cognitive behavioral therapy was pioneered in the 1960s by psychiatrist Aaron Beck, who observed that many of his patients had negative thought patterns that did not serve them well.
He sought to alter these thought patterns and help his clients develop more realistic, rational perspectives of their lives. In addition to helping his patients alter their perspectives, Beck employed several other techniques that would ultimately improve their quality of life.
Cognitive behavioral therapy emphasizes the importance of self-talk and interpretations of events, beliefs about others and feelings. Your therapist will work with you on becoming more aware of your thoughts, emotions and beliefs about yourself and others; they may ask that you record what occurs in a journal or diary for later reference.
Your therapist and you will discuss what issues need to be addressed during therapy, then set goals that reflect what progress has been made so far. Your therapist may ask you to identify any troubling situations or conditions in your life and record how they affect your emotions and beliefs.
Your therapist will also aid in the identification and management of negative automatic thoughts. They may use a worksheet to document these ideas, then give advice on how best to combat them.
CBT therapy techniques vary, but the goal is to assist you in reframing and improving your thinking. Some of these strategies include recognizing negative automatic thoughts, reframing inaccurate or unhelpful thinking and learning to accept and embrace feelings without judgment.
Cognitive behavioral therapy emphasizes the importance of changing your thinking, as this can have a significant effect on your feelings and actions. Although it may be challenging to alter habits and thought patterns, with practice you will become more adept at doing so.
The aim is to alter your beliefs and attitudes about yourself, others, and the world in which you live. Your therapist will guide you through this process of reshaping your thinking, helping you identify how these beliefs are impacting your mood, behavior and relationships.
At the start of your therapy journey, your therapist will ask you to identify any troubling situations or conditions that are causing you distress. These could include things like a medical condition, divorce, grief, anger or signs of mental health illness.
Once you’ve identified your troubling issues, it’s time to begin therapy sessions. Your therapist will give you a questionnaire before the first session so they can get acquainted with you and ask questions about your past, present, and future goals.