What is CBT Anyways?
CBT stands for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. The basic premise that cognitive therapists believe is that your problems are based at least in part on cognitive distortions, which are also known as irrational thoughts, or back in the day as stinkin’ thinkin’! These thoughts are often things that you’ve learned over your lifetime through various experiences and people that you’ve met along the way. People like parents, brothers/sisters, teachers, friends, TV shows, movies, news, religious teachings, etc. The thought is that these thoughts are what cause your feelings, not the actual event that happened in your life. So it's not your boss yelling at you that made you anxious, but your thoughts that you were about to get fired!
Therapy then becomes a matter of changing your thoughts to change or improve your feelings. Say for example you have a fear of spiders. In therapy, you’re taught to look for your thoughts that precede your feelings of fear and you discover that you are thinking “OMG that spider is so gross! What if it bites me? Is it poisonous?”. You can see how these thoughts can lead to feeling anxious or fearful! But if you are able to change your thoughts instead to “that spider is probably more afraid of me than I am of it. If I leave it alone, it will most likely stay away from me”, then your feelings would probably be a lot calmer, maybe some mild anxiety or unease. CBT might also target your behaviors to treat this fear of spiders through the use of exposure therapy which is pretty much what it sounds like- exposure to spiders, but in a controlled and gradual way that will lessen your fear over time.
CBT has several techniques that you can use to change these thoughts and improve your overall emotional state. In therapy, you are usually taught these techniques and encouraged to practice them between sessions. You also are often taught methods to manage your feelings such as relaxation, meditation, or mindfulness.
There have been many studies done on CBT throughout the years, and it has been found to be as effective or more effective than other forms of therapy. Some of the problems it helps with are depression, anxiety, PTSD, grief, coping with pain or a medical condition, weight loss, trauma, and addictions to name a few.
For More Information
If you'd like to try CBT with a trained and licensed therapist, I'd love to talk more about this with you. Anxiety Treatment can be very helpful and effective.
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