Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is an excellent form of treatment for anxiety, depression, and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. In addition to these conditions, CBT can treat eating disorders, substance abuse, and anger management. The cognitive behavioral therapy definition is important to understand. Cognitive Behavior Therapy incorporates thought analysis and behavior modification. The idea behind CBT is that you can change your thoughts and therefore modify how you feel. That’s why it works so well for depression. People who suffer from a depressed mood feel stagnated. They’re stuck in a negative thought pattern, and it’s difficult to break it. But, with Cognitive Behavior Therapy, they can modify their feelings by reframing their thoughts. Here are some of the ways that CBT can help people.
Thoughts and feelings are different
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy operates under the premise that your thoughts and feelings are separate. You could have a thought such as “I’m a loser.” which then makes you feel depressed. CBT talks about automatic thoughts. That means we cannot control the thoughts in our minds, but we have a say in what we do about them. When you have the automatic thought, “I’m a loser,” you can choose to stop and question the validity. That can happen using something called thought records. A person writes down their automatic thoughts and questions whether there are any cognitive distortions present.
Every one of us has experienced cognitive distortions. One example could be black and white thinking. Let’s say you have a bad date with someone. They don’t ask you out a second time. Your automatic thought is, “I’m a terrible catch.” That’s a black and white way of looking at dating. In reality, you weren’t right for that particular person. That doesn’t mean you’re not going to find anyone to date. There’s a middle ground here. In addition to black and white thinking, there’s a list of other common cognitive distortions. A CBT therapist will help you determine which ones they see in your thinking and show you ways to positively reframe your thoughts.
CBT for depression
Part of what keeps people in a depressed state is their negative thinking patterns. CBT can help a person look at their thoughts and see what’s going wrong. A therapist trained in CBT teaches their client to detach from their depressed thoughts and see the reality of the situation. Many people who suffer from depression feel like it won’t end. This is what CBT terms an overgeneralization. A person makes an assumption about how things are based on one observation. If things feel awful, the expectation is that they’ll remain that way indefinitely, when that’s not the case. CBT can help people who are suffering from depression see some hope.
CBT for anxiety
One of the most prevalent cognitive distortions we see in people with anxiety disorders is catastrophizing. That means a person jumps to the worst-case scenario. They assume that something horrible will happen when that’s not necessarily the case. For example, you might think, “if I don’t call my friend back, she won’t be my buddy anymore.” That’s a scary thought and could cause that person to panic. In reality, that’s unlikely. That’s why it’s crucial to catch oneself catastrophizing so you can reframe the thought. A therapist who understands CBT will help someone who has chronic anxiety analyze their thought patterns and teach them how to reframe their thinking.
CBT for substance abuse
People who suffer from substance abuse often have self-sabotage behavior. That’s where CBT can help. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy helps the individual see that behavior and work against it. Another issue that people with addiction manage is impulsivity. CBT is a treatment that can help a person learn to manage impulse control. It’s used in many residential and outpatient facilities for substance abuse.
Are you interested in pursuing CBT therapy?
If you’re interested in pursuing therapy with a CBT therapist, you can find one of your own. Whether you work with a therapist online or in person, you can find one who specializes in Cognitive Behavior Therapy. When you interview potential therapists, you can ask them if they utilize CBT techniques. You can also describe your issues and see if CBT is a good fit for you.
Marie Miguel Biography
Marie Miguel has been a writing and research expert for nearly a decade, covering a variety of health- related topics. Currently, she is contributing to the expansion and growth of a free online mental health resource with BetterHelp.com. With an interest and dedication to addressing stigmas associated with mental health, she continues to specifically target subjects related to anxiety and depression.