Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) works to solve current problems and identify thinking and behaviors that are counterproductive to what you want in life. This therapy tends to be short term, focusing on how your thoughts influence your emotions and behavior.
For example, let’s say that a friend ignores you at a ball game. If you think, “he doesn’t like me,” or “he is ashamed to acknowledge me in public,” or “he would rather hang out with his other friends than with me,” you will most likely have hurt, sad and possibly angry emotions.
However, if you think, “it sure is loud here, and there are a lot of distractions; I bet he didn’t even hear me say hello,” you will probably feel fine and possibly walk over to him and give him a warm hello.
How we think determines so much of how we feel.
And the good news is that what we think is under our own control! We have little control over many of the upsetting things that happen to us. The price of gas goes up, our party loses the election, the unsettling events on the nightly news never stop happening. However, what we BELIEVE about those events can be controlled by using CBT skills. Good news for you, huh?
CBT has been known to be effective for the treatment of a variety of conditions, including mood, anxiety, personality disorders, eating disorders, substance abuse, and psychotic disorders.
CBT can be used as a “stand-alone” therapy to help you manage your thoughts, emotions, and behavior. I often use it adjunctively with other forms of therapy such as Dialectical Behavioral therapy or as a tool to give clients a foundation of coping skills to use when they are working with trauma or other difficult issues.
Want to know more about CBT? Here is some information from the Beck Institute:
Q:What is cognitive behavior therapy?
Cognitive behavior therapy is one of the few forms of psychotherapy that has been scientifically tested and found to be effective in hundreds of clinical trials for many different disorders. In contrast to other forms of psychotherapy, cognitive therapy is usually more focused on the present, more time-limited, and more problem-solving oriented. In addition, patients learn specific skills that they can use for the rest of their lives. These skills involve identifying distorted thinking, modifying beliefs, relating to others in different ways, and changing behaviors.
Q:What can I do to get ready for CBT treatment?
An important first step is to set goals. Ask yourself, “How would I like to be different by the end of therapy?” Think specifically about changes you’d like to make at work, at home, in your relationships with family, friends, co-workers, and others. Think about what symptoms have been bothering you and which you’d like to decrease or eliminate. Think about other areas that would improve your life: pursuing spiritual/intellectual/cultural interests, increasing exercise, decreasing bad habits, learning new interpersonal skills, improving management skills at work or at home. Your therapist will help you develop a goal list and decide which goals you might be able to work toward on your own and which ones you might want to work on in therapy.