What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), or cognitive therapy, is a kind of talk therapy that challenges the patient’s negative thought patterns about themselves and the world, with the hope of enabling them to change unwanted behavior patterns and moods. The goal of CBT is generally to empower the individual to identify their own thought patterns and alter or replace them when they are unhealthy. This prevents patterns which are maladaptive or dysfunctional from taking root and subverting the person’s quality of life, either by causing the person to live in unhealthy emotional states for too long, or by making choices which are counterproductive to their goals.
Cognitive behavioral therapy makes a number of assumptions about living:
- Unhealthy thought patterns lead to psychological issues
- Unhealthy behavior patterns also lead to psychological issues
- People can learn new ways of thinking and behaving
- New habits can relieve unwanted symptoms of mental and physical conditions and allow people to behave in more responsible ways.
According to therapists who use CBT in their practices, the reason that certain events cause problems for us is because of the meanings we give them, as well as the events themselves. Put differently, a situation may have real world consequences that we have to live with, but they also live on in our memories, carrying with them the meaning we give them as they do. If those memories give rise to unhelpful thoughts, then these thoughts can make it difficult for us to function confidently in certain situations.
How Does CBT Work?
For CBT to be effective, the patient must be an active participant in his or her own transformation. CBT works because there is a connection between thinking and mood or behavior. Generally, when beginning a course of CBT, the therapist chooses to work with the patient in one specific area. Maybe it’s a failing marriage. Perhaps it’s a lack of self-love that’s causing depression. Perhaps the individual struggles to find acceptance at work. Whatever the case, having this starting point helps the patient see specific areas where he or she is allowing negative thinking to affect daily life, and how that thinking is affecting life.
At that point, the therapist will work to identify those instances when the situation appears, and how the patient responds to it. If every time you see your boss at work, you respond in an undesirable way, then the therapist may attempt to identify all the situations in which you might encounter your boss, and then all the ways you respond negatively when you do. Some of this might require some homework on your part, as you might not be able to articulate all of the negative responses you have within a one-hour therapy session.
After getting a basic road map of your triggers and responses, your next goal will be to identify those triggers at the moment they occur. Later on, when you journal about these incidents, you should also make an effort to explain how you responded to them. Your therapist should be able to help you stay objective as you consider whether these responses were healthy; you may attempt to justify your behavior to yourself, but a good therapist will catch you in your self-deception and talk you through how you might have been able to make a healthier choice.
This hopefully leads to healthier responses when you face triggers the next time. It also should begin to show you that you can think about stressful situations in a healthier way. Perhaps this can even get you to think about being triggered in a healthier way. Eventually, you may come to view being triggered as a normal part of the human condition. Everyone gets triggered after all; what sets us apart from each other perhaps is how we respond to those events, and whether we can view them as opportunities.
CBT can produce excellent results when used to treat addictions, phobias, stress, trauma, anxiety, or mood disorders like depression or bipolar disorder. Therapists can use one-on-one or group talk therapy, role playing, relaxation techniques, exposure therapy, homework, and journaling. The goal is always to get the patient to apply what he or she is learning, assess the results, and get feedback from the therapist. With this iterative process, success is not guaranteed, but progress is almost a certainty.
Who Benefits from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?
Cognitive behavioral therapy is for anyone who might have a pattern of dysfunctional thinking that gets in the way of performance, healthy moods or relationships. Perhaps the tricky part is coming to know when your thinking is getting in the way. Still, the more people who come to hear of this form of therapy and gain some experience with it, the more likely someone who needs it might come to realize that it can benefit them.
What are the Benefits of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?
There are many ways we can fall into a pattern of erroneous thinking. The goal of CBT is to help you identify those patterns and avoid them. Cognitive behavioral therapy can help you:
- Stop fearing the worst
- Face your fears
- See your problems more clearly
- Set attainable goals
- Stop taking the blame for things that aren’t your fault
- Become more optimistic
- Assess your circumstances objectively
- Distinguish between facts and irrational thoughts or opinions
- Stop thinking in terms of generalizations
- Identify your automatic thoughts
- Challenge your underlying assumptions
- Identify connections between the past and your current thinking
- Become aware of your emotional states or moods
- Develop different perspectives
- Understand the actions and motivations of others
- Avoid judging others, and learn to understand and accept instead
Why is Essential Care NJ Your Best Option for CBT?
The mental health professionals at Essential Care NJ utilize talk therapy in many forms and on many platforms. Given that cognitive behavioral therapy is a standard form of talk therapy in today’s treatment space, most therapists are familiar with it, and you shouldn’t have trouble finding a therapist that offers it at the Essential Care NJ clinic nearest you. Our core values are fairness, integrity, and honesty, and our purpose is to provide accessible, holistic, patient-centered care that enables our patients to lead stress-free, healthy lives. At Essential Care NJ, our number one priority is always your well-being, and we strive to bring you the peace of mind you are looking for.
Choose Essential Care NJ for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
If you think there is some chance that limiting beliefs and emotions are holding you back from a successful or happy life, then use the search tool on this website to find the Essential Care office nearest you and call our office to set up an appointment. We are grateful for the chance to work with you and hear your story. Limiting thoughts and beliefs are insidious, because they often run our lives without our even knowing they are there. It takes a good life coach or therapist to open our eyes to how much we are holding ourselves back. We can show you how to develop these skills so you can get out of your own way. Let us be that coach for you.