What is Cognitive Behavior Therapy?
Cognitive behavior therapy, commonly referred to as CBT, is a very popular Evidence-Based Treatment. Counselors use CBT to help clients learn how thoughts and feelings can influence their behaviors. CBT is most often used in the treatment of depression, anxiety, and to help clients manage fears and phobias.
Cognitive behavior therapy is typically a short-term form of therapy and assists clients in quickly gaining control of what can otherwise be very burdensome problems. A Cognitive Behavior Therapist teaches clients how to identify and replace destructive thoughts that negatively influence their behaviors.
Cognitive Behavior Therapy Fundamentals
A fundamental belief in CBT is that thoughts and feelings significantly impact our behaviors. A simple example would be a person who is overwhelmingly afraid of going out in public. A CBT Counselor would help the person challenge those unhealthy, destructive thoughts and replace them with more healthy, productive ones. The intent is for the person to begin to have more positive and realistic feelings about going out in public, therefore allowing him or her to begin doing so without any un-do stress or negative feelings.
Since it’s typically short-term, cognitive behavior therapy has gained in popularity in recent years. Insurance companies favor short-term therapy due to obvious financial reasons. And with years of research supporting it as an Evidence-Based Treatment, there are valid reasons for insurance companies to favor it as a preferred treatment.
Stages of Cognitive Behavior Therapy
Most people have experienced a situation where negative thinking has impacted their behaviors, perhaps in their family, work relationships, or in their intimate relationships.
In order to stop the negative thinking patterns, a Cognitive Behavior Therapist will help you start by identifying the negative thoughts that are currently influencing your feelings and behaviors. You will learn how thoughts, feelings, and situations can work together to create unhealthy behaviors. This can sometimes be a challenging process, and a Cognitive Behavior Therapist is trained to help you do this in the most effective way possible.
The second stage of Cognitive Behavior Therapy focuses on behaviors that are adding to the problem. Clients will learn and practice new coping skills that can be put to use in personal, real-life situations they are faced with. Generally CBT sessions work in incremental stages. For example, someone afraid to leave their home and be in a social setting would start by simply imagining the fearful situation and practicing coping skills to calm down. Then the therapist will give homework to start taking limited outings that may be somewhat anxiety provoking. By taking incremental steps toward the bigger goal, the process seems less overwhelming and clients typically feel empowered because they’re making continual progress.
What problems can Cognitive Behavior Therapy be used for?
Cognitive behavior therapy has been researched extensively and has been found to be effective in treating various mental health issues. Some of most common issues we use CBT for at the office are depression, anxiety, fears or phobias, panic attacks, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and posttraumatic stress disorder. CBT is often a therapy of choice when a shorter-term treatment option is sought. And perhaps the biggest benefit of CBT is that the coping skills learned in session can be useful both in the present and in the future if needed.