What is CBT? According to the Beck Institute, founded by Aaron Beck who is known as the father of cognitive therapy, CBT is a unique form of therapy that is designed to focus on solving problems associated with various mental health issues. The 4 Steps of CBT are:
1. Identifying and examining thought patterns or cognitions
2. Increasing awareness of this inner dialogue
3. Recognizing how your thoughts impact your emotions and behaviors.
4. Restructuring or reframing thought patterns to change beliefs, feelings and behaviors.
CBT can help issues such as depression, poor self-esteem, anxiety, and any condition that involves recurring negative thought patterns. CBT has been proven as an evidenced based psychological treatment.
CBT is handled by a cognitive behavioral therapist who works with you to help you understand, identify and change thought patterns that influence mood and behavior negatively. The main goal of CBT is to help those who focus on disturbing thoughts to understand that they have the ability to control their own thoughts and interpretations concerning their environments. By focusing on these thought patterns, cognitive behavioral therapists can help patients overcome the thoughts and behaviors that perpetuate faulty beliefs.
How It Works
The main focus of the various CBT techniques used in treatment is to help people identify their distorted thoughts about a given situation, and determine methods to change them. Distorted thoughts are simply the thoughts we have that from your perspective may feel like the truth, but in fact may not be fully accurate. Examining and challenging these assumptions and beliefs creates new openings of awareness, new perspectives, and new possibilities, freeing us from the trap of limited thinking.
Six essential components make up cognitive behavioral therapy:
- Education – The process helps you gain a better understanding of both your thinking and the problem causing the thoughts.
- Focus-Oriented – CBT focuses on thoughts occurring right now, rather than trying to help you understand the cause. While understanding the overall cause is important, and can help you to gain control over your thoughts and behaviors. Addressing and exploring the cause may come after you’ve conquered your current issues.
- Goal Setting – You will work with the CBT therapist to develop goals, and the steps needed to achieve them.
- Learning Skills – You will learn new skills that will help you manage your thinking and behavior, and adjust how you approach specific situations.
- Homework – You will put the new skills you learn to work during each week so that you can make progress during the situations as they arise – this helps put the skills you learn into practice to see which ones are most effective.
- Relapse Prevention – You will also learn to practice your new skills and how to recognize situations where you are reverting back to old behaviors and patterns. This will help you continue moving forward, rather than relapsing.
By working through these components, cognitive behavioral therapy can help you overcome anxiety, depression, OCD, phobias and many other mental health conditions, allowing you to progress, be more satisfied, and feel at peace in your daily life.