CBT, also known as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, is a common form of talk therapy that helps individuals to gain an understanding of how their thoughts can have a direct impact on their actions; cognition leads to behavior. CBT is a tool, or structured plan used during therapy to treat or manage some of life’s most common stressors. CBT is also a very useful tool in more complex issues. In either instance, CBT is rarely used as a sole treatment option, but rather in combination with one or several other therapies.
CBT: Common Uses
There are several benefits of CBT, and the skills learned can be used in all areas of life. Here are just a few of the most common reasons therapists will use CBT with their clients.
Stress is often directly related to how we perceive, or think, about people or events. Working through the things that cause stress and learning how to recognize and deal with stress in more positive ways can lead to an overall reduction in stress and the symptoms that may result from excess stress.
Learn Coping Skills
One of the best uses of CBT is learning to cope with stressors that we face. These can be people, our own reactions, feelings, and even specific situations. Coping skills refer to a wide range of things that individuals use to deal with stressors, these can include controlled breathing, learning to communicate, and even listening. Coping skills are often the first tools that a CBT therapist will teach a client, so they have them in place as they face more difficult issues during therapy.
Gain Understanding of One’s Feelings
It is one thing to feel something, understanding the thoughts behind those feelings can be a very difficult process. CBT helps individuals to recognize, analyze, and sometimes alter the reasoning behind certain feelings to help gain a new, heightened understanding of oneself.
Provide Alternatives to Disruptive Thinking
Nagging thoughts, negative self-talk, bad tapes, these are all phrases used to describe that little voice that everyone has that often leads us to doubt our own thoughts and feelings. This second-guessing can have an impact on how we move throughout our lives. CBT works to disrupt that automatic negative thought pattern and replace it with alternative scripts. With practice, the new, more positive thoughts become a habit and help keep the negative thoughts from creeping in.
What Issues Can CBT Help?
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy can be used to help all kinds of issues, including ordinary thought processes, “normal” stress, as well as more complex mental health issues. Here are just a few of the issues that CBT has shown to work well for individuals seeking therapy.
Depression and Anxiety
All types of depression and anxiety disorders can benefit from CBT. These disorders are directly connected to individual thought processes. Negative thoughts can make depression and anxiety harder to face the day today. Learning how to combat those negative thoughts can be a big relief.
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
OCD is a thought-based disorder that causes an individual to have a consistent compulsive thought process that often has an impact on their ability to live life without significant distress. CBT gives OCD suffers a range of tools and skills to combat the compulsive actions and thoughts, and use positive thought processes to transform them into actions and thoughts that, hopefully, cause less distress.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
CBT is one of only a handful of therapeutic techniques found to be extremely successful with individual’s suffering from PTSD. Though often described as a difficult process, CBT helps individuals to confront the trauma and relearn ways of dealing with the trauma in more positive ways. While no treatment can promise a cure, CBT is probably the closest thing for PTSD suffers willingly to try.
CBT is just one tool in a therapist’s toolbox, a very powerful tool if used correctly. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, however, is not simply something the therapist does, it is a joint path involving active participation from a client in order to succeed.
If you struggle with any of these and would like to get relief, please set up an appointment today.
Joy Light, M.A., LMFTspecializes in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Gottman Couples Therapy because they are evidence-based practices and are effective at getting results. She helps clients think outside the box and envision a new way forward. Plus she teaches clients to build love, connection, romance and at the same time improve communication and resolve conflicts.