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CBT is “cognitive behavioral therapy.” Recent studies indicate that it just may be the most effective form of psychotherapy currently in practice. Writing for Healthline, Crystal Raypole says that “CBT aims to help you identify and explore the ways your emotions and thoughts can affect your actions. Once you notice these patterns, you can begin learning to reframe your thoughts in a more positive and helpful way. Unlike many other therapy approaches, CBT doesn’t focus much on talking about your past.”
The basic premise of CBT is simple and logical. It begins with the idea that there’s a direct connection between your thoughts, emotions and actions. In particular, psychologists who practice CBT recognize that negative thinking can lead to psychological problems, and patterns of negative behavior can lead to other problems. Most important, research and experience show that people can learn ways to cope with their problems and consequently relieve symptoms.
CBT has proven valuable to help with mental health conditions, including depression, eating disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety and others. But for many people, the good news is that CBT can also help with other issues that don’t involve mental health conditions, such as dealing with divorce, grief or insomnia.
Raypole, in her article on Healthline, illustrates a variety of instances in which CBT could be beneficial.
Relationship issues. You suspect your partner may be considering ending your relationship but you’re afraid to express your suspicion. The answer might be, if you’re working with a therapist using CBT, role playing a conversation where you raise the issue, and practice varied outcomes.
Anxiety. Suppose you’ve had mild anxiety for years, but it’s gotten worse lately because you’re worried about losing your job. Using CBT, you might make two lists — one with reasons you might get fired and one with reasons you’re likely to keep your job. You would then keep track of negative thoughts that come up while you’re at work. Through therapy, you might begin to recognize that your real fear is of not being good enough at your job, and the solution is to practice various positive reinforcement techniques.
PTSD. In a dramatic example, Raypole imagines a person who survived a car crash, but a close friend died in the crash. For a year, simply getting into a car triggers PTS. CBT would involve admitting the validity of the fear and stress involved in driving or riding in a car, but would also rationally and calmly looking at statistics involving accidents. A therapist utilizing CBT would then teach relaxation and grounding techniques to counter the fear and stress.
One things t keep in mind about CBT is that it’s more about coping than curing. Some mental health issues require an entirely different approach. Also, results using CBT take time. If you think CBT might be right for a particular issue you’re facing, read the full Healthline article here, or give me a call. I’d be happy to discuss various approaches to therapy with you.