What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, also known as CBT, is a type of psychotherapy. CBT helps to modify a person’s thought patterns which in turn help to change behaviors and moods. The basics of the idea are that negative feelings or actions result in distorted thoughts or beliefs.
CBT gives a blend of both behavioral and cognitive therapy. The cognitive side will focus on a person’s thoughts and moods. The behavioral side focuses on the behaviors and actions of the person.
When going through Cognitive Behavioral Therapy the therapist works with you to help identify any negative thought patterns you may have and the behavioral patterns or responses to the challenges and stresses you are facing.
The therapist will help you identify these things and then help you to develop a more constructive way of reacting to situations. It challenges the thought patterns or specific thoughts you may have and how you react to them.
One of the bonuses to CBT is that it doesn’t have to be done only with a therapist. You can practice what is learned outside of your therapy sessions. The more you practice what you work on with your therapist the easier it gets to do this on your own. The idea is that eventually you won’t need the therapist and can do this work on your own.
If you are in a situation where you cannot afford to see a therapist you can practice CBT online or through books. One excellent book to help with CBT practices is called Mind Over Mood. Not only will you find the information on CBT, how it works, and how to apply it, it is also a workbook to put what you are learning into use.
How CBT Helps
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is a short-term approach but can have long-term results. You will be able to identify your current thinking patterns and distorted perceptions that are leading to your depression or making your depression worse.
Keeping a journal while practicing CBT is always a good idea. In this journal, you will want to record events that arise during the day and your reactions. This will help in breaking down these thought patterns and reactions into different self-defeating thought patterns. Some of these include:
Jumping to Conclusions: This is jumping to a conclusion when we think that we know what another person is thinking. This also includes making predictions as to what we think is going to happen in the future.
Black and White Thinking: This is when we see only one extreme or another with no other possibilities.
Personalization: This is when you start to blame yourself for everything that is going wrong even if you are only partly responsible.
Overgeneralization: This is when you take one instance from the past and apply it to all present situations and future situations.
Working through a workbook such as Mind Over Mood, online or with a therapist can help you change these thought reactions. When we can change these thought patterns we can also change our behavior and how we react in different situations.
When we challenge the negative thoughts that we have, often times we can replace it with a different, more reasonable thought which then helps with behavior. One of the most helpful tools I found is the thought challenge. In this, you write down evidence that supports and doesn’t support the thought. Often times you will have a longer list of evidence that doesn’t support the thought. This allows you to change the thought into something more realistic and can help not only change the behavior but give some relief to your mood.