.The stigma attached to mental health care is fading, with 23% of Americans pursuing therapy or psychiatry in 2022 — that’s a 10% increase since 2004! Various forms of mental health therapy and treatment are available, so professionals tailor a plan for each patient. One of the most common forms of therapy is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or CBT. Find out more about this treatment and learn everything you need to know about how CBT can help you improve your mental health.
What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is one of the most effective forms of psychological treatment for various mental health conditions. CBT is used for people working through everything from clinical depression to anxiety to substance abuse problems. Multiple studies have concluded that CBT is incredibly effective at improving a person’s quality of life and helping individuals overcome mental health issues.
Goals of CBT
CBT aims to retrain negative thinking patterns into positive ones to produce positive behavioral outcomes. The overarching goal comes from the core principles upon which CBT is based. Among those core principles is the belief that most psychological issues are based on faulty thinking patterns. CBT practitioners also believe that mental health issues are based on learned patterns of behavior that are unhelpful. To help someone overcome their mental health issues, they must learn better coping methods.
CBT is not always meant to be a long-term therapy option. Practitioners of CBT hope to give their patients the skills they need to improve their thoughts and behaviors throughout the rest of their lives. There isn’t one specific length of time necessary for the therapy to be effective; however, each patient has unique needs and length of treatment required.
How CBT Works
The first step in CBT is for the therapist and patient to work together to identify the patient’s existing negative thinking patterns. Once those negative patterns are identified, the therapist teaches the patient the necessary tools to reframe those thoughts. This process is often known as cognitive restructuring and is based on the belief that thoughts and feelings influence our behaviors, ultimately affecting our outcomes.
When you’re stuck in negative thinking patterns, you get stuck in a negative cycle of behavior and outcomes. By changing the way you think about things, you can change your behavior and outcomes. For example, if you’re struggling with depression and have difficulty keeping your house clean, you might think you’re lazy or will never get the kitchen clean. If you reframe your thought pattern and think, “I’m not feeling well, but I can clean for 10 minutes,” you’ll see better outcomes.
In CBT, the thoughts that pop into your brain in response to a situation are known as automatic thoughts. They’re not always conscious or intentional, but they significantly impact your feelings. For example, suppose someone doesn’t call when they say they’re going to. In that case, your automatic thought might be that the person doesn’t care about you, and this is the thought pattern that should be reframed to something positive.
Underlying your automatic thoughts are assumptions you make about yourself, your value as a person, and how other people relate to you. These assumptions often come from life experiences you had as early as childhood. Another critical goal of CBT is to identify and change those underlying assumptions. By doing this, you can heal from lifelong trauma and live a happier life.
What to Expect During a Session
During your CBT sessions, you and your therapist will discuss your past and present life to help identify those thoughts and behaviors. On top of reframing your thought patterns, you’ll also learn how to understand other people’s behavior better. Instead of assuming that other people don’t like or care about you, your therapist will raise several plausible alternatives to motivate their behavior. If someone doesn’t call you, your therapist might ask if they could have had something come up that prevented them from calling.
More importantly, you’ll learn to face your fears instead of engaging in avoidant behavior. Your therapist may walk you through a role-play scenario to help you feel prepared to have difficult conversations. Finally, you’ll learn how to relax and not always be on guard.
Who Could Benefit from CBT?
One of the best things about CBT is that it helps many people deal with many different issues. CBT is beneficial for people who struggle with depression and anxiety. Cognitive Behavior Therapy is effective for people dealing with alcohol or drug abuse. Many people use CBT in coordination with psychiatric medication to produce better outcomes overall. The versatility of CBT makes it great for people dealing with even the most severe mental illnesses.
Take Control of Your Mental Health Today
If you feel like negative thinking patterns have taken control of your mental health, then CBT may be the right option for you. Not only can it help you retrain how you think about things, but it can give you a better outlook on life. There’s never been a better time to improve your mental health. Knowing that you’re not alone and have options is essential if you’re struggling with your mental health. Comprehensive Wellness Centers has intensive mental health programs that can help you get back on your feet. Contact us today to learn how we can help you.