Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: What It Is And How It Works
Often, we confront situations that seem impossible to handle. Take for instance when you have an alcohol addiction problem. Deep inside, you want to come out of it, but feelings of fear envelop your thoughts. Eventually, you give up the fight and sink deeper into alcohol dependency. Are you grappling with self-defeating thoughts or know someone imprisoned in such a world? If so, perhaps you could try Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), an approach that helps discover what triggers defeat and how to change the same. Psychiatrists help patients undergoing depression to challenge negative thoughts and make them regain control.
How does CBT work?
To understand the psychology behind CBT, think of a time when you had a huge task to accomplish. How did you hack it? Perhaps you broke down the activity into smaller pieces that you tackled one at a time. CBT works on a similar premise by breaking every challenge into five areas: situations, thoughts, emotions, physical feelings and actions. These are interlinked, and one affects the other. For instance, the way you approach a drinking problem affects your feelings, and the way you act. However, unlike other forms of therapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy identifies the cause and provides solutions.
What disorders require Cognitive Behavior Therapy?
Some of the disorders that require CBT interventions include:
- Eating disorders
- Panic attacks
In CBT the focus is always on achieving some goals with measurable results. However, chances of success are high if you are ready to analyze your feelings and thoughts. Your therapist will assign homework from time to time, and you must be prepared to undertake the tasks.
Why the focus on negative thoughts?
Dealing with your thoughts boils down to the way you react to situations. By extension, your reaction depends on the way you think. Imagine that after years of marriage you are now contemplating divorce. Part of you brands you as a failure while another reminds you that you cannot sustain marital relationships. By following this path of negativity, you may soon begin to feel lonely, tired, depressed and hopeless. Moreover, you shut out your friends and avoid going to places where you can meet and make new friends. You are now trapped in a vicious cycle of negativity. However, you could turn the situation around by learning from the mistakes you made and look forward to an optimistic future.
What forms of therapy does CBT provide
An ideal example is the use of exposure therapy that experts highly recommended for people with the obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Under these circumstances, the best remedy is learning to face your fears. A therapist helps you find triggers to your feelings of anxiety. He or she makes you concentrate on the causes for an hour or two. By repeating the exercise three times daily, you begin to experience reduced exposure to anxiety. After that, you can now move to situations that you hitherto found intolerable. The process continues until you conquer all the causes.
How is a typical CBT session?
Depending on your preferences, you can opt for an individual or group session. The latter is an ideal choice since you interact with people facing situations similar to yours. Individual sittings last for between 30 minutes to an hour. You need around five to 20 weeks. You may opt to have therapy at a CBT specialist’s clinic or your home. During the first encounter, your healthcare professional will ask you a series of questions touching on your life and family background. He or she will also inquire whether your feelings of depression or anxiety affect your social, work or family life.
What transpires in the subsequent appointments?
Armed with your background information, your therapist helps you in separating the different aspects of your problems. You may have to write your behavior and thought patterns. A notebook or diary would come in handy; have one in your possession. After that phase, you now start analyzing your feelings and finding out their effects on the people you relate and interact with every day. Your therapist assists you in formulating ways to change every unhelpful mood and action. Once you have identified changes that you need, the next part involves practicing and infusing them into your life.
Is there a follow-up?
Once you have zeroed-in on feelings and behavioral aspects that you need to change, the healthcare professional will implore you to keep on finding thoughts that upset you. You must then replace the negative ones with those that seem helpful. Besides, you should also reach a point where you can be conscious of the point where you almost act in a way that leaves you feeling depressed. You then check your actions and proceed to engage in a useful activity. During follow-up sessions, you will discuss your progress. Part of this involves an assessment of the changes you have adopted for and how you felt afterwards. Skilled therapists give helpful suggestions along the way.
Can you have CBT online?
Yes, there are software programs developed for people who do not like sharing their feelings with a therapist physically. However, even while using such programs, interaction with a professional is still inevitable. There are many useful computer packages for CBT. Self-help therapy via computer helps when you are not sure of whether you need professional assistance. On the other hand, health problems could limit your mobility and constrain you indoors. Besides, online CBT is cheap and convenient. You can choose to undergo therapy privately from your home or wherever you find it suitable.
Cognitive behavior therapy works on the premise of breaking down feelings of negativity and replacing them with positivity. Past mistakes provide useful lessons that can help you turn around a deteriorating situation. CBT uses exposure therapy that requires you to bring out your afflictions. Sessions take place over several weeks with regular follow-up from a trained professional. If you like, you could begin by using online interactive computer programs before seeking help from a therapist. All in all, success emanates from an individual’s willingness.