What is CBT?
Cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, is a therapeutic strategy used by therapists and patients to address issues of anxiety, depression, relational conflicts, or other problems.
CBT involves identifying patterns of thinking, feeling, and acting that may exacerbate the symptoms of diagnoses like anxiety or depression. The goal is to examine the unhelpful thoughts, feelings, or behaviors and replace them with other, more appropriate responses.
The graphic below represents the interactions between thoughts, feelings, and actions. As you can see, each one influences the others. So, for example, if an individual feels anxious, they may think anxiously or worry, which may then cause anxious behaviors. However, using CBT strategies can help individuals identify feelings of anxiety and consciously direct those anxious feelings into more positive, controllable thoughts and behaviors.
How Does CBT Work?
For most patients, CBT starts during a therapy session. Your therapist or counselor can teach you how to identify your own thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, and even the reason behind them.
You may share an example of a time you felt anxious or depressed with your therapist. In turn, they might ask you to reflect on what those feelings made you think, about the situation or about yourself, and how those thoughts and feelings made you act. Identifying your own thoughts, feelings, and actions is the first step to reshaping them.
Next, your therapist may prompt you to think about other ways you could respond when you're feeling anxious or depressed. What can you tell yourself instead? How can you reassure yourself? How could that change your actions?
Once you've done some practicing with your therapist, it's your turn to try out CBT in your everyday life. After you've learned to recognize how you're thinking, feeling, or acting, you can replace those thoughts, feelings, and actions that may be causing you harm, stress, or unhappiness.
Want to try CBT for yourself? Contact us to schedule an appointment.