What Is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and How Does It Work?

If you’ve been exploring your options for therapy, chances are you’ve heard about cognitive behavioral therapy, and you’re interested in learning more. Read on and gain a better understanding of what cognitive behavioral therapy is and what it can do for you.

What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?

Cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, is a type of psychological treatment that can be immensely helpful as a supplement to other therapy or on its own. Cognitive behavioral therapy is generally administered in a one-on-one setting, and can happen in an office or via remote visits. CBT is versatile and can help to treat a variety of mental illnesses. CBT works best for people with depression, anxiety disorder, eating disorders, bipolar disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, PTSD, personality disorders, and phobias. That’s not the limit of what cognitive behavioral therapy can help with, but these conditions often respond well to this specific course of treatment.

Unlike other, more traditional forms of talk therapy, CBT is a bit more structured and regimented. CBT usually has a set number of sessions, meaning there is an end of treatment that’s in sight from the beginning. This can be helpful for many people who want to practice mindfulness and explore their mental health problems with less pressure. Knowing that your sessions are finite can reduce stress or worry, and people undergoing CBT are more likely to stick it out and follow the routine. For some, CBT can be emotional work. You’re often tasked with challenging ways you’ve always thought, and sometimes there’s homework. But cognitive behavioral therapy is a leader in the field of psychotherapy for a reason: it can really work.

How Does Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Work?

So what is the focus of cognitive behavioral therapy? Like we said before, it’s not incorrect to think of CBT as a series of lessons. But these lessons are based on self-discovery and your own specific needs. Cognitive behavioral therapy is based on the principle that psychological issues are rooted in learned behaviors and thought processes. To simplify, CBT makes you look at the way you react to triggers of your mental illness, and think about ways to cope with these unhealthy behaviors and thoughts. There’s no blame game to be played in cognitive behavioral therapy. The focus is not on determining who’s responsible for your mental illness, but rather how you can overcome it by using practical problem solving skills. Cognitive behavioral therapy often begins with a lesson on your specific condition. Learning a clinical diagnosis of what affects you can help you begin to look at your mental illness as a health problem, rather than a ‘you’ problem.

During CBT sessions, you should expect to be confronted with scenarios and thoughts that will challenge and upset you. Fortunately, therapists conduct these in controlled, safe settings where you’re able to roleplay and analyze your problems with a critical eye. Relaxation techniques, as well as stress management play a major role in some people’s CBT as well. The easiest way to recognize triggers and unhelpful or harmful thoughts and behaviors is to have calm as soon as possible. Being composed in the moment can make a stressful situation very manageable, especially once you’re armed with the tools that cognitive behavioral therapy is designed to give you.

Now that you know a bit more about cognitive behavioral therapy, you should have a better understanding of how it can help you. If you still want to learn more or think that CBT is the right option for you, give us a call at SOL Mental Health today, and schedule a consultation.

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