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What’s Cognitive Behavioral Therapy? A Guide to Understanding and Practicing CBT

What’s cognitive behavioral therapy? Read on to understand its purpose, process, and how it can effectively help you heal from your symptoms.

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What's Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Used For?

What’s cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)? The core principles of CBT center around the interconnectedness of our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. If you change one, it has an impact on the others. For instance, changing a pattern of thinking can lead to changes in how you feel and behave.

CBT is typically a short-term, goal-oriented treatment. It involves working with a therapist to identify problematic thoughts and behaviors and to develop strategies to address the issues.

what's cognitive behavioral therapy

What’s Cognitive Behavioral Therapy’s Origins?

When people question “what’s cognitive behavioral therapy?”, they may also question the roots of the therapy as well. These can be traced back to the early 20th century. This therapy was mainly influenced by research on learning and conditioning of behavior.

In the 1960s, a new approach started to emerge. This was cognitive therapy, which focused on changing thoughts and mental processes. This approach was different from behavior therapy, as it recognized that thoughts could influence feelings and behavior.

Over time, the insights from cognitive and behavioral therapies were combined. This led to the development of cognitive behavioral therapy as we know it today.

Key Contributors to CBT

What’s cognitive behavioral therapy and its main influencers? There have been many contributors to the development of CBT, but two figures stand out.

The first is Albert Ellis. In the 1950s, Ellis developed Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT). This was one of the first types of cognitive therapy. REBT focuses on helping people identify and change irrational beliefs that cause emotional distress.

The second key contributor is Aaron T. Beck. Beck is often called the father of cognitive therapy. In the 1960s, he developed cognitive therapy as a way to treat depression. Beck’s work has been highly influential and his ideas create a major part of CBT.

How CBT Differs from Other Therapeutic Approaches

One of the distinguishing aspects of CBT is its focus on the present. While some therapies delve into the past to understand current problems, CBT concentrates on the here and now.

It looks at present thoughts and behaviors, even though it acknowledges that these may have been shaped by past experiences.

For example, if a person is struggling with anxiety or depression due to self-defeating beliefs they have formed in the past, such as thinking they are a failure, CBT would focus on how these thoughts are impacting their current behavior or emotions. It does this by helping them identify faulty thinking, exploring new perspectives, and developing skills to cope with stressors.

CBT's Active and Collaborative Nature

Another notable feature of CBT is that it’s active and collaborative. This means you and your therapist work together. You aren’t just talking about your problems.

Instead, you are learning skills, practicing them, and applying them to your daily life. This makes CBT different from therapies where the therapist is the expert and the person in therapy is the passive recipient of this expertise.

What’s Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and How Does It Help With Overall Health?

What’s cognitive behavioral therapy and its impact on mental health? This therapy can help with various mental health issues by changing unhelpful thoughts and behaviors.

What's Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Beneficial For In Terms Of Treatment?

Also, you may be wondering – what’s cognitive behavioral therapy used to treat? There are many mental health challenges that CBT can help with, including:1

Cognitive behavioral therapy is a versatile tool that can help with a wide range of mental health challenges.

Issues Addressed by Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

As stated above, there are multiple areas that CBT can help with. In more depth, these conditions include:

Anxiety and Panic Symptoms

Anxiety and panic symptoms can feel overwhelming. They can cause physical reactions like a racing heart, sweating, and shaking. These symptoms often come with scary thoughts, like the fear of losing control or even dying.

What’s cognitive behavioral therapy and its response to negative thinking patterns and cognitive distortions? In CBT, the goal is to break down these overwhelming symptoms into smaller, more manageable parts.

You’ll learn how to separate the physical feelings from the scary thoughts. You’ll also practice responding to each part separately, making the whole experience less overwhelming.

Negative Thinking Patterns and Cognitive Distortions

These are ways of thinking that aren’t based on reality. They’re often automatic and can make you feel worse about yourself and the world around you.

In CBT, you’ll learn to identify these distorted thoughts and to challenge them. You’ll practice replacing them with more accurate and helpful thoughts. Over time, this can reduce your negative feelings and improve your mood.

Maladaptive Behaviors

Maladaptive behaviors and habits are actions that cause problems in your life. They may provide temporary relief but can harm you in the long run.

What’s cognitive behavioral therapy and its strategy for maladaptive behaviors and habits? CBT can help you understand how they’re maintained and how to replace them with healthier alternatives. This can lead to lasting improvements in your life.

Emotional Regulation and Coping Skills

Emotional regulation is the ability to manage your emotional responses to experiences. It can be hard to do this if you’re feeling overwhelmed, stressed, or upset. Coping skills are the strategies you use to deal with difficult or stressful situations.

In CBT, you’ll learn different techniques for regulating your emotions and improving your coping skills. These might include deep breathing exercises, progressive muscle relaxation, and mindfulness techniques.

Interpersonal Problems and Relationship Issues

Interpersonal problems and relationship issues can cause a lot of stress and unhappiness. They often come from poor communication, unrealistic expectations, or unmet needs.

What’s cognitive behavioral therapy and its strategy for interpersonal problems and relationship issues? CBT offers new ways to communicate and solve problems in your relationships. You might practice assertiveness, active listening, and conflict-resolution skills.

What’s Cognitive Behavioral Therapy’s Main Benefits?

Many research studies support the effectiveness of CBT in helping people with different mental health issues. These can be anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and others.1

People with anxiety and depression often show more improvement with CBT than with other therapies.2

CBT also has been shown to have several distinct advantages over other methods of treatment. Notably, CBT treatments tend to be of shorter duration, and the results are more enduring than those of other treatment methods.3

What's Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Like Compared to Other Treatments?

When compared with antidepressants, research shows that CBT appears to be equally as effective. However, unlike with medication, as CBT does not carry the same risks of side effects.4

CBT is also frequently used in conjunction with other treatments, such as medication and other psychotherapy. This combination of treatments allows the patient to benefit from a more comprehensive approach to their condition.5

What’s Cognitive Behavioral Therapy’s Process?

CBT begins with an assessment. This is where you and the therapist talk about your concerns and set goals. The therapist will ask you questions to understand your situation better.

Collaborative Treatment Planning

Once the assessment is complete, the therapist will work with you to develop a plan that includes specific strategies and techniques for addressing your difficulties.

This collaborative approach helps empower you in the process of change, as the treatment is tailored to your individual needs and goals.

Monitoring Progress and Evaluating Outcomes

Throughout your therapy, you and the therapist will check how you’re doing. The evaluation may include self-report measures, such as questionnaires or rating scales, as well as observation from your therapist.

If treatment is not successful, your therapist will discuss options for changing or supplementing your plan.

In some cases, referral to a different professional may be appropriate. Other times, your progress might indicate that you’re ready to transition to other forms of support, such as coaching or self-help strategies.

Techniques Used in CBT

CBT typically involves teaching the client practical skills that can be applied to everyday life.

Cognitive Restructuring

Cognitive restructuring is about changing how you think. It’s like learning a new way to understand your thoughts. The therapist will help you identify negative thoughts. You’ll then learn how to replace these thoughts with ones that make you feel better.

Behavioral Experiments

Behavioral experiments are activities that help you test your thoughts and work through past issues. For example, if you have difficulty making friends, you might try joining a club to meet new people.

Mindfulness and Relaxation Techniques

These techniques help you stay calm and focused. You might learn breathing exercises or meditation. These techniques can help you feel more relaxed and in control of your thoughts and feelings.

Problem-Solving Skills Training

This technique teaches you how to deal with problems. You’ll learn steps to identify a problem, think of possible solutions, pick the best one, and put it into action. This can help you feel more confident in handling difficulties that come your way.

What to Expect from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

What’s cognitive behavioral therapy and its therapist-patient relationship? In CBT, you and the therapist form a team.

You share your experiences, and the therapist listens and guides you. The therapist respects your feelings and thoughts. You’re not alone in the process; you have support.

Active Participation and Homework Assignments

CBT is a hands-on therapy. You don’t just talk about your problems; you also work on them. This might involve doing exercises during the session or as homework.

For example, if you’re learning to control your anger, you might keep a diary of times when you feel angry. This helps you understand your feelings better.

Challenges and Potential Risks of CBT

CBT is not always easy. It requires effort and patience. You might feel uncomfortable at times, as you confront thoughts and feelings you’d rather avoid. You might also feel awkward or reluctant to try new behaviors.

In some cases, CBT can make you feel worse before you start feeling better. You might experience frustration, sadness, or anxiety as you work through your thoughts and behaviors.

In rare cases, CBT could cause a mental health crisis, especially if you have underlying mental health conditions. If your therapist notices signs of distress, they will adjust the approach to meet your needs and help you stay safe.

Strategies for Maintaining Progress after CBT

What’s cognitive behavioral therapy’s strategies for maintaining progress? Once your therapy ends, you can still practice what you’ve learned. You might continue doing exercises, like breathing techniques or writing in a journal. This can help you keep the progress you’ve made.

Regular practice can make the techniques a part of your everyday life. If you face difficulties, you can always return to your therapist for help.

what's cognitive behavioral therapy

What's Cognitive Behavioral Therapy's Typical Treatment Timeline?

CBT isn’t a long-term treatment. It’s designed to help you during a short period of time. These sessions typically last about 50 minutes each and continue for 5 to 20 weeks. This can vary based on your situation and the specific issues you’re working on.

Factors Influencing the Duration of CBT

The length of your therapy depends on several factors. Your personal goals, the nature of your problems, and how long you’ve been dealing with them can all affect how many sessions you need. Your therapist will discuss these factors with you and help you plan your therapy.

Accessibility and Insurance Coverage for CBT

You can find CBT therapists in many places. They work in treatment centers, hospitals, and private practices. Some also offer online sessions. As for the cost, many insurance plans cover CBT. If you have health insurance, you can check with your provider to see if CBT is included in your coverage.

In general, CBT is an affordable form of therapy. You may have to pay out-of-pocket for some sessions, but that cost could be lower than traditional therapy.

Boardwalk Recovery and How We Can Help

If you or a loved one are thinking about cognitive behavioral therapy, reach out to Boardwalk Recovery today.

We will implement cognitive behavioral therapy into your personalized treatment plan depending on your symptoms and other needs. We also offer medication-assisted therapy, trauma-informed care, and many other types of support.

Get in Touch Today

Boardwalk Recovery is here to help you every step of the way. Our compassionate staff will ensure that you can heal as holistically and wholly as possible. Get in touch with our team today.
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