Quick Overview of Cognitive Therapy – CBT
If you’re familiar with psychology, you’ve probably heard of the term “cognitive behavioral therapy,” or CBT, developed with the aim of changing the way people think about their problems.
With good CBT practices, people who struggle with depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress, and other life challenges can find relief from negative thinking patterns.
As part of my work as a counselor, I use mostly CBT techniques. This includes CBT offshoots, including Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, otherwise known as ACT.
All of them are solution focused and firmly centered in the present. It is for this reason CBT is considered a “here and now” therapy.
CBT is Strength and Skill-Based
CBT is strength-based in nature and allows you to draw upon your own internal resources to create meaningful change.
Additionally, CBT is also skill-based. In other words, you are taught skills that are designed to challenge unhealthy thinking patterns and apply them to real life.
Common uses of CBT
Cognitive therapy has a wide swath of applicability. It’s also firmly rooted in the clinical literature as one of the most effective approaches to wellness. You may be wondering what kinds of situations it can be applied to?
Here is a quick rundown:
- Negative thinking
- Phobias, panic and fear
- Excessive worry
- Confidence and self-esteem
- Unhealthy patterns of thinking
How I Use CBT
When you work with me, there’s a good chance I’ll be giving you some homework assignments. Examples include worksheets that are designed to look at your thoughts through the lens of logic.
An example might be giving you a thought recording worksheet.Other types of homework include taking your thoughts to court or gauging your anxiety levels using a self-reported stress scale.
Additional self-improvement activities may also be part of the dynamic, such as deep breathing exercises, dream work or keeping a thought modification journal.
Because the goal of CBT is to disrupt thinking distortions, reading assignments are sometimes given to guide you towards healthier ways of thinking.
Believe it or not, I may even pull in pop-culture by asking you to watch a movie. Some folks refer to this as cinema therapy. The idea is to step outside of yourself and assess the world through the eyes of entertainment.
Do you have a favorite actor, vocalist or entertainer? If so, there’s a good chance it will come up as part of our work together. All of these activities are designed to guide you to a place of change.
In this way, CBT offers real-world application while also allowing space for fun.
CBT is Goal Focused and Interactive
As you have probably already figured out, cognitive therapy is goal-focused. It’s the main reason I’ll ask you what you hope to achieve as part of our time together.
There are two reasons for this. First, I care about what you think. Second, it’s important to know your thoughts so that we can assess what is rational and what is not.
Example: Let’s say you describe some things that are going on in your head. If your thoughts are self-limiting, I’ll probably encourage you to think about the issue in different ways.
Yep, that’s right. CBT is all about confronting negative beliefs and dysfunctional patterns of thinking. Socratic questioning is part of it.
Here’s another example. Let’s say you are limiting yourself by the assumption that you aren’t very good at socializing with others.
A substitute thought might be, “I struggle in certain social situations, but that’s okay. I’m currently making progress towards my goal of becoming more social.”
CBT and Hypnotherapy
To help reinforce learning concepts, we may, if appropriate, engage in hypnotherapy. For example, if your goal is to become more confident, CBT can be applied to realign faulty thinking.
As a follow-up, hypnosis can be used to solidify learning concepts while teaching you new coping skills.
The operative word is “may” because hypnosis isn’t right for everyone. Much depends on what is going on in your life, your unique goals and openness to the process.
You can learn more about how I use hypnotherapy here.
CBT Wrap Up
Well, there you have it. A quick cook’s tour of CBT and how I use it as part of counseling and coaching. If you are looking for goal focused solutions that are centered in the here and now, it may be a good fit for your needs.
To learn more about CBT, here’s a link to the Beck Institute.
If you’d like to learn more about how CBT might benefit you, feel free to send me a confidential note on the contact page. You can also call me at 773.704.5300