What Is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?

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Cognitive behavioral therapy is a mental health treatment that has been proven to effectively treat a variety of mental health conditions. Cognitive behavioral therapy, also called CBT, looks at how unhelpful thoughts are negatively impacting your mood and behaviors. For example; how we interpret our environment change when we are depressed or anxious. Everyday words or actions by others can go through a filter determined by our state of mind and can exacerbate any depression and or anxiety, further increasing our negative mood. Cognitive behavioral therapy helps you identify your unhelpful thoughts to begin making change. CBT, however, is NOT positive thinking. Simply thinking positively about an otherwise unpleasant situation does not change your mood because there is no buy-in from you. You do not believe the new thought, and as a result your mood does not improve. However, CBT does help you look at the situation differently by modifying your unhelpful thoughts. In addition to focusing on your thoughts, CBT also helps improve your behaviors. When experiencing a mental illness event, you may experience trouble sleeping, encounter problems with appetite, or isolation. When engaged in CBT you will identify behaviors that have shown to be problematic for you, and together you and your therapist will work on how to change those behaviors through techniques such as behavioral activation, sleep training, or relaxation techniques.


Who Can Benefit From Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?


Anyone can benefit from receiving of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. CBT has been shown to be effective in treating a variety of mental health conditions.


Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Treatment Process


CBT can effectively treat a variety of mental health conditions and symptoms. When you attend your first appointment, your therapist will discuss areas you identified needing assistance with and what your treatment and goals are. A treatment plan will be developed collaboratively with you by your therapist, based on your symptoms and goals. Future treatment sessions will be guided by your treatment plan.


One important component of CBT is the application of at-home assignments. The goal of the home assignments is to allow you to learn and apply a technique from your appointment and integrate it into your everyday life. Treatment with CBT can be successful in only a few months as a result of the at-home assignments. Most people do not want to continue to come to treatment as the sole way of feeling better. When you can apply the techniques at home, your time needed for therapy appointments becomes reduced. You will notice an increase in mood and decrease in problematic symptoms once your treatment goals are met, and you demonstrate the ability and desire to engage your new techniques at home with minimal guidance.

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