Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Stress, Anxiety, Depression, Trauma, and (Dis)Ability
“Watch your thoughts, they become your words; watch your words, they become your actions; watch your actions, they become your habits; watch your habits, they become your character, watch your character, for it becomes you destiny.” – Lao Tzu
What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a short-term, problem-focused, and present-oriented treatment that helps you to understand the relationship between your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. With this understanding, you can free yourself from unhelpful thinking and behaviors that negatively affect the way you see yourself, others, and the world.
CBT is a scientifically validated counseling approach to treating a wide range of issues.
What can CBT help with?
- Stress (Coping with Stress and Life Transitions)
- Anxiety (Managing and Treating Anxiety Disorders)
- Obsessive compulsive disorders (OCD)
- Depression (Overcoming Depression)
- Bipolar disorders
- Substance use problems
- Persistent/chronic pain
- Sleep disorders
- Eating disorders
- Sexual issues
- Relationship problems
- Anger management
How does CBT Work?
CBT is based on the concept that your perception of events, not actual events, determines how you feel and act in response.
Core Principles of CBT
- Mental health issues develop and continue through irrational or inaccurate thinking patterns and unhelpful learned behaviors.
- Mental health issues may be reduced or eliminated by modifying those faulty thoughts and counter-productive actions.
Strategies to Change Faulty Thinking
- Learn how to recognize and challenge distorted thinking patterns that are creating your problems through reality-checking.
- Gain a better understanding of other people’s behaviors and motivations.
- Build problem-solving skills to help you manage difficult circumstances.
- Learn to develop greater self-confidence.
Strategies to Change Unhelpful Behavior
- Face your fears head-on rather than avoid them.
- Role play to prepare for challenging situations or potentially problematic interactions.
- Learn ways to relax your mind and body.
Some Specific CBT Techniques
- Journaling and thought records
- Journaling and thought records help you to be more aware of your thoughts, feelings, and actions. Doing so facilitates treatment and tracks changes toward your goals.
- Cognitive restructuring
- Cognitive restructuring involves taking a close look at your negative thoughts, identifying faulty or unhelpful ones (e.g., catastrophizing, overgeneralizing, disregarding the positives), and learning how to modify them to reflect reality. A healthier and more balanced perspective will positively affect your emotions and behaviors.
- Guided discovery
- Through guided discovery, which includes questions that challenge your beliefs and expand your thinking, you learn how to see things from others’ perspectives.
- Exposure therapy, also known as exposure and response prevention(ERP) and systematic desensitization
- Through ERP, you’re slowly and step-by-step exposed to what causes you anxiety with support to help you cope in the moment. Eventually, what you once feared no long causes you anxiety.
- Activity scheduling and behavioral activation
- Scheduling a task you want or have to do but have been avoiding out of dread or fear helps you to commit to your goal. Scheduling also helps you build good habits, especially helpful if you’ve been struggling to set or maintain healthy self-care routines.
- Behavior experiments
- Behavioral experiments are often used to treat anxiety, specifically addressing catastrophic thinking causing anxiety. You’re encouraged to repeatedly do something you are afraid of. Over time, you learn that the predicted catastrophic outcome of doing that activity is not likely to happen, and the related fear is reduced or eliminated.
- Relaxation and stress management skills
- Deep/diaphragmatic breathing exercises
- Progressive muscle relaxation
- Guided visualization/Imagery
- Role playing
- Improving problem-solving skills
- Gaining self-confidence
- Building social skills
- Practicing assertiveness skills
- Improving communication skills
- Learning conflict-resolution skills
- Successive approximation/shaping behavior
- Successive approximation or shaping involves taking an overwhelming task and breaking it down into smaller, concrete, realistic, achievable steps. This helps to improve your motivation as you’re more likely to do what feels more manageable. Each step completed gives you a sense of accomplishment, the confidence and energy to move on to the next step.
Not all interventions may be used to address your specific concern, but a combination of strategies and techniques tailored to your needs may significantly relieve your symptoms and improve your ability to function and experience joy in your life.
If you think you may benefit from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, please contact me today for a free consultation. I look forward to speaking with you about how I can help.