Cognitive-behavioral therapy, or CBT for short, is one of the leading ways to treat mental health issues. Focusing on the relationship between our thoughts and actions, CBT helps develop sustainable methods of maintaining mental health. Handel Behavioral Health offers CBT counselors, psychologists, and psychiatrists across Massachusetts in Amherst, West Springfield, Wilbraham, and Franklin. Reach out today to find a CBT therapist near you.
What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)?
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is a type of psychotherapy based on the direct interactions between our emotions, thoughts and behaviors. Adjustments to any one of these elements can affect change in another element. That is, how we think can affect our behavior. How we behave can affect our mood which, in turn, will influence our thoughts.
Our cognitions, or thoughts, emotions and behaviors create a cycle that, when influenced by negativity, can spiral us to depths of depression and anxiety. But if positive influences are introduced into this cycle, the result is hope, feeling of worth and an enhanced self image.
Changing our thought patterns from ones that promote helplessness to those that trigger actions can have a very positive impact on how we feel, think and act. This interconnection between these three processes can be conceptualized in the following diagram.
Who Needs Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?
Do you feel like you’re going nowhere in life? Do you blame yourself for your present situation? Do you believe you can’t get ahead because of personality flaws or just not being competent? Simple tasks that were easy to perform before now feel like major undertakings. As a result, you lose motivation, and your activity level decreases.
Or do you think about the same things over and over again, all with unfavorable results? Are your fears leaving you paralyzed and afraid to embrace all that life may offer you? Are you wondering if you will ever think or feel any differently? These may be signs of serious but treatable mental health issues such as depression and anxiety.
With CBT therapy for depression, anxiety and many other mental health problems, the good news is that you can change. The thought patterns that often dictate how we behave, with a corresponding impact on our mood, can be altered. But it takes practice and it often means getting the proper assistance we need. Help from a trained, professional therapist can help us to change our internal dialog from one that generates hopelessness, fears, and doubts to one that incentivizes us to have an effect on the world around us.
Therefore, a change in our thought patterns can lead to changes in behavior that will ultimately shape our mood and emotions from a sense of failure to one of accomplishment. From despair to hope. This is the type of change that can result from therapy conducted by a trained and skilled clinician. One evidence-based approach that therapists use to generate this type of transformation is Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT).
How does Cognitive Behavior Therapy work (CBT)?
During the CBT process, the therapist identifies faulty or unhealthy thought patterns that can be triggering symptoms of depression and anxiety in an individual. Then the clinician will train the individual in skills that will help them maintain healthy thought patterns leading to constructive and productive behaviors. When this is achieved in one area of a person’s life, the therapist will then help the client to generalize this approach to other areas of their lives. The process can be summarized in these phases:
- Evaluation or assessment,
- Cognitive restructuring,
- Skill development,
- Skill application,
- Generalizing treatment effects,
- Follow-up assessment.
These stages help the individual to have a better understanding of how their thoughts, emotions and behaviors are connected. With the help of a therapist, the individual will also discover how their current way of thinking may be contributing to behavior patterns that are actually perpetuating negative emotions such as anger, irritability, sadness, agitation, and discouragement that leads to anxiety and/or depression. These emotional states perpetuate feelings of hopelessness and helplessness.
These feelings diminish our self efficacy, or the belief that we can impact the world around us. A skilled therapist can use the CBT process to help an individual realize that they still can have a significant contribution to the world around them. This is done, first, by identifying those events that occur in our life that serve as triggers to negative thoughts, particularly internal dialogs, that are self-degrading. This type of thought significantly lowers our self efficacy, lowers our sense of accomplishment and adds to our downward emotional spirals.
The therapist works to reverse this cycle by helping us to change the way we think about ourselves and how we interact with the world around us. Practices are then trained and reinforced in session, such as relaxation exercises, that help lower our emotional arousal to a manageable level. When we are calmer, we are then able to learn skills or behaviors that can be used as coping mechanisms that we can implement when the triggers to depression and anxiety recur.
CBT can also be given along with other related forms of therapies such as:
- Relaxation Therapy
- Guided Imagery
- Acceptance and Commitment Therapy
- Cognitive Therapy
- Cognitive Processing Therapy
- Stress Inoculation
- Exposure Therapy
- Dialectical Behavior Therapy
What conditions can CBT treat?
Besides anxiety and depression, has been shown to effectively treat a number of other conditions and/or disorders including:
- Eating disorders and body dysmorphia,
- Substance abuse,
- Bipolar Disorder,
- Obsessive and Compulsive Disorder,
- Autistic Spectrum,
- Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD),
- Personality disorders,
- Impulse Control and Conduct Disorders, and
- Symptoms associated with trauma/PTSD
CBT addresses all these disorders by examining the setting events that trigger thoughts and emotions that, in turn, prompt various behaviors and symptoms of these disorders. The CBT process then helps identify alternative ways of thinking and responding to these setting events so that our self efficacy is not diminished but enhanced.
Getting Help through CBT at Handel Behavioral Health
The challenges and stressors of life can be very great and overwhelming at times. However, they become far more difficult when we try to go through them alone. When loneliness is compounded by the trials we experience, we can get trapped in a cycle of negative thoughts, maladaptive behaviors resulting in depressed and anxious moods. But with the help of a trained professional therapist, we can reverse the existing negative trends that affect our cognitions.
Effective coaching and counseling, with the trained specialists at HBH, using an evidence based approach, such as CBT, can improve the impact that we have on the world around us and lead us to a life that is fulfilling and rewarding. Contact us today and begin your recovery journey and find out if cognitive behavioral therapy is right for you.