Life can be overwhelming, sometimes. With such a fast pace being the reality for most of us, it can be challenging to comprehend what is fully going on. This can result in unwanted thought processes and disturbing behavior patterns originally brought about as a means of survival, which can in turn be debilitating. Cognitive-behavioral therapy or CBT is a form of psychotherapy that helps individuals identify the thought patterns that negatively impact one’s behavioral and emotional well-being. Besides identification, cognitive behavioral therapy challenges and defies the negative thoughts and replaces them with realistic and objective ones.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy is proven to work and benefit. It helps to reduce stress, cope with relationship troubles, and grief. But is it for everyone? Do everyday worries merit the treatment? Read on to know more.
What Is The Deal With Cognitive Based Therapy?
CBT is a specific psycho-social therapy that gyrates around an individual’s thoughts, feelings and beliefs and pinpoints how they change one’s attitude and behavior. CBT does not target every viewpoint that goes into anyone’s mind. It only caters to people who modify behaviors into negative and disturbing attitudes.
Here are some details that can help explain CBT better:
- Cognitive Based Therapy is a collaborative therapy in which the therapist trains the patients to become their own counselors
- CBT is specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-limited. Depending upon the patient’s need, the therapist may call for one-to-one, group, or family therapy
- The end of the therapy is a conjoint decision made by the patient and the counselor
- CBT involves teaching self-counseling skills in which the patient gets assignments and homework to think and act better despite opposing situations
- Since Cognitive based therapy relies on rational self-counseling skills, the therapist instigates the patient to think about how things can be done rather than telling them what to do. The protocol is structured and directive6. Contrary to layman belief, CBT is not talk therapy. Instead, its basis lies in the scientifically-supported theory that emotions and behaviors are learned and acquired. The goal of CBT is to unlearn unwanted reactions and learn new responses to unpleasant situations. It remains an educational model
- CBT makes use of techniques that employ inductive methods. For example, rational thinking is based on facts, while random thought is just a hypothesis. Inductive methods accommodate questioning and testing these hypotheses. The view, if proved wrong, can sync the fact with reality and changed behavior
Cognitive Based Therapy can positively impact how people feel, think, and act and equip them with coping strategies that help them deal with life challenges. These may include the management of conditions like panic attacks, simple anxiety, phobias, depression and even chronic pain.
Who Is Eligible For CBT?
CBT is not a novice therapeutic approach. It was originally devised to treat depression. The present-day therapeutic module utilizes CBT to treat many conditions. Some of these include:
- substance abuse
- schizophrenia and other psychotic conditions
- depression and dysthymia
- bipolar disorder
- anxiety disorders
- somatoform disorders like illness anxiety disorder, conversion disorder, etc.
- eating disorders as anorexia, bulimia nervosa
- insomnia and sleep disturbances
- personality disorders
- anger and aggression
- criminal tendencies and behaviors
- general stress and strain
- post-traumatic stress disorder
- obsessive-compulsive disorder
- relationship difficulties as breakups or divorce
- low self-esteem
- suffering and distress related to disease and infirmity
- chronic pain and fatigue
- distress associated with complications of pregnancy
- complexities of female hormonal conditions
The Modus Operandi Of CBT
Let us explain how cognitive behavior therapy works by considering the example of depression or an anxiety disorder. For a person suffering from depression or anxiety, how they perceive and interpret a situation becomes distorted. This inculcates in them the following:
- A negative outlook on everything
- Quick to assume and conclude
- Taking situations as devastating and appalling
- Considering everything as either black or white with no grey in-between
By learning how to reason and judge the situation based on facts rather than assumptions, individuals with depression can change their outlook for the better. They acquire skills for maintaining a problem-solving attitude. Such an individual becomes more in control and cuts back the stress and stirs a positive and happy mood. CBT includes several therapeutic protocols. A counselor or therapist takes the route that best suits a patient. These include:
- Cognitive streamlining involves identification of the problem and realigning of the thoughts
- Guided discovery in which the therapist tests the patient’s beliefs and assumptions by questioning and challenging them
- Exposure therapy includes exposure to fears or phobias
- Writing and recording thoughts and expressions
- Scheduling the activity and decision making to act on it – this includes the when, where and how
- Behavioral experiments to erase the supposed catastrophic outcomes in patients with anxiety disorders
- Relaxation techniques as deep breathing exercises, imagery and relaxation
- Role-playing possible scenarios to work through and learn different behaviors
- Sequential task upgrade by taking baby steps to achieve seemingly tricky or impossible jobs
It is important to remember that CBT is not a risky protocol, but it may be uncomfortable or stressful for some people. Confronting and changing oneself is the most challenging task and it requires willingness and commitment. Individuals going through CBT may have problems they are dealing with, but they surely are the courageous ones to take on such therapy sessions as a way to improve life for the better.