A 5-Minute Guide to CBT

Patients, therapists, and insurance companies often prefer Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). CBT is quicker to implement and see results than many other forms of psychological treatment, and it has an increasing body of research demonstrating it works.

One of the primary benefits of CBT is its ability to teach you how to be your own therapist. You learn to shape how you think and develop more effective coping skills. Remember, thoughts and emotions are private events (inner behaviors) that follow the rules of behavior.

In your sessions, you’ll identify distorted thought patterns and replace them with more realistic ones. As you become capable of changing your thinking (private events), your feelings (inner behaviors) become easier to manage, and your actions (behaviors) become more constructive.

To understand how working with a therapist or trying CBT on your own could help you to lead a happier and more productive life, study this quick guide to cognitive behavioral therapy.

Benefits of CBT:

  1. Treat depression and anxiety.
    CBT can be used to treat a variety of behavioral and mental disorders, which typically include depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and PTSD.
  2. Overcome addictions.
    CBT has been used to prevent relapses for those with addiction problems. CBT can be used to help build self-esteem (inner behaviors) and support healthier lifestyles (appropriate behaviors).
  3. Sleep well.
    CBT is often used to help treat sleep disorders. A defining difference between CBT and medication is that CBT works on addressing the root causes of insomnia without the risk of dangerous side effects.
  4. Strengthen relationships.
    Transforming how you think changes how you interact with others, and it can enhance your social and communication skills, opening a world of new opportunities. This allows for your new behaviors to be reinforced in new ways to help maintain them throughout your life.
  5. Achieve your goals.
    CBT, much like ABA, is for EVERYONE. You don’t need to be diagnosed with a mental or disorder. CBT is a helpful tool for personal development, whether you feel your life is in disarray or going fine. The principle of CBT can help you live more mindfully.

How to Use CBT:

  1. Find a therapist.
    A wide range of professionals can practice CBT, including nurses and general practitioners. If you want to work with a psychotherapist, ask your doctor for a referral or contact the psychological association in your state.
  2. Prepare for your appointment.
    CBT focuses on the present, but your therapist will need some history. Be ready to discuss any relevant medical conditions and childhood experiences. Start thinking about the issues you want to focus on and what you want to accomplish by receiving CBT.
  3. Do your homework.
    Your therapist is likely to give you assignments to do between sessions. This may include writing in a journal or practicing new responses to situations that you find aversive.
  4. Accept discomfort.
    You may experience unpleasant emotions (aversive inner behaviors) at first. This is natural and typically a constructive part of dealing with your fears and doubts (aversive inner behaviors). Remember, these private events still adhere to the rules of behavior.
  5. Read a book.
    Would you rather try using CBT on your own? Look for books recommended by trusted sources like the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies.

Other Tips:

  1. Take an active role.
    Your progress depends on your effort! Collaborate with your therapist in setting goals. Be honest and open in talking about your thoughts and feelings – as you are the only person who can describe and define them.
  2. Avoid shortcuts.
    CBT sounds straightforward and you may think that you know it already. However, results depend on taking a STRUCTURED approach and applying your knowledge CONSISTENTLY.
  3. Be patient.
    There’s a difference between being quick and being instant. New behaviors need time to be reinforced and grow into habits. Eventually, your new behaviors will feel natural and automatic.
  4. Review your progress.
    Talk to your therapist when you feel a lack of growth. Building habits can be easier when you have someone to talk to and help keep you accountable, plus they can help you be objective when you may benefit from a different approach. Remember, CBT can be combined and used with other treatments too.

Psychotherapy may be more affordable and accessible than you think! By using CBT, you can make progress with strategies you can use either at home or by working with a therapist on a schedule tailored to your needs.


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