What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is used to help both adults and children understand the connection between their thoughts, feelings, and actions. As a neurobiological approach that helps to establish harmony between mind and body, CBT is a highly effective method for treating such issues as anxiety, panic, depression, compulsions or addictions, behavioral problems, and interpersonal conflict.
By helping individuals to slow down their thoughts, recognize their feelings, and ultimately slow down their reactions, a counselor trained in cognitive behavioral techniques can guide clients through the process of identifying negative and judgmental thoughts in order to reduce negative “self talk.” Counterproductive behaviors and actions can be reduced over time as feelings of sadness, anger, and distress decrease.
The Cognitive Behavioral Therapy model was established by Dr. Aaron T. Beck in the 1960s when he noticed that specifically his depressed clients had spontaneous, “automatic thoughts,” which created a negative view of themselves. The idea of studying thoughts in the context of psychotherapy was a relatively new concept at the time. However, Beck found that by helping clients change underlying belief systems about themselves, others, and the world in general, that CBT could provide long lasting results and real change.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy aims to focus on a client’s current life circumstances and reactions to stimuli rather than the past or childhood upbringing. While some background information may be essential in understanding the underlying symptoms that a client may be experiencing, cognitive therapy works to address how clients are responding to their environment based on their core beliefs at any given time. For that reason, CBT often incorporates mindfulness methods that emphasize the present moment. Clients may learn techniques such as deep breathing, stretching, guided imagery, or meditation to help them create more body and body awareness as well as teach them how to use more mindful language and slow down their thoughts and feelings. All of these techniques can help both children and adults actively choose more carefully how they would like to respond to their environment instead of being reactive.
Today, CBT is among the leading therapy methods for individuals suffering from anxiety, panic, depression, and or behavioral issues. It is commonly suggested by medical providers for children and adults as a compliment to traditional medical interventions for various conditions such as difficulty falling asleep or chronic pain.
How Does Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Work?
CBT breaks down negative thought patterns and replaces them with new ones by creating new connections and neural pathways in the brain. You or your child will learn to evaluate the reaction you have to yourself, your environment, and those around you, determining where and how thoughts are productive and helpful, and where and how they are not. From there, you or your child will determine the emotional, physical, and behavioral consequences of their particular cognitive framing and identify areas for improvement, all the while moving from unhelpful patterns to helpful ones over time.
A strict CBT therapist will work with a specific cognitive framing protocol to challenge you or your child to identify your distressing thoughts and reflect on the history of how your behaviors connect back to your belief systems. By focusing on the emotional and physical feelings that result from these thoughts, you or your child will gain more clarity as well as the ability to really slow them down, so that you will be able to interrupt yourself and intervene when your cognitive framing becomes unhelpful or counterproductive.
Mindfulness methods that are paired with CBT such as deep breathing, guided imagery, and progressive relaxation will help you or your child be better prepared to reduce impulsive actions and all or nothing thinking. Once you or your child gains more self awareness, you will be able to look back on how your behaviors connect together and be able to identify which ones are unhelpful and would be beneficial to change. As your new thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are established repeatedly you will become less likely to choose negative thoughts or outcomes in the future, resulting in a calmer life of more positivity and assurance.
Cognitive behavioral therapy can help you recognize your progress over time, allowing you to see where you have made improvements in your thinking and improved your reactions to unique life circumstances and relationships. Working on CBT techniques with your counselor can help you or your child to gain the self-esteem, perspective, and presence of mind to promote a successful, productive, and happy life.
Why Is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy So Highly Endorsed?
Decades of research have identified CBT as the “gold standard” of therapy with the ability to reduce anxiety, depression, insomnia, stress, phobias, and aggressive behaviors in clients. Other forms of behavioral therapy have been developed over the years by using CBT as a foundation and have proven to help desensitize traumatic memories in individuals coping with post traumatic stress disorder and emotional distress due to an adverse life experience.
At New Beginnings Psych, all of our therapists have a basic level of training in cognitive behavioral therapy and are prepared to use this approach based on the individual needs of each client. We have observed the benefits of cognitive reframing and behavioral adjustments that can be gained by incorporating cognitive behavioral techniques.
Those pesky negative thoughts and ideas about yourself can be challenged and transformed, and you can find relief from the inner critic that is driving your decisions. CBT is a proven, effective way to identify the relationship between your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors so that you can have a more positive life experience.
CBT Can Help You To Re-Establish Harmony Between Your Thoughts, Feelings, And Actions
If you or your child struggles with depression, anxiety, insomnia, phobia, addictions, or aggressive behavior, cognitive behavioral therapy at New Beginnings Psych can help you find clarity and a new way of thinking. For more information about what we can do for you or to schedule your first appointment, please contact us.