How CBT Works: From Thought to Behavior
Cognitive behavioral therapy is an action-oriented form of therapy that shifts people from the role of client to therapist. How does CBT work exactly?
Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a staple form of talk therapy used across the country but do you know how CBT works? It might seem strange that a simple form of verbal therapy could help people with serious mental illnesses. But cognitive behavioral therapy isn’t just sitting in a therapist’s office and “talking about your feelings.”
Therapists and their clients dive into intensive topics during sessions to identify key patterns that lead to harmful or destructive behaviors. Over time, CBT has the potential to lead to massive changes in a person’s ability to function, leading to a better quality of life.
If you’re curious about cognitive behavioral therapy this article will offer more insight on how CBT works. Do you think it might be helpful for you or someone you know? Continue reading to learn more about cognitive behavioral therapy and how it helps learn to live with their mental illnesses.
How CBT Works to Heal
Cognitive-behavioral therapy came to be in the 1960s and 1970s as an off-shoot of behavioral therapy. It shifted the idea that cognitions, or thoughts, played only a minor role in the way people behave. Instead, CBT operates on the understanding that thoughts have a direct impact on the actions people decide to take.
If thoughts directly affect a person’s behavior, then changing the way a person thinks should also change the way they behave. This is exactly how CBT works. The goal of using this method of therapy is to change any thoughts that lead to negative behaviors. When a person can interrupt or replace their negativity they’ll experience a complete change in their life.
Many people think therapy focuses on childhood issues and how a person feels about their parents. While the role of parents and childhood plays into the way you behave as an adult, that doesn’t look at the entirety of the puzzle. CBT understands how patterns of thinking develop over time, from the time we were children to the difficult day you had yesterday.
Therapists take in as much information as possible when working with their clients. They focus on specific disordered patterns of thinking their clients have about themselves, their self-worth, or the world around them. They identify these negative thoughts and help clients find ways to catch them and change them before they take hold.
When CBT is Useful
CBT works through the negative thoughts that shift from dysfunctional assumptions to automatic thoughts. People with automatic negative thoughts make sweeping conclusions about their worth as an individual and their abilities to do well. If they assume they’re going to fail before they even begin, why would they want to start in the first place?
Cognitive-behavioral therapy is an incredibly versatile form of therapy. Therapists see benefits with it when treating people with depression, anxiety, eating disorders, addiction, gambling problems, and more. If the source of much of our negative behaviors stems from our negative thoughts, it makes sense how CBT works.
It doesn’t exactly treat mental illnesses as a whole issue but it tackles individual aspects that a person struggles with. Therapists employ the use of cognitive-behavioral therapy when a person comes in with a problem they want to work through. They establish short-term goals that clients can accomplish with the help and support of their therapy sessions.
People begin working with their therapist with a goal in mind that they want to accomplish. They work to identify the thought patterns holding them back from achieving that goal. Together the client and their therapist address and interrupt these automatic thoughts and their behavior changes over time as a result.
Inside a Session: How CBT Works
Each CBT session remains very goal-oriented. Therapists start by gathering as much necessary information about the person as possible. If they haven’t worked with the client before, they’ll ask a wide range of questions to get an understanding of how the person operates. They start looking for harmful thought and behavior patterns from the very beginning.
After the therapist has a solid understanding of how their client operates, they start helping them identify these patterns. Together, the client and their therapist start employing strategies to shift away from negative automatic thoughts. Clients learn to recognize their false beliefs as they occur in the moment. Then they decide whether it’s a true, useful thought or one to discard.
Then the true power of how CBT works comes into play. Once a client starts realizing and questioning their automatic false thoughts, they develop more autonomy. Therapists equip their clients with problem-solving skills to work through challenging situations that arise. Clients start developing self-confidence as they realize they have the ability to cope with these challenges.
Therapists also encourage clients to face things that they once feared, such as difficult conversations or large social situations. Clients learn techniques and skills to cope with any physical responses due to anxiety. The more a client discovers they can face and work through each situation, the more confident they feel. This is exactly how CBT works.
Finding a Cognitive Behavioral Therapist for You
Cognitive-behavioral therapy is praised for its relatively quick effects. Therapists and clients can work through an identified problem in anywhere between five to ten months. CBT is also one of the most widely-practiced forms of therapy, making it rather easily accessible.
The best way to find a therapist is to first compile a list to call and screen before scheduling an introductory session. You can call your insurance company to receive a list of therapists that work within your policy. Call and speak with a few before making a selection to sit for a session.
If you struggle with a more invasive disorder that impacts your ability to function, a more intensive form of treatment might be necessary. Inpatient facilities offer a calm, structured environment where you can focus entirely on working through your mental illness. Hawaii Island Recovery is one of these types of facilities.
We foster a small, secure environment where clients learn to develop confidence in their true abilities. Our all-encompassing treatment plans combine individual and group therapy, holistic methods, food and wellness, and exciting activities. Your focus remains on recovery while learning to have fun as you heal.
Want to learn more? Give us a call at 877-721-3556 to speak with an admissions counselor today!