CBT- An Introduction to & How Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Can Work for You

by | Jan 24, 2023

Have you ever just had a problem you couldn’t solve and thought therapy might be for you? Have you ever heard of a therapy called CBT? Well, CBT stands for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and it just might be a solution to the problems that you are finding unsolvable. Are you finding yourself in an endless loop of negative thinking? Are you finding yourself constantly critiquing yourself at every turn? Do you spend nights worrying incessantly that you are doing the wrong thing and that things are doomed? Do you catastrophize or have black and white thinking? Well CBT may just be the relief you are looking for.

There are many types of issues that CBT can treat, including chronic pain, sleeping disorders, sexual dysfunction, anxiety, depression, and substance use just to name a few. The premise is that there are external triggers that “activate” negative thinking patterns and beliefs that ultimately lead to automatic assumptions which cause negative feelings and behaviors that end up causing people to self-sabotage themselves leading to misery and contentment of self. These feelings of guilt, self-blame, inadequacy, worthlessness, are so universal among many people and many don’t know how to get out of this endless negative perpetual cycle. Let CBT work for you!

CBT is a treatment that helps people to build life skills by helping them adaptively handle adversity/challenges that life throws their way. CBT is one way to effectively learn how to solve your own problems by learning and practicing new skill sets, which in turn will help you stay well long after your treatment is concluded. No need to continue treatment once you feel resolution in your skills.

CBT can help people assert more influence over their behaviors, thoughts and feelings to more positively solve the challenges of life. Some core components of CBT:

  1. Our reactions to the situations are what is the problem, not the situation itself. It’s in the way we handle ourselves and take on a challenge that determines to what degree the situation becomes the issue. A let-down from a friend, a blow-out with family, a break-up, a devastating blow in your career, all of which causes people to avoid putting themselves out in the “risk area” again, keeping them from living all because they want to avoid getting hurt again. This keeps people from living their true, authentic lives which can be ultimately fulfilled by trying CBT.
  2. Thoughts play a huge role in how we experience the world and how we deem the world to be. But feelings are not facts, although many would disagree. Life events and thoughts surrounding thoughts shape our experiences, but thoughts also mediate the relationships between our situations, feelings and behaviors. When things don’t go our way, it’s our determination whether it’s a huge setback that is permanent—or merely a puzzle to be challenged and solved.
  3. The way we think, and feel is also affected by our behavior. When we think certain thoughts, we may act a certain way, but the opposite is also true—when we act a particular way, we think about situations in which we may want to avoid due to self-defeating thoughts that are being reinforced. We end up believing them, giving them more credence than they deserve and strengthening those avoidant behaviors ultimately.
  4. Thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are continually influencing each other, and they are interrelated. Our thoughts tend to fall in line with those of emotions. Just one “bad” mood, and a “bad moment” turns into a “bad day”, which can ultimately turn into a “bad life” if one catastrophizes enough. All of the components work together to influence each other, and CBT can help you recognize which negative cognitive distortions you are ultimately feeding into to assist you in empowering yourself to get out of a negative mindset.
  5. Changing one component results in change in the other components. This is great news because the system can be used to our advantage. If we’ve been feeling depressed or anxious, small changes in thought/behavior can be tweaked to wrestle back influence over our moods in the long run. This is how CBT is taught. Through making small changes in your thoughts and behaviors, it leads ultimately to big changes in feelings.

Now what do I mean by Negative cognitive distortions? Have you ever felt these ways?

  • Ever thought everything was completely horrible and nothing was ever good enough? Or vice versa, everything was completely wonderful, and everything was completely fine! (All or nothing thinking)
  • Maybe you assume that you know what people think without having sufficient evidence of their thoughts. “They think I’m stupid.” Or “They think I’m a loser”. (Mind reading)
  • You believe that what has happened or will happen will be so awful and unbearable that you won’t be able to stand it. “It would be the end of the world if I fail!” – (Catastrophizing)
  • You interpret events in terms of how things should be, instead of focusing on what is. “I should be doing this better.” (Shoulds)
  • You focus on the other party as the source of your negative feelings and refuse to take accountability for any actions which you may have caused. “They’re to blame for me feeling the way I feel now!” (Blaming)
  • You ask series of questions about “What if?” something will happen and fail to be satisfied with the answers. (What if’s)
  • You attribute a massively disproportionate amount of blame to yourself for negative events, failing to see that events are also others’ contributions as well. (Personalizing)
  • You perceive everything as a global pattern of negative thinking due to a basis of one single incident. “This ALWAYS happens to me!” (Overgeneralizing)
  • You claim that the positive things you do are trivial, even though others see it and give you credit. (Discounting positives)
  • You predict the future in a negative way. “I will fail that exam” “I won’t get that job”. (Fortunetelling)

Did any of these statements relate to anything you’ve said to yourself? If so, you are NOT alone! CBT can help! It is highly indicated for those who are inclined to negative filtering their thoughts to a more positive frame of thinking. So, if you’re interested in learning more about how CBT can help you, find a good therapist who specializes in CBT. They would be the best fit for your needs.

You can better achieve your goals by making positive changes in your life all through the exercises utilized by your CBT therapist. Understanding how CBT works and with a CBT therapist can help you think differently about the problems in your life and the way to approach them with a shift in perspective. This can be a huge shift for you to where you don’t need to settle for negativistic or catastrophic thinking anymore to live a more fulfilling life—where you can be in control over your thoughts, feelings and behaviors.

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