Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Explained
By: 2SC Staff
The first part of understanding cognitive therapy is to understand what it entails. When you are in a depressive state, you naturally have negative thoughts. These negative thoughts can be toward a certain situation or even a person. These negative thoughts can often skew your sense of reality, which then throws your life into a tail spin.
These unhealthy thought patterns lead to negative behaviors. Cognitive therapy identifies the negative thinking cycle, enables you to learn new behaviors, and replace those negative behaviors. Here are just a few of the benefits of cognitive behavioral therapy.
1. Disassociation of Negative Thoughts
Cognitive behavioral therapy is based on the theory that it is not a singular event that is the stressor, but the actual way that you think about the event. For example, if you wake up in the morning and the first thing that you think is that nothing is going to go right, you may not get anything done. You won’t want to go to work; you may not even take care of your basic needs because you have essentially psyched yourself into thinking that you are going to have a bad day. This negative thought process often keeps you from seeing the positive things. This makes you feel even worse.
The first part of CBT is disassociating these negative thoughts. Some experts think that this dysfunctional assumption could become ingrained within a person’s thinking in early childhood. Once the negative way of thinking is identified, your therapist can help you step outside of this thinking gradually replacing it with something more productive to you and your life.
2. Enhance Your Self-Esteem
Your current dysfunctional assumption distorts self-esteem. You may think that you are a bad mother, a bad wife, a bad girlfriend, and an overall bad person. As you identify where the problems are stemming from, you will begin to correct your negative way of thinking. This negative thinking is deeply ingrained into your very personality by now.
It is important to note that it is not exactly about turning negative thoughts into positive thoughts, but it is more about being able to approach a situation realistically. As you do this, you will find that you start feeling better about yourself as a person.
3. Learning New and Positive Coping Skills
As you begin to feel better about yourself, it makes it easier to learn new coping skills. Instead of acting out negatively, you will learn new things. For example, if you binge on food when you get stressed and depressed, you may want to take those negative thoughts on with a long walk. There are many different things that you can do. You may even find a new hobby that you love.
CBT is about making changes that make life easier to live. Once you start to things that are productive for you, problems that once seemed terribly overwhelming seem completely manageable.
4. Continuity of Normal Life Activities
One of the great parts of cognitive behavioral therapy is that you can do it on an outpatient basis. This allows you to continue to go to work, school, and spend time with your family. You will attend regular sessions with your therapist and you may even receive “homework” for you to do between sessions.
The best thing about getting treatment on an outpatient basis is that you can apply the new things that you have learned in real time to the real world. It’s always a good thing to be able to get into the practice of it while maintaining the support of your therapist.
5. Gradually Ending the Therapy Process
Yet another plus of this type of therapy is that it is a gradual process. You will never feel that you are all of the sudden being kicked out of the nest and left in the woods alone. As you learn to cope better, your therapist may not feel the need to see you as often as was required in the beginning. This way you will still be able to track your process while getting the follow up help that you need.
If you are depressed, and have been for a while, cognitive behavioral therapy may be just what you need to get things turned around in your favor. The small changes that you make on a gradual basis can lead to a lifetime improvement.
A great resource that focuses on practical ways to use cognitive therapy in everyday situations is the CBT Skills Workbook by Gregory. The book helps to explain more on this type of therapy while offering concrete tools for reducing anxiety and coping with depression.
If you would like to learn more about how cognitive behavioral therapy may help you, give us a call at 773-528-1777 or send us a confidential note through our online contact form.