Cognitive behavioral therapy or CBT studies the relationships between an individual’s thought process, his behaviors, and his feelings. Though it seems simple, this type of therapy is a little more complicated than it sounds. First and foremost, it must take a competent therapist and a committed client for CBT to produce the best results in achieving mental wellness. CBT is a regulated and structured type of treatment that has been proven to be very effective in curing mental health disorders, such as anxiety, depression, addiction, personality and eating disorders, and schizophrenia among others.
“CBT is a relatively brief, skills-focused treatment that has been shown to be effective for a wide variety of mental health issues, including anxiety, depression, anger, social skills deficits, and relational problems.” –Shelby Harris, PsyD, CBSM
The goal of CBT is for the patient to create an awareness about his unhealthy and negative thoughts, and for him to build realistic and more positive ways of thinking. Once this is achieved, the patient’s life will tremendously change for the better.
Making CBT Work For You
How can you get the most out of your cognitive therapy session? Here’s a list.
Choose Your Therapist Wisely
Before you decide to go into cognitive therapy, you need to choose a therapist that suits your needs. Check for qualifications, educational background, and license. It should be noted that not all therapists are a good fit for all clients. If you think you have chosen the wrong therapist on day 1, it is better to refuse to go into the second session and choose another therapist. But remember, “Experience and credentials are important, but it’s usually the personality of a therapist and the therapeutic rapport that develops between teen and therapist that is the most important factor of all.” Kathryn Rudlin, LCSW said.
Establish an open and honest working relationship
You are the best person who knows about your strengths and weaknesses. So if there are some techniques that you think are not helping you, then be honest with your therapist. Tell him what works and what doesn’t. If the therapist is committed to helping you, he will modify his techniques to your preference, or whichever will produce the best outcomes. You must also participate by following instructions and giving your effort and time to the therapy.
Once you’ve achieved these steps, then you will successfully see a few wins within one week, and then a few more in the next few weeks.
Let’s check out this example to get a clearer perspective of how CBT works.
Identifying A Goal
Patty (sample client), a 30-year-old female, is on her first day of therapy to alleviate depression and improve her well-being. She is also seeking professional help because she is often pessimistic and thinks that she is not worthy to live a good life.
Here, the therapist and client can set a specific goal, which could be that Patty hopes to become more positive about herself and her life.
Formulating Solutions Through Strategies
With this in mind, Patty’s therapist will find ways to explore behaviors, thoughts, and feelings that relate to this aspect.
Self-talk. The therapist can ask the client how she feels when she thinks about these negativities in her life, and what she wants to do about her self-esteem. She is also encouraged to speak what is in her mind at that moment. Some of the things she might say include: “I am so useless. I am unlovable.” Dr. Aaron Kaplan, PsyD, Clinical Psychologist often says, “Research shows that how you think about yourself can have a powerful effect on how you feel. Practice using words that promote feelings of self-worth and personal power. Give yourself a positive pep-talk.”
Challenging negative thought patterns. Patty’s therapist urges her to challenge her thoughts and to ask herself, “Am I really unlovable? Am I useless? Don’t I have abilities?”
Forming new and positive thoughts. Through the process, the therapist guides Patty into exploring her thoughts, allowing her to realize that nobody is not worth anything. “I am lovable and worthy. In this difficult time, I will survive.”
This process continues for a few weeks, regularly, until Patty feels that she is improving and finally ready to face her problems with her new and stronger self.
Getting the most out of cognitive behavioral therapy entails a commitment from the therapist and the client to do what is needed to achieve the goal, to be honest, and to be positive that there is always a solution to life’s difficult circumstances.