Many therapists today use cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to help patients. The idea behind CBT is that our thoughts affect our feelings and behaviors. CBT aims to help people identify unhelpful thoughts and cognitive distortions that contribute to mental health issues. The therapist then works with the client to challenge these irrational beliefs and replace them with more realistic and helpful thoughts.
CBT also focuses on behavior, helping the client learn new skills and new ways of responding to challenges. CBT interventions may include keeping thought records, behavioral experiments, problem-solving techniques, exposure therapy, and activity scheduling. When should a person seek Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Services in Irvine?
What Conditions Can CBT Help?
- Anxiety disorders
- Eating disorders
- Sleep disorders
- Anger issues
- Relationship problems
How CBT Differs From Psychoanalysis
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) focuses on how a person’s thoughts, beliefs, and attitudes affect their feelings and behaviors. Unlike psychoanalysis, CBT focuses directly on a client’s current issues and challenges. CBT aims to help clients identify and change dysfunctional thinking patterns and behaviors in the present moment.
Understanding Cognitive Distortions
CBT therapists believe that many emotional and behavioral problems are rooted in cognitive distortions or inaccurate or unhelpful ways of thinking. By becoming aware of these thought patterns and consciously shifting them, clients feel and act differently. CBT introduces clients to tools like cognitive restructuring and behavioral activation that can create positive change in the here and now.
Rather than revisiting past trauma, CBT emphasizes clients’ current abilities to make different choices. CBT creates a partnership between the therapist and the client to target current problems with practical solutions. The emphasis on the present aligns with CBT’s action-oriented approach to create positive changes in thinking and behavior starting today.
What To Expect During Sessions
CBT typically takes 5-20 sessions, with a therapist trained in CBT. Treatment often involves homework the patient is expected to complete between sessions. The homework might be as straightforward as keeping a journal tracking behaviors, thoughts, and feelings in response to events. The therapist and patient work together as a team toward shared goals.
The Treatment Approach
Treatment follows a structured approach:
- Identify troubling situations or conditions in the patient’s life.
- Identify thoughts, emotions, physical feelings, and behaviors that accompany these situations.
- Examine the evidence for and against the troubling thought patterns.
- Recognize distorted thinking and begin reshaping the patient’s outlook.
- Practice replacing flawed beliefs with more realistic, positive attitudes.
CBT helps patients recognize beliefs that are distorted and ways their thinking is unbalanced. For example, someone who excessively worries about other’s opinions but disregards their own needs is displaying black-and-white thinking. CBT helps them adopt more realistic, nuanced views. The therapy also helps patients identify upsetting situations and find new ways to view and respond to them.
CBT puts strategies directly into daily practice. If anger is an issue, a diary might be used to track overwhelming feelings and triggering events. Through discussion, the therapist and patient uncover irrational beliefs leading to anger. They could role-play more reasonable responses to frustrating events. A patient might get homework to practice calming exercises when anger arises at home. CBT applies effort toward practicing and embedding new habits.
CBT is a focused treatment that produces results relatively quickly. For some psychiatric conditions such as phobias or alcoholism, it can provide lasting change in a matter of months. Other conditions like depression may have a higher rate of recurrence and require intermittent CBT sessions over time. CBT gives patients tools to manage problems on their own, providing relief long after therapy ends.
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