All of our psychologists are highly specialized in the use of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) which is an evidence-based treatment for many psychological disorders.
What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)?
CBT is a type of approach to therapy that helps clients understand that the way they are perceiving things can affect how one feels and affect how one behaves. Through the use of CBT, clients will learn to step outside of their mind and observe how their mind defaults to perceiving situations and the world around them. Through CBT, they’ll be able to learn how to have a different relationship with their thoughts such that it fosters better mood and functioning.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) can take on many forms. Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) and Acceptance & Commitment Therapy (ACT) are also considered cognitive and behavioral in nature because they help clients learn to manage thoughts, feelings, and behaviors in a way that promotes psychological well-being.
Some core elements of cognitive therapy, specifically, include identifying core beliefs, automatic thoughts, and cognitive distortions. Cognitive therapy helps clients restructure unhelpful thought patterns in order to promote improved mood and functioning in the client’s day-to-day life and in their relationships.
Below are some examples of cognitive distortions. Do you ever fall into these types of thinking patterns? How does falling into these thought patterns typically make you feel? On a day-to-day basis, we often have automatic thoughts that pop up in our minds to make sense of our experiences. Sometimes they can be distorted and fall into the following patterns of thinking:
All or Nothing Thinking: Seeing things as either totally good or bad.
Overgeneralizing: Seeing a single event as a never-ending pattern of defeat.
Negative Filtering: Filtering out all the positive aspects of a situation and fixating/magnifying the negative aspects.
Mind Reading: Assuming someone is thinking something negative about you without knowing for sure.
Fortune Telling: Predicting the worst will happen.
Below are examples of core beliefs. Do you have any of these beliefs? Core beliefs are often formed at a young age through learned experiences or social or cultural environments. Core beliefs are beliefs that one holds about themselves and others.
- “I am unloveable”
- “People cannot be trusted”
- “I am not good enough”
- “I am a failure”
- “I am too needy”
In cognitive therapy, we often work on cognitive restructuring. This is the process of identifying automatic cognitive distortions or core beliefs, the situations that trigger them, the emotions that are felt, and then evaluating the evidence for and against the automatic thoughts and core beliefs. We practice creating alternative thought patterns or more helpful ways of thinking and then re-evaluate how the client feels emotionally once this process has been completed. We also evaluate how this change in thought pattern affects the client’s functioning.
The “behavioral” part of cognitive behavioral therapy:
Behavioral experiments are used in treatment to work on testing out situations that are tied to automatic thoughts, distorted thought patterns and core beliefs. For example, for someone who struggles with social anxiety and has the thought, “People will think I’m weird if I go up to them and start talking to them at the grocery store.” In the behavioral experiment, we practice having the client make small talk with employees and customers at the grocery store to see if it turns out to be just as bad as the client believes it to be. This is a form of exposure therapy which in essence is working towards engaging in behaviors that are typically avoided because of fear of the outcome or because of anxiety or negative experiences associated with the behavior in the past. Behavioral experiments and exposure therapy often help clients realize that their automatic assumptions, beliefs, and thoughts aren’t always true.
CBT has consistently been shown to be helpful in treating many psychological disorders. For more information or to make an appointment with one of our psychologists, please call 571-328-7408 x 0 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org