Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is one of the cornerstones of treatment for many kinds of people. This type of therapy is incredibly useful in treating a wide array of mental health disorders. Because of how flexible and useful it is, CBT is used in conjunction with other types of treatment, such as the prescribing of medication and neurofeedback therapy. This results in many people understanding and confronting the root of their problems, helping them to achieve recovery.
However, unless you are already part of the mental health field, you might not even know what CBT is or how it works. Below is a simple guide to what CBT is, how it can help someone, and some of the disorders it is used to treat.
What Is Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy?
CBT is a type of psychotherapy. This is also known as talk therapy. The point of this therapy is to help people change and recognize unhelpful behaviors that are negatively impacting their lives. CBT focuses on the current life of the patient. If the patient wishes to address their past, they may explore other kinds of psychotherapy to help them do so.
The main goal of CBT is to help someone recognize unhealthy behavior and change them for the better. At the end of the treatment, a patient should learn how to act as their inner therapist. This means examining their behaviors and understanding why they may be healthy or unhealthy. It also lets the patient use the skills they learned in therapy to deal with said behaviors. Think of it like going back to school. Except here, you learn how to regulate your emotions and behaviors in a healthy way instead of math.
Goals of CBT
The goal of CBT therapy is to:
- Identify current unhealthy thinking and behavioral patterns
- Learn coping skills and strategies to change problematic behavior and thought
- Teach the patient to self-analyze and recognize problematic behaviors and thoughts on their own
- Give the patient the flexibility and confidence to care for themselves
What to Expect When Undergoing CBT Therapy
When you are advised to undergo this type of treatment, you may be confused and a little scared. There is no need to fret, as cognitive-behavioral therapy is based on the pace you set. Your therapist will begin by asking you about your goals in life or what is causing you problems. Then, you simply talk. Your therapist may guide you to talk about things that specifically bother you. Though, you may find yourself simply talking without much prompting. They will help you analyze what you spoke about and explain ways to change the behaviors you are using to deal with your negative emotions.
For example, if you constantly blame yourself for problems beyond your control, your therapist will point that out to you if you don’t realize it. They will discuss with you why you may feel as though you need to fix these problems when you don’t need to. You will be guided on strategies to train yourself to stop taking the blame for things and how to let go of the illusion of control.
Don’t be surprised to be given “homework.” This is to help you practice what you have learned in your session. You will then talk about what you have accomplished and get tips on how to improve your behavior. This continues until you have a healthy handle on your problem.
Therapy is a safe place to discuss your troubles and gain help that is neither judgmental nor scornful. Emotions are difficult to understand at the best of times. Your therapist understands this and will help guide you in a positive direction. Most of the work is done by you. The therapist only acts like a driver, helping you stay on task and asking questions you may not have ever thought of. CBT is an empowering form of therapy because it can’t be accomplished by someone else, only yourself.
Sometimes medication will be prescribed to help someone feel more comfortable speaking about difficult problems and emotions they have, but it’s not always needed. Your psychiatrist will know for sure if you might need a little extra help to finish your treatment.
What Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy Treats
Since CBT is so useful and flexible, it can be found in many types of treatment plans for many kinds of mental health disorders. For example, CBT is used a lot in the treatment of anxiety disorders by helping someone recognize their fears and healthily face them. CBT is also used in the treatment of substance use disorder (SUD) by helping someone cope with their feelings without the use of substances.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy is also used to treat all ages. Children who struggle with a disorder, such as autism, often benefit from this kind of therapy. Since it puts emphasis on the patient and how they feel, patients feel recognized and understood and often open up more to their therapist than other types of therapy. Children who often feel misunderstood and ignored respond very positively to this type of treatment. Adults and elders who are often pushed to the side from the bustle of society have a pocket of safety where they can discuss how they feel.
CBT is highly effective. If you or someone you love is struggling with a mental health disorder, consider giving this form of treatment a try.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy is an effective form of treatment for people struggling with a mental health disorder. This type of treatment helps a patient understand their feelings and behaviors and change them to improve their lives. Anyone can benefit from this type of therapy, including you. At Acera Health in Costa Mesa, California, we use this type of treatment, alongside many others, to provide well-rounded care to anyone who needs it. We offer no judgment, only the sincere desire to help you and those you care about live happy and healthy lives. If you or someone you love is struggling with their mental health, call (949) 647-4090 to speak with our highly trained and compassionate staff.
Melody is a highly skilled proactive clinical administrator, with more than 17 years of experience serving the community in the behavioral health field.
Her clinical management career started in 2011 as a compliance manager and program director. In 2018, she became an executive as chief clinical officer (CCO). She is a seasoned licensed marriage & family therapist.