When you are in a challenging situation that affects your behavior or thinking, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can help you achieve peace within yourself by breaking down your situation into five different parts:
- Your situation
- Your thoughts
- Your emotions
- Your physical feelings
- Your actions
Cognitive behavioral therapy interconnects these five parts in a manner that each of them can have an effect on the other. For instance, the way you think about a situation affects the way you feel and the action you will take.
How is CBT different from other psychotherapies?
There is a difference between CBT and other psychotherapies since CBT is:
- Pragmatic - You find out about your own problems and try to solve them by yourself.
- Highly-structured - Rather than talking freely about your life, you and your therapist can discuss specific problems and set goals for you to achieve.
- Solves current situations - It focuses on your thinking and actions instead of trying to fix your past problems.
- Collaborative - You and your therapist work together. Your therapist does not decide for you since you make your own decisions while your therapist helps you get the solutions to your problems.
Cognitive behavioral therapy sessions can be organized for an individual or with a group of other people depending on your situation. The sessions take around 40 to 60 minutes. There are around 20 sessions every two weeks. If you are having an exposure therapy, you may have longer sessions. The therapies can take place in various areas and may depend on your anxieties:
- Inside the clinic - The usual place for therapy.
- Outside - When you are having an exposure therapy.
- At your place - Therapy may be done at a specific place, especially for people with agoraphobia (fear of being in public and crowded areas).
Specialists for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
There are several specialists who can perform cognitive behavioral therapies. They must, however, be trained in handling cognitive behavioral therapies. You can always have a discussion with your therapist before starting your therapy sessions to ascertain their qualifications, experience, and the types of anxieties they deal and have dealt with. The following are healthcare providers who can carry out cognitive behavioral therapies:
- Mental health nurses
- General practitioners
How to Prepare for a CBT
Cognitive behavioral therapy can be suggested by your doctor or you may have a sole decision to try it. Here are a few things you can do before starting your CBT sessions:
- Identify a therapist - You can ask for assistance to find a therapist or you can find one on your own. Nowadays, you can look up the internet. You can also get referrals from your doctor, friends, or family. Just ensure that you are confident and you trust the person who will give you the referrals.
- Consider the cost of therapy - You need to discuss all the charges and fees with your therapist. Make sure that your therapist understands your budget. If you have health insurance, ensure that your insurance covers psychotherapies.
- Look back on your anxieties - Prior to therapy, think about the situations that often give you challenges and that you want to act upon. Even though your therapist will help you sort them out, thinking about them by yourself may help you gain more insight.
Steps Involved in CBT
Cognitive behavioral therapy involves a number of steps. They include:
- Selecting the conditions and situations that are negatively affecting your life - There are certain situations and conditions in your life that are tragic and capable enough to disrupt your peace and happiness. You may be going through a divorce, medical condition, anger, signs of mental illness, grief, or any other tragedy that brings about an abrupt change or loss, which becomes a source of negative thoughts and energy in your life. This first step is about identifying these conditions or situations and deciding which ones to focus on.
- Identify your emotions, beliefs, and thoughts regarding these situations or conditions - The second step is knowing your reaction to the particular problem you have decided to focus on during the first step. Your therapist would want to know what are your thoughts about the situation and how you feel about it. It also involves how you think about yourself and your feelings toward yourself after the situation. Your therapist would also want to find out what you think about any parties involved in that particular condition or situation.
- Pinpoint inaccurate or negative thinking - Your therapist may suggest that you focus on the thoughts and feelings that are triggered by specific situations. This step allows your therapist to identify the negative emotions and thoughts that are as a result of the tragic situations and isolate them.
- Correct negative and inaccurate thinking - The therapist will try to encourage self-examination and help you find out if your negative thoughts and emotions are based on facts, imagination, or unsupported conclusions. This step is probably the most difficult among other steps since you may be having a strict way of thinking about yourself and life in general, which are not easy to change. Practice, behavior patterns, and positive thinking play major roles in the success of this therapy.
Where to locate a CBT therapist?
In most cases, your doctor will refer you to a suitable therapist if need be. Your doctor is probably one of the best channels when it comes to finding a suitable therapist for you. It is important that you get a qualified therapist since it will determine how successful your therapy will be. You should also note that not every therapist out there is qualified to perform a successful CBT. However, a good number of them should probably be familiar with the therapy. Some of these professionals include psychiatrists, clinical psychologists, social workers, and nurses who specialize in mental health.
You can also find a CBT therapist on your own. You should, however, make sure that you do good research and use trusted sources on the same before making the move.
How effective is CBT?
Many people ask themselves how effective CBT really is. Cognitive behavioral therapy has been proven to be effective in fixing certain emotional or physical complications. It has been outstanding, particularly in cases where anxiety, eating disorders, or depression are involved. According to research, CBT is equally as effective as any other type of medication that patients with mental conditions receive. It also greatly reduces the chances of the condition from recurring.
Another research has also shown that people with chronic pain conditions tend to greatly rely on CBT to reduce pain and depression. It is possible to perform CBT on your own, but it usually works best with the guidance of a medical practitioner, who is qualified in the same field.
How long does a CBT last?
CBT is probably one of the shortest therapies. It contains about 10 to 20 sessions and it will be upon you and your therapist to decide on how many sessions you will need depending on the severity of your condition and a number of other factors such as:
- The type of situation or disorder that you have
- How serious are the symptoms you are experiencing
- How long have you been experiencing the symptoms and for how long your situation lasted
- How fast or slow is your recovery process
- The level of stress that you have been going through
- How supportive are your family members, friends, or any other people around you