Some people may suffer from irrational thinking or may feel overwhelmed by circumstances going on in their lives. Anyone suffering from conditions such as depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and even eating disorders can attribute their feelings to mental health or behavioral issues. These types of mental health conditions can be treated using Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or CBT, to help find the root of the cause.
What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)?
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is a treatment that concentrates on patterns of thinking that are distorted and the beliefs that are the root cause of irrational thinking. CBT aims to incorporate psychodynamic and behavioral therapies to help relieve symptoms that a man or woman may be experiencing. Generally speaking, CBT is a common type of talk therapy, or psychotherapy, where individuals can work with a mental health counselor, psychotherapist, or therapist in a structured number of sessions. Meeting with mental health counselors and utilizing CBT provides the opportunity for individuals to recognize inaccurate, negative thinking in order to resolve their problems more effectively and clearly.
When a person speaks with a trained therapist in a safe and confidential environment to explore and understand feelings and behaviors and gain coping skills, this could be considered psychotherapy, or “talk therapy.” It is important to note that CBT can be a helpful tool to anyone dealing with stressful life situations, and that mental health conditions are not required to utilize CBT effectively.
Can CBT Help in Treating Depression?
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy can help treat depression in multiple ways. Depression is an episode of sadness or apathy along with other symptoms that lasts at least two consecutive weeks and is severe enough to interrupt daily activities. Depression is not a weakness, but it should be treated and CBT can help. Negative thinking can affect a person’s mood, sense of self, behavior, and even physical state while CBT can help a person learn to recognize negative patterns of thought, evaluate their validity, and replace them with healthier ways of thinking.
CBT can help treat depression by doing the following:5
- Utilizing cognitive restructuring and focusing on the immediate present
- Focusing on specific problems in individual or group sessions
- Being goal oriented
- Taking an educational approach to teach patients ways to cope
- Making sure patients take an active role in their learning, in sessions, and between sessions using homework assignments
- Employing multiple strategies such as: role playing, imagery, guided discovery, and behavioral experiments
What Are Some CBT Techniques I Can Use?
CBT can address many stressful mental health conditions, but it is important to understand the types and functions of CBT that will best help treat the root of the cause.
The Four Types of CBT are:1
- Cognitive therapy: A type of psychotherapy in which negative patterns of thought about the self and the world are challenged in order treat mood disorders
- Rational Emotive: Psychotherapy which focuses on resolving emotional and behavioral disturbances with the goal of leading to a more fulfilling life
- Multimodal Therapy: Approach which focuses on each modality, such as behavior, sensation, and interpersonal relationships
- Behavior Therapy: The treatment of neurotic symptoms by training a patient’s reactions to stimuli
Once the best-fitting type of CBT is chosen, there are nine techniques and tools that can be utilized to help relieve issues caused by specific types of mental health conditions.
9 Essential Techniques and Tools to Use:
- Journaling – This gathering of data can include information such as the time of the mood or thought, the source of it, as well as the intensity and the response to it. This technique helps identify thought patterns, and determine how to change or cope with them.
- Unraveling Cognitive Distortions – This is a main goal of CBT, and can be practised without a therapist or counselor. This technique involves becoming aware of which distortions, or inaccurate thoughts, you are most vulnerable to.
- Cognitive Restructuring – Once the distortions are identified, you can begin to understand the root cause and how you became to believe it. When a belief is found to be destructive, or harmful, you can begin to challenge it using cognitive restructuring.
- Exposure and Response Prevention – If you suffer from OCD, this technique can be especially useful. This technique allows you to expose yourself to whatever triggers the OCD behavior, and try your best to refrain from it by combining the technique of journaling to write down and describe how the behavior makes you feel.
- Interoceptive Exposure – This technique is meant to treat panic and anxiety. It involves exposure to feared bodily sensations in order to elicit the response, activate any unhelpful beliefs associated with the sensations, maintain the sensations without distraction or avoidance, and allow new learning about the sensations to take place. It is intended to help the sufferer see that symptoms of panic are not dangerous, although they may be uncomfortable.
- Nightmare Exposure and Rescripting – This technique is similar to Interoceptive Exposure, and elicits nightmares to produce relevant emotions. Once the emotions arise, the client and therapist work together to identify the desired emotion and develop a new image to accompany the desired emotion.
- Play the Script Until the End – This technique is found to be beneficial for those suffering from fear and anxiety. In this technique, a thought experiment is conducted and a scenario is played out imagining the worst case scenario. Playing out these scenarios, allows the individual to see that with everything they fear, it will likely turn out okay.
- Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR) – This technique instructs you to relax one muscle group at a time until your entire body is in a state of relaxation. This can be done using your own mind, an audio tape, or YouTube video in order to re-focus your mind and calm your nerves.
- Relaxed Breathing – Bringing a sense of regularity and calmness to your breathing will allow you to approach your problems from a more balanced place, inducing effective and rational thinking.
If you or someone you know suffers from mental health conditions such as depression, eating disorders, or PTSD, it is beneficial to understand the causes of these conditions, and how CBT can help can help during treatment. Contact The Center • A Place of HOPE today at 1-888-771-5166 and begin the healing process.