See a therapist – Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)

Psychotherapy

It has a negative connotation in today’s society, which ticks me off more than anything, because seeing a therapist has been something that has pulled me through many hard times. I used to hate going to see her back in middle-school and high school (I felt so abnormal) but now I appreciate those peaceful sessions where I can get some weight off of my chest. She is also a vital member of my support team should I need it. Don’t be ashamed to see someone, it’s hugely helpful and allows for some much-needed relief from your thoughts and emotions.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of psychotherapy.  Under the guidance of a therapist, a person in this form of therapy modifies thought patterns in order to change moods and behaviours. When person is depressed it may have distorted beliefs and thoughts and subsequently act negatively or feel negatively towards themselves or others. This form of psychotherapy does not focus on unconscious forces from the past but rather on current depressed and anxious state of mind.

CBT blends behavioural therapy and cognitive therapy. Behavioural therapy focuses on specific actions and behaviours while cognitive therapy focuses on one’s moods and thoughts. Under the supervision of the therapist, a person works to identify specific negative thought patterns and its own behavioural responses to stressful and challenging situations. While person is being treated, it is looking to develop more constructive and balanced way to respond to stressful situations in hope that this new way will minimize or eliminate disturbing disorder or behaviour.

It is the idea that CBT will help person to apply its principles outside of therapist’s office as well. In addition to seeing a therapist, one can also use online behavioural therapy which uses principles of CBT to help track and manage anxiety and depression symptoms online.

CBT often requires only 10 to 20 sessions as it is considered a more short term approach versus psychodynamic therapies and psychoanalysis. There are also other types of therapies that may require several years of treatment in search for discovery. CBT consists of sessions that are used to seek and identify current life situations that may be either causing or contributing to the depression. With the help of a therapist, person can learn how to identify current thinking patterns or distorted perceptions that have either lead to depression in a first place or may lead to depression in future if thinking patterns are not altered in a more positive way.

CBT is different from psychoanalysis in a way that psychoanalysis involves working backward through the life history to discover and possibly face unconscious source of problem, and hence deal with the source that have led to the depression in a first place.

While undergoing CBT, a person may be asked to keep a journal that would record life events and reactions. The therapist can help categorize those thought patterns and reactions into several categories of self-defeating thought. These include:

  • viewing a world in absolute, black and white terms; all or nothing thinking
  • having scolding, habitual thoughts with automatic negative reactions
  • either making bigger deal out of specific moment or event or minimizing its importance
  • rejecting positive experience like they don’t count
  • taking moments or events too personally or feeling actions that are specifically directed at you
  • darkening vision of reality by picking out a single negative moment and dwelling on it exclusively, unable to let it go

The journal can be used to help replace negative thought patterns and perceptions with more constructive ones. This can be done through series of practiced techniques of CBT. A person can:

  • learn how to identify, control and modify distorted thoughts and reactions
  • practice accurate and balanced self-talk
  • respond appropriately by using self-evaluation to reflect back on the current events
  • learn how to accurately and broadly analyze external situations and reactions or emotional behaviour

There are few different ways how one can practices coping methods. They can be practiced on your own or with the therapist or in a controlled setting where you are confronted with various challenges. These settings can be used to learn how to respond to a situation successfully. Online CBT allows you to practice coping methods in the comfort of your home or office.

CBT can treat various disorders and conditions in children, adolescents and adults.  Several are named below:

  • anxiety disorder
  • depression
  • bipolar disorder
  • attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • general stress
  • schizophrenia
  • phobias
  • substance abuse
  • social skill problems
  • conduct disorder
  • antisocial behaviour (including stealing, lying, and hurting people or animals)
  • eating disorders such as anorexia, bulimia or binge eating
  • personality disorders
  • sexual disorders
  • sleep disorders

When it comes to depression, CBT may be combined with other treatment methods in order to effectively fight the disorder.

Risks associated with CBT can stem from exploration of painful experiences or feelings and such exploration can lead to more stress. Part of the treatment is to face situations that person would normally avoid. However, there is little long term emotional risk associated with CBT. As a part of the treatment, a person can be asked to spend time in confined space if claustrophobic. Or confront the death of the loved one if that caused the depression.  Treatment methods can provide opportunities to find alternate response to stressful or difficult situations. The overall goal of CBT is to teach person to deal with anxiety and stress in a safe and constructive manner.

CBT is very effective in treating certain problem as per various researches.  More evidence-based studies have been conducted on the results of cognitive behavioural therapy than any other kind due to its effectiveness and benefits.  It is suggested that when used in combination with antidepressants it may provide most benefits, although we are focusing here to find natural approach to fight and treat depression, anxiety and panic attacks that doesn’t include use of antidepressants.

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