Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a form of psychotherapy which emphasizes on building connections between feelings, thoughts, and behaviors. CBT is used by psychotherapists for identifying and changing dysfunctional thought patterns. It is also used for adolescents to manage a wide range of disorders like anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and eating disorders. Additionally, CBT can be used to manage complicated problems like substance abuse and difficulties like stress to significantly improve quality of life.

Basic Principles of CBT

CBT is based on the ideology that there is a clear association between thoughts, feelings, and behavior.

For example:

Thought – I’m socially uncomfortable

Feeling – Anxiety

Behavior – The afflicted person avoids everyone at a party and sits in a secluded corner.

A socially uncomfortable individual is likely to avoid eye contact and would be reluctant to get into conversations. Therefore, in the absence of positive social interactions, their feelings or thoughts of being socially awkward are strengthened. CBT aims to disrupt this cycle by modifying the way a person thinks and the resultant behavior.

With the use of a behavioral experiment, a psychotherapist may help an individual combat the negative thought process. For instance, a socially uncomfortable person might challenge themselves to initiate a conversation with at least 3 new people at the next get-together or event they attend. If they succeed to some degree, the thought that they are socially uncomfortable might weaken.

Furthermore, the psychotherapist may assist an individual in changing their thoughts. For example, when a person thinks that people perceive them to be weird, they could remind themselves that since each one of us is different, it is all right. This shift in the thought process can greatly alleviate the anxiety they struggle with.

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Who can benefit from CBT?

Over the years, research has established the efficacy of CBT in the following conditions:

  • Alcoholism
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Phobias
  • Drug addiction
  • Schizophrenia
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Psychotic disorders
  • Mood disorders
  • Personality disorders
  • Self-harming behaviors
  • Low self-esteem
  • Sleep disorders

However, when CBT is used as a therapeutic intervention for a major addiction or mental disorder, it is best to integrate it into the personalized treatment plan developed for the patient. One must remember that a commitment to the required number of sessions is required to ensure that the intervention is effective.

What to expect in CBT session?

CBT can be performed with an individual, or in a group session with people who struggle with similar issues or with the family members. In some places where mental health resources are lacking, online resources can be helpful in facilitating participation in CBT.

CBT enables a person to learn about their mental health. It also facilitates a person to get a hold over techniques such as coping, stress management, relaxation, resilience, and assertiveness, to be able to respond in a better manner to stimuli.

A therapist is likely to help a patient confront the thoughts and concerns troubling them. It is normal to feel a little rigid in opening up initially. However, a therapist would use a goal-oriented approach to help the patient feel at ease and gain more confidence. Gradually, they might start assigning homework like reading, completing activities, etc., that may help a person consolidate their learnings during the sessions and apply those learnings in real life. At times, a therapist might also integrate CBT with another approach such as interpersonal therapy to focus on one’s social interactions.

CBT sessions

During the preliminary session, a therapist might ask the patient about them and the concerns on which they would like to work. The therapist would make a comprehensive note of the individual’s emotional and physical health in the last few months to get a fair idea of their overall health. When that has been established, they would decide if one-on-one or group CBT sessions need to be conducted for the patient.

Once the personalized treatment plan is in place, the patient would notice the CBT sessions following a certain pattern or steps. These would be as follows:

  • Recognizing problematic situations in life – These situations or conditions could be anger, grief, divorce, a mental condition, or even symptoms of a mental illness. A therapist and a patient must spend a considerable amount of time in figuring out the problems and the goals they need to focus on.
  • Identifying behavioral and emotional response to troublesome situations – Once an individual has recognized the problems, the next step is to work with the therapist and share their thoughts on these situations with them. This might comprise how and what one tells the self (self-talk), one’s understanding of the meaning of a particular situation, and one’s beliefs about themselves, others, and even events. At this point, it is common for the therapist to encourage the patient to maintain a journal and record their thoughts in it.
  • Identifying pessimistic and inappropriate thinking – It is important for an individual to recognize the behavioral and thinking patterns that may be exacerbating their problems. To achieve this, a therapist may ask an individual to pay close attention to their emotional, behavioral, and physical responses to different scenarios.
  • Realigning negative though patterns – A therapist might motivate an individual to ask themselves about how they perceive a situation – whether it is a fact or based on an inaccurate perception. This can get challenging for a patient, however, with consistent and assisted thinking, they might be successful at breaking the negative thought pattern and adopting healthy and improved ways of thinking.

Length of therapy

CBT is a short-term, time-based therapy. It usually consists of five to 20 sessions. A therapist and a patient might decide the length and the duration of the therapy based on factors like type of disorder, severity of symptoms, duration of the illness, how receptive a person is to treatment, how much stress one is undergoing and how much support one is receiving from their family and others.

How to get maximum benefits from CBT?

While CBT might not be effective for everyone, one can take concrete steps to reap maximum benefits from it. These would include:

  1. Investing in a partnership – CBT can produce positive outcomes if the patient and therapist work together as a team. They should identify problem areas, agree upon the treatment strategy, set similar goals, and work towards them collectively.
  2. Openness and honesty – One must be willing to share their deep-seated fears and apprehensions with the therapist and must also be receptive to new ideas and insights for doing things differently. If one experiences emotional turmoil while sharing their experiences, they must inform their therapist of the same.
  3. Adhering to treatment plan – There would be some days when one might not feel motivated enough to attend a session, however, this will hamper one’s progress. Therefore, no matter how one feels, one should get up and attend their therapy session. They might feel better after the session.
  4. Do not expect immediate results – Working through emotional issues can be time consuming and at times nerve-wrecking. Therefore, one should have patience and believe that things would work out with time.
  5. Completing homework regularly – If a therapist asks an individual to practice some techniques, or update a journal, one must complete these tasks without fail as these hasten the treatment process.
  6. Informing therapist if therapy is unyielding – If after several sessions, an individual realizes that they are not benefitting from the therapy, it is indispensable that they talk to the therapist so that the latter institutes a new treatment approach.

CBT through Invictus Health Group

Multiple studies have established the efficacy of CBT as a psychotherapy for the treatment of mental disorders and addictions. This is the reason why CBT has now become an essential part of the treatment programs at various mental health and addiction treatment centers. The Invictus Health Group manages a network of multiple behavioral health centers in the United States that offer integrated treatment services for mental disorders and addiction.

These centers are empowered by skilled mental health professionals who conduct a thorough evaluation of each patient at the time of admission. Based on these initial assessments, a personalized treatment plan is created which conforms to the individual needs of the patient. The specialists offering CBT make sure that the patient shows progress on a continuous basis and focuses solely on their recovery.

If you or a loved one are looking for reliable mental health or addiction treatment facilities in your vicinity, get in touch with the Invictus Health Group. Our team of experts will offer you all the required assistance to connect you with the most suitable behavioral health center offering CBT in our network. Call our 24/7 treatment helpline (866) 548-0190 or chat online with our counselor for more information about the various treatment modalities offered at our network facilities.

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