Your feelings are valid. So are your emotions. However you’re feeling, there’s always a road which goes to your thoughts. And it’s very crucial to find the pathway to that.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is a type of talk therapy which focuses on identifying and changing destructive or disturbing thought patterns that have a negative influence on behaviour and emotions.

CBT focuses on the automatic negative thoughts that can contribute to making a situation more difficult. CBT is a proven effective treatment for a wide range of mental and emotional issues, including depression and anxiety. Techniques taught in CBT are designed to bring positive changes in an individual’s quality of life.

CBT can be effective for anyone who is in a state of distress as it shows how your thinking affects your emotions and mood. It teaches you strategies to identify the negative thoughts and how like any other habit, ne``gative thinking can be changed as well.

Thoughts, feelings, emotions and CBT

Thoughts = Emotions = Behaviour

The main focus of CBT is on the thoughts, feelings and behaviour combined together which influences an individual’s quality of life. For instance, severe shyness in social settings may arise from the individual thinking that others would always find him/her boring. This belief could make the individual feel inferior and in return make him/her anxious in social situations.

This, in turn, could lead to certain behaviours in social settings, for instance, hands trembling, sweating, increased heart beat, face flushed, or other uncomfortable symptoms of anxiety. The individual could further indulge in negative self-talk (‘I’m a stupid person for coming here”) and could feel overwhelmed in the social setting. This fear of being around other people could worsen as with every awkward social situation.

CBT teaches people how to manage in such situations and control your thoughts, feelings and behaviours. CBT helps you to overcome negative beliefs and teach you techniques to change or modify your way of thinking which ultimately would change your behaviour as well.

Cognitive Therapy and Behaviour Therapy (CBT)

CBT combines both cognitive and behaviour therapy as it focuses on changing automatic negative thoughts and behaviours. As it combines two therapies together, it’s core function is to convert unhelpful negative thoughts into healthy thoughts which ultimately would lead to healthy feelings and behaviours.

Unhelpful Negative Thoughts → Healthy thoughts = Healthy feelings and behaviours

What CBT Can Help With

Cognitive behaviour therapy is used to treat variety of mental health conditions such as:

Techniques Used in CBT

Once you identify thought patterns, you’re left with two choices, either to work on those and change or continue revolving around the same circle. CBT makes you identify the unhelpful thoughts and works on the strategies to overcome these. Several techniques are proven to be effective such as journaling, role-playing, relaxation techniques and mental distractions. Let’s look closely and understand each one of these.

Identifying Negative Thoughts

The first and the foremost step towards change is identifying the problem. Once you identify where the issue lies, you then focus on working towards it. It’s crucial to understand how thoughts, feelings and situations can turn into maladaptive behaviours. The process of introspection and then working towards self-discovery may seem difficult but it is as essential as anything.

Practising New Skills

When you start practising new skills, enhance your own personality and it also helps you in coping with tough situations. For instance, an individual with a substance abuse disorder may start practising new skills and rehearsing ways to tackle social settings where chances of relapse are greater.

Goal-Setting

To recover from a mental health condition, goal setting can help you immensely to make changes in your health and life. During CBT sessions, a therapist would help you with goal-setting skills by teaching you how to identify your goal, set short and long term goals, and set SMART Goals (Specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, time-based).

Problem-Solving

Problem solving can help you identify and resolve the issues which arise from the everyday life stressors and reduces the impact of mental illness.
Problem Solving in CBT involves five major steps:

  • Identifying a problem
  • Making a list of possible solutions
  • Evaluating the strengths and weaknesses
  • Selecting a solution to implement
  • Implementing the solution

Self-Monitoring

Also called as diary work, self-monitoring is a crucial component of CBT which involves tracking behaviours, signs, experiencing over time and sharing with your therapist. For instance, for people who are coping with eating disorders, self-monitoring may help in keeping a track of eating habits which ultimately helps in keeping thoughts and feelings in track as well.

Benefits of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

The main concept of CBT is as follows:

Situation → Thoughts → Emotions → Behaviour

The main goal of CBT is to teach individuals techniques on how to control their own thoughts so they can work towards changing their behaviour. For instance, a person who indulges in thinking about plane crashes or accidents may fear or completely avoid travel by air. CBT, as we know now, works towards changing the thought patterns of an individual for better. Let’s look at the key benefits as well;

  • It gives you a space to engage your mind in healthier thinking patterns by identifying the unhelpful automatic negative thinking which dampens your mood and feelings.
  • It is proven to be an effective short-term treatment option for various conditions, for instance, considerable improvement could be visible after five to twenty therapy sessions
  • It is proved to be effective for various maladaptive behaviours
  • It has been seen to be effective in both face-to-face and online therapy.
  • It helps individuals in developing shopping skills which they can use in both present and future.

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