CBT - Changing Thoughts, Actions, and Feelings
Mar 11, 2021
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a therapeutic approach that focuses on the relationship between our thoughts (cognitions) and our behavior. CBT is based on the premise that our thoughts and behaviors are linked, and to elicit meaningful therapeutic change, both thoughts and actions should be addressed. CBT has been identified as an effective tool for treating a variety of conditions, including anxiety, depression, eating disorders, and OCD, among others. CBT can also be helpful for anyone who is interested in improving their general mental health.
CBT focuses on helping clients to identify patterns of thoughts and behaviors that may be unpleasant or unwanted, in order to help clients gain awareness and make meaningful change. Once maladaptive thought patterns or beliefs have been identified a therapist will guide a client to start making behavioral changes using new, healthy coping mechanisms to replace old, unwanted behaviors.
Therapists reinforce positive coping skills and empower the client to practice these new skills in their daily lives. CBT is often described as "goal oriented" because therapists help clients to identify challenging behavioral patterns and clients are often able to observe real behavioral changes over time. Often negative behavior patterns can be eliminated once the underlying thoughts are addressed and challenged. For example, a client who persistently engages in obsessive compulsive hand washing may need to challenge the thoughts that their hands are dirty by checking the facts and reminding themselves that they have just been washed and are not dirty.
As a clients thoughts change, a therapist may also ask a client to practice new, healthy behaviors to replace old unwanted behaviors. A client with anorexia may be encouraged to eat meals regularly, and a client with OCD may be encouraged to walk away from the sink after washing their hands once. By continually practicing the new, healthy behaviors they become more ingrained over time, becoming more and more automatic.
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