Updated: May 4
Do you suffer from anxiety disorder and depression? Are you unable to manage your emotions effectively? Is your mental health condition taking a toll on your daily life?
Then you might want to try cognitive behavioral therapy.
CBT is among the many types of psychotherapy that can help treat a wide range of mental disorders.
But how does it work, and who can benefit the most from it?
Keep reading to learn about this therapy and determine whether or not it is the best option for you.
What Is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?
CBT helps people identify and change unhelpful thoughts that impact their emotions and behavior.
It emerged in the 1960s and is one of the most well-researched psychotherapies today.
CBT focuses on changing the automatic negative thoughts that add to our emotional difficulties, anxiety, or depression and replacing them with more objective and realistic thoughts.
How Does CBT Work?
Cognitive behavioral therapy is based on the concept that your thoughts, emotions, physical sensations, and actions are interconnected. Consequently, negative thoughts and feelings can impact your life and trap you in a negative cycle.
With CBT, a person can learn how to deal with overwhelming problems in their lives in a positive manner. You're shown how to identify thought patterns, manage your reactions, and improve your feelings.
CBT is based on several other core principles:
Psychological problems can stem from faulty or unhelpful thought patterns.
Psychological problems can stem from unhelpful behavioral patterns.
We can learn better ways to cope with them and become more effective at dealing with life issues.
Unlike other talk therapies, CBT focuses on your current problems rather than your past ones.
The treatment typically involves four main steps:
Identifying troubling situations in your life.
Becoming aware of your thoughts and emotions.
Identifying wrong or inaccurate thoughts.
Reshaping negative or inaccurate thoughts.
What Does Research Say About Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?
Numerous studies suggest that people who undergo CBT experience a significant improvement in their quality of life. They also show that CBT is as effective, if not more effective, than psychiatric medications or other forms of psychological therapy.
A study by Oxford University also found that in addition to medications, CBT is effective in reducing depressive symptoms and improving a person's quality of life over the long term.
Is CBT Right for You?
CBT is based on the cognitive model of emotional response, which tells us that our feelings or behaviors stem from our thoughts, not external stimuli.
This treatment is globally recognized as one of the most effective and broadly applicable psychotherapy approaches.
As such, it is used to alleviate symptoms of a wide range of conditions, including:
Uncontrolled Anger and Aggression
You can greatly benefit from CBT if you suffer from any of these conditions.
Cognitive behavioral therapists can also help people deal with life transitions, substance abuse, relationship issues, trauma, and other challenges.
They can help you realize that your thoughts do not define you and will guide you in developing healthy habits that will improve your quality of life.
How Can CBT Help You?
There are many benefits to engaging in any type of psychotherapy, not just for yourself but also for your family or other people in your life.
Below are the benefits specifically related to CBT:
1) The treatment period can be relatively short.
The course of therapy tends to be shorter than other therapy types. Usually, CBT only takes five to 20 sessions.
That said, CBT may be more affordable than other options.
2) CBT offers long-term results.
A depressed brain typically reinforces negative thought pathways. These well-established pathways affect the brain's willingness to process negative information more easily than positive information. This results in cognitive distortion or skewed thought patterns.
CBT strives to rewire the brain by creating new neural pathways through neutral thinking. Hence, it trains your brain to correct negative thought patterns.
Research on depression has found that people who undergo CBT are less likely to relapse than those who only take antidepressants.
3) CBT sessions are flexible.
Another advantage of CBT is it can be structured to fit your schedule and other preferences. For example, in Change Inc. Counseling Center, you can choose to attend in-person sessions or talk to your therapist online or via phone. Moreover, you can choose to have a private session or join a group.
The skills you learn from CBT are applicable to everyday life. CBT isn't just for people who have mental disorders. Even if you don't suffer from anxiety, depression, or any other types of mental health issues, you can greatly benefit from CBT.
Cognitive behavioral therapy aims to equip you with skills that allow you to take control of your life and become happier.
These include mindfulness, emotion regulation, conflict resolution, relationships, and communication.
CBT also helps people learn how to handle overwhelming emotions such as fear, anger, grief, or sadness and manage symptoms or prevent the relapse of a mental illness.
What To Expect from Your First CBT Session
Beginning therapy can be overwhelming. You might feel nervous about your first session and anxious about opening up with a stranger. You might also wonder what the therapist will ask or how you will explain your situation.
That's okay. It's normal. However, you should know that therapy is a safe, non-judgmental, and supportive space where you can freely share your thoughts and feelings.
A licensed professional counselor is trained to help you deal with overwhelming emotions and guide and support you toward healing.
Let's take a look at what to expect during your first CBT appointment.
First, your therapist will ask about your symptoms, feelings, and experience. Note that emotional distress can manifest physically as well.
For example, people with anxiety disorders or depression often experience headaches, fatigue, upset stomach, chest pain, and palpitations. It's a good idea to mention them to your therapist.
Your therapist might also ask about the specific difficulties you're experiencing at present. It's okay to be vulnerable during your therapy session. Feel free to share anything that comes to mind.
The more details you share, the better your therapist will understand what you're going through. CBT can help you deal with challenges, big or small.
How To Find a CBT Therapist in Lakewood
To reap the full benefits of cognitive therapy, you need to look for a qualified mental health practitioner. There isn't a one-size-fits-all approach to CBT, and even though finding a good therapist who will work with you toward healing might feel intimidating, it's well worth the effort.
So how do you find a reliable cognitive-behavioral therapist?
1) Do your research.
Start by doing your homework. It's important to not only research potential therapists but also to check what therapy types they offer.
Many therapists combine CBT with other forms of psychotherapy, such as:
Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT)
When searching for Lakewood therapists, check if they have the training and experience to solve your specific problems. If you're seeking treatment for a specific condition, narrow your search to those with experience in that area.
For example, if you're struggling with phobia or anxiety disorder, prioritize cognitive-behavioral therapists who are trained in exposure therapy.
2) Consider your needs and preferences.
Forming a strong therapeutic relationship with your therapist plays a key role in the success of your treatment. Hence, it's crucial to find someone you will work with well.
Some preferences to consider when choosing a CBT practitioner are:
Age - You might be more comfortable working with someone your age or older than you.
Gender - with what gender do you feel most comfortable?
Race/Ethnicity - Would you feel more connected if the therapist shared your racial identity?
3) Schedule an initial consultation.
Initial consultations help new clients get a general "feel" for the therapy. During your first appointment with your therapist, ask about their treatment approach, experience, and other important questions you might have.
Your therapist should also be able to provide you with an overview of the treatment plan for your issue.
Nevertheless, it may take them several sessions to understand your struggles fully.
The first few sessions are also crucial to assess the qualities of your therapist and whether or not you can work together effectively.
A good therapist is not only a good listener but also compassionate, caring, and non-judgmental.
After the session, ask yourself how comfortable you feel. Do you think the therapist was genuine? Could you be honest and vulnerable to them without being judged or criticized?
Finding Great Cognitive Behavioral Therapist in Lakewood
Many psychotherapists consider cognitive behavioral therapy as the "gold standard" for treating many mental disorders.
However, the effectiveness of CBT depends on several factors, including the patient's willingness to heal and the strength of their relationship with their therapists.
We work with all ages, helping them connect with their authentic selves, boost their self-esteem, and identify patterns that impact their lives.
If you're considering CBT to overcome your struggles, reach out to our team. We offer professional therapy in our private Lakewood counseling center as well as online sessions.
Regardless of your challenges, our goal is to help you feel more like you again. Contact us today to start feeling better soon.