The goal of CBT is to change unhealthy thoughts and behaviors by recognizing the connection between emotions and their causes. This article will outline how cognitive behavioral therapy works and who it benefits in hopes you can find relief from your own struggles with mental illness.
How it Works
Cognitive behavioral therapy focuses on the relationship between your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. It provides a framework by which patients can understand their problems better so they may learn ways to improve them. Patients who use cognitive behavioral therapy learn how certain coping skills such as positive thinking and changing one’s environment help reduce symptoms of depression or anxiety.
CBT begins with a discussion of the patient’s problems and goals for therapy. The therapist will then work to develop a plan that focuses on specific issues, needs, and strengths. This is done by talking about what caused certain emotions in the past so they can be identified when they occur again in the present. The next step involves identifying ways to stop these emotions and behaviors so they don’t occur in the future. Once they have been identified, it is important to consider what coping skills and healthy ways of thinking can be used to either disprove these thoughts and tendencies. These coping skills can then be used in future situations, when similar triggers occur. The point is to consistently use these mechanisms so as to rewire the brain over time to think differently.
There are many benefits of cognitive behavioral therapy for people who suffer from mental illness, including improved mood, increased problem-solving skills, decreased feelings of isolation and hopelessness, and greater confidence. These benefits all significantly improve the patient’s quality of life by decreasing the risks of suicide, drug abuse, anxiety disorders, and other health risks that can come up later in life.
Who it Benefits
Cognitive behavioral therapy, as the name implies, has been shown to benefit more than just those with certain disorders. This type of therapy is effective at treating even non-clinical anxiety and depression symptoms. This is because CBT helps people understand their own habits of thinking better so they can develop new coping strategies to make themselves feel better.
People suffering from anxiety disorders like panic disorder, phobias (i.e. social phobia), obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and generalized anxiety are all good candidates for cognitive behavior therapy. Those who struggle with depression, bipolar disorder, eating disorders (i.e., anorexia), and other mental illnesses are also good candidates for cognitive behavior therapy. It is particularly helpful to those struggling with social anxiety as it helps patients be more at ease in public situations.
The research in favor of cognitive behavior therapy is extensive, with studies having been conducted on patients from all over the world. The evidence suggests that it works just as well for those outside clinical trials and can significantly reduce symptoms of mental illness within a short amount of time. In fact, CBT has been shown to be more effective than medication when treating anxiety and depression.
Many therapists choose to use cognitive behavior therapy in addition to or instead of medication when treating patients with mental illness because it works at reducing symptoms, costs less money, and has no side effects like medications do. So, if you’re struggling with any type of mental health issue, CBT may help.