An Overview of Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT)
People who have anxiety, depression, and other emotional disturbances must
learn to change their thoughts and behaviors in order to change the way they
feel. Cognitive Behavior Therapy addresses the thoughts that reinforce negative
viewpoints, and the behavior that occurs from those beliefs. Since thoughts
and behavior work in an inextricable cycle, both sides must be addressed
in order to change the way we feel.
The Cognitive Side
Cognition is defined as the psychological result of perception, learning,
and reasoning. Simply put, thoughts have an enormous impact on our mental
health. Cognitive Therapy is not as simple as thinking positive. Human thought
is complex, and changing the way we think can mean attempting to undo years
of thought patterns. Some of these thought patterns may be negative and automatic.
We are all inherently imaginative beings with an endless amount of thoughts
zipping in and out of our minds throughout the day. When these thoughts are
negative in nature, they begin to disrupt our lives and slowly change our
perspective from one that creatively visualizes to one that only has the
capacity for negative visualization. Thoughts like, “We are all going
to die anyway, so what’s the point in doing anything at all?” often
carry great emotional weight without any real solution. A major part of eliminating
damaging automatic thoughts is to determine the core beliefs that these thoughts
are rooted in.
Core beliefs can be divided into two categories: those of helplessness,
and those of unlovability. For example, a person may have the automatic thought, “I
can’t get along with anyone,” which stems from the unlovable
core beliefs. The automatic thought “I can’t control my feelings
anymore” is rooted in a helpless core belief structure.
By changing our core beliefs and the resulting automatic thoughts, we can
change overall perceptions, feelings, and actions.
The Behavior Side
The way we think and feel usually determines the actions that we take. If
a person believes that he or she is unlovable, he or she may take actions
to avoid being in relationships, something that could further validate their
core belief. If someone thinks they are worthless, he or she may participate
in dangerous, impulsive activity. Thoughts, feelings, and actions are completely
linked together. By changing thought processes, actions can be changed as
The first step to addressing an emotional disturbance is to become aware
of the thoughts and feelings that drive it. Actively investigating the thought
processes from both a cognitive and a behavioral point of view can dramatically
affect our ability to resolve any emotional disturbance permanently.
Cognitive Therapy Overview
Behavior Therapy Overview
Natural Alternatives that can help
Keeping a Progress Journal
Talking to Your Doctor
Which Doctor is Right for Me?