What is CBT?

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and How it's Beneficial

Often people say to me that their past therapy experiences were good, but they didn't really get anything to do to feel better outside of session.  The therapist listened and was empathic, but didn't teach them how to manage and reduce their symptoms.  That's one example of when I'll start to talk about how I use CBT to do just that.

CBT was created by Aaron Beck and now the institute is run by his daughter, Judith Beck.  It's based on the theory that our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors all influence each other.  Following that theory, a focus is how to change our thoughts that then will change how we're feeling and what we do.  Sometimes though we work on changing actions first, specially for depression, so it's not a rule that we only work on thoughts.  Feelings are also a focus of therapy.

 

CBT doesn't put a big emphasis on past experiences like a therapist who is psychodynamic does.  CBT focuses on the present and present examples of issues the client is having.  We examine these examples in session so we can practice the skills that the client will use outside of session.  Then the client reports back on how it goes and we adjust.  Some buzzwords in CBT are core beliefs (an overall belief the client holds about themselves, such as "I'm unloveable"), automatic thoughts (these are the negative thoughts the client frequently thinks that supports the core belief of "I'm unloveable"), cognitive reframing (working to change the thoughts), and cognitive restructuring (working to change the overall belief system).  It's well researched and collaborative.  The ultimate goal is for the client to learn all the skills and be able to be their own therapist.

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