This type of psychotherapy has been found in hundreds of studies to be effective for many types of disorders, including depression, anxiety disorders and bipolar disorder.Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) or cognitive therapy, helps us recognize the distorted thoughts and beliefs that cause us pain and replace them with those that help us feel and function better. The way we perceive situations influences how we feel. Working with a therapist, we can use CBT to learn to deal with our emotions, relate to others in different ways and solve problems.
CBT can help individuals deal with painful feelings, resolve family conflicts, gain better control over impulses and moods and make good decisions. Individuals can learn techniques to help reduce self-criticism, withdrawal, and lack of interest in activities. Most people notice an improvement within just a few weeks of participation.
How does it work?
Your therapist will begin by helping you identify the thoughts, feelings and behaviors you are having now. You will set goals about changes you’d like to make at work, at home, in your relationships with family, friends, coworkers, and others.
|Beth’s new boss was sometimes critical of her work. After a while, Beth began to tell herself, “I can’t do anything right. I’m going to get fired.” She worried constantly that she might make mistakes. Her stress began to affect her behavior. She couldn’t concentrate on her work, she stopped speaking up in staff meetings, and there were days that she couldn’t make herself get out of bed to go to work at all. She was miserable.|
Your therapist will help you evaluate the accuracy of your thoughts and beliefs in specific situations and work with you on problem-solving. You’ll learn to identify distortions in your thinking and how to change this thinking. CBT is action-oriented, practical and helps you gain independence and effectiveness in dealing with real-life issues.
Her cognitive-behavioral therapist, Laura, worked with Beth to help her identify the thoughts and feelings that were causing her unhappiness. With Laura’s help, Beth found new ways of thinking about her problems.
She reminded herself that her old boss had always been happy with her performance. Maybe her new boss just wasn’t very good at interacting with his employees or was feeling insecure in his new position. Maybe Beth had misinterpreted the criticism. Maybe getting fired wasn’t even a possibility – or maybe it was.
Together, Beth and Laura worked out strategies for action Beth could take. She could talk to her boss about what changes he would like to see in the way she did her job. She could notice whether he was the same with other employees. This could tell her how much of it was really about her. She could decide that she wanted to make a change and begin looking for a new job while she still had this one.
|Beth’s mood began to change from hopeless to confident.|
What about medications?
Cognitive-behavior therapy may be used in combination with medications. Depending upon the severity of your illness or problem, you might use medications to help you become more stable and able to participate fully in therapy.