Frequently Asked Questions About Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Fear and anxiousness are regular parts of our lives. It helps us detect and avoid dangers in our environment. Despite this, too much fear and anxiety are also detrimental. It may require us to seek help from others to relieve these emotions back to a healthy level. 

Conditions that irrational fears like phobia and anxiety can severely impact daily lives. When accompanied by recurring panic attacks, everyday life becomes more difficult. It may also end up affecting relationships too.

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Fortunately, psychology made more advancements to manage these conditions. These changes made it possible for people suffering from anxiety disorders like phobias and panic disorders to get treated. Medicine and talk therapy help deal with and manage these conditions. In particular, CBT or cognitive behavioral therapy has been one of the well-researched options for these people.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy stands on the belief that our thoughts and feelings affect our behavior. It is a short-term treatment plan that helps patients identify destructive thoughts and emotions. It teaches techniques and methods to control destructive thoughts easily.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy is not only for people with anxiety disorders. It also works for people with anger issues, addiction, eating disorders, stress, bipolar disorders, and even depression. CBT helps people focus on their present thoughts through self-monitoring and goal setting.

If you are interested in learning about this particular method and how it can help, here are the frequently asked questions about cognitive behavioral therapy.

What does cognitive behavioral therapy involve?

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a kind of talk therapy that typically lasts around 30 minutes to an hour per session. You can choose to have one-on-one sessions or do it with a group. Since it is a problem-oriented treatment, your therapist will help you break down a problem into distinct components made up of your thoughts, emotions, and behaviors.

Once you’ve identified these harmful thoughts, you can work on forming more helpful practices to embed in your everyday life. Your therapist may issue homework or worksheets to monitor your progress and help build the habit.

What is an example of cognitive-behavioral therapy?

CBT is useful for a wide range of problems and may also be used to treat individuals with substance use disorders. In this case, a therapist may start by asking how you got into the habit in the first place. Before a craving sets in, what do you usually think or feel? How do you feel afterward? Your therapist will work with you to anticipate high-risk situations and develop healthier coping strategies that do not involve alcohol or other harmful substances.

What is cognitive therapy?

Cognitive therapy is a form of psychotherapy that focuses on the close interrelationship between thoughts, feelings, and behavior. It is based on the assumption that certain ways of thinking or feeling influence a person’s behavior instead of chemical imbalances in the brain.

By recognizing and re-evaluating harmful thoughts, patients can build healthier thought patterns and learn better-coping strategies. Studies have shown that CBT can help patients with depression, anxiety, and phobias while relieving the symptoms of physical conditions like chronic pain, tinnitus, and rheumatism.

What are three of the goals of cognitive-behavioral therapy?

CBT aims to relieve a person’s symptoms and resolve immediate problems by forming better coping mechanisms. Even if the CBT session has ended, it is hoped that you have acquired the necessary skills to examine and respond to situations from a place of self-compassion. Lastly, CBT aims to restructure cognitive patterns to prevent relapse.

Can you do CBT on yourself?

It’s possible to do CBT without a therapist. Journaling is one CBT technique that may help you get your thoughts and emotions in order. Start by writing down a particular mood or thought, trace it to its source, rate the intensity, and describe your response. Putting your thoughts on paper might bring to the surface some cognitive distortions that you need to work on.

There are self-help books and online courses that more closely follow a face-to-face session for those seeking a more structured CBT experience.

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What is CBT not good for?

Despite its popularity, CBT may not answer patients suffering from more complex mental health conditions like schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

Therapists should adjust their techniques to patients who may not be capable of examining their thoughts and motivations. It’s important to note that CBT is only one component of a comprehensive treatment plan that should be tailored to a patient’s unique goals, personality, and condition.

What are the 4 steps of cognitive restructuring?

Cognitive restructuring is an essential part of CBT. The first step is to bring your problematic thoughts to the surface, either through conversations with your therapist or weekly activities. Once you’re aware of these cognitive distortions, it’s time to categorize them as unhealthy, harmful, or unproductive.

From then, you can proceed to challenge the thought and dissect it even further. Finally, you’re ready to work on replacing the cognitive distortion with more helpful and rational ways of thinking about a situation.

Is cognitive-behavioral therapy the same as behavioral therapy?

No. As the name suggests, CBT draws on both cognitive and behavioral therapy approaches. It is based on the assumption that thoughts precede feelings and shape behavior, reflecting its heavy cognitive focus. When patients recognize their problematic thoughts and beliefs, they are better positioned to react and respond more healthily.

How long does it take for cognitive behavioral therapy to work?

Like most treatments, the results of CBT are not immediate and vary per person. Some patients report improved outcomes after a few weeks, while others may only notice changes after several months. Traditional CBT treatments are usually staggered over 12-20 weeks.

While CBT may not cure your condition, it can equip you with the necessary tools to approach situations differently.

What is the success rate of cognitive-behavioral therapy?

Research shows that CBT is up to 75% effective in helping patients with anxiety and moderate to severe depression. In some cases, CBT may even be as effective as antidepressants, although it is more commonly used in tandem with prescription medication and other therapy methods.

Conclusion

The most important thing to remember if you’re suffering from any mental health problem is to believe there is hope. If you or a loved one have any mental health issue, do not hesitate to reach out to professionals for help. As much as possible, do not keep it all to yourself. Relying solely on your friends is also not advisable. Friends can listen to your thoughts and emotions, but they may not be able to provide the help you need.

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People are getting the help they need through advancements in psychology.  With CBT, negative thoughts and emotions are transformed into healthy actions.  This method makes it easier for people suffering from crippling emotions to function better in society and their relationships.

Over time, the effects of therapy will manifest. Self-awareness will be present both in and outside therapy. You will also learn the values of sharing with other people and talking about how you feel.

Although CBT  is well-researched, it does not mean that it is for everyone. This relatively short-term method is very structured, and therapists practicing it rarely deviate from their plans. Changes, too, are not instant. You will need to focus and trust the process to spark change. 

It is essential to trust in yourself and your therapist. CBT is not a cure. It provides the means to get you where you need to be. It is a ray of hope for people to move on from deep emotional and mental health problems.