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How to Gain Back Control with CBT: The Incredible Power of Your Thoughts

By Krista

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Last Updated: November 27, 2021

Our thoughts can make or break us — quite literally.

If you start telling yourself that you are unworthy or not enough, you will start believing it. And this can quickly start a downward spiral, increasing your risk of anxiety, depression, and other mental health disorders.

In contrast, if you believe you can achieve, it’s more likely you will. Surprisingly, your thoughts and beliefs often become reality. Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) forces you to challenge your negative thoughts to alter your behavior and ultimately, improve your life. So, let’s take a closer look at this topic. Is CBT right for you? What should you know?

 

What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of psychotherapy that helps a person identify unhelpful or negative thought patterns and behaviors and change them. In fact, experts even consider CBT the gold standard of therapy.

It is used to treat a variety of conditions, such as:

  • Anxiety
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Depression
  • Eating disorders
  • Personality disorders
  • Panic attacks
  • Phobias

Additionally, it can help in other situations, including:

  • Navigating through a divorce
  • Dealing with grief or loss
  • Low self-esteem
  • Chronic pain
  • Stress management

Generally, the main goal of CBT is to alter a person’s thoughts and feelings, which then helps to alter their behavior. For instance, if you fear plane crashes but you have to take a plane, CBT can help you gain better control of these thoughts so that you don’t end up crippled by fear.

CBT shows individuals that they have control over their interpretations of events, despite not having control of the world, environment, or situations around them. This helps you create healthier thinking patterns, improving your mood and life.

Related Article: 3 Easy and Simple Secrets for Relieving Morning Anxiety

 

What Are 5 Cognitive Behavioral Interventions?

Common CBT techniques may include:

1. Recognizing Negative Thoughts

A therapist uses the cognitive-behavioral approach to help you find ways to identify and challenge your negative thought patterns. In many ways, this is a guided self-discovery method, which helps you become more introspective.

2. Cognitive Restructuring

This is one of the main CBT techniques used. It involves examining your cognitive distortion (negative thought) to basically make the whole idea fall apart. This may involve categorizing your thought as black-and-white thinking, overgeneralizing, catastrophizing, and jumping to conclusions. In fact, research shows how this technique can help alter a person’s fear response since it can make the fear less fearful.

3. Goal-Setting

Setting goals helps you move forward with your life toward more positive and productive outcomes. When working with a CBT therapist, they will instruct you how to do this in an effective and efficient way. 

This often involves using the SMART method, which is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-oriented. Having goals that include these aspects is an effective goal-setting approach.

4. Problem Solving

Learning to solve problems can help you overcome life hurdles, which is something else a CBT therapist can help you with. You will learn the five steps of problem solving, including identifying the problem, listing possible solutions, exploring strengths and weaknesses of these solutions, selecting a solution to implement, and implementing the solution.

5. Self-Monitoring/Journaling

Journaling can help you monitor negative thought patterns, feelings, and behaviors. In fact, doing so can help you challenge these thoughts better with more positive ones. Further, this type of tracking can offer your therapist information regarding how to help you better.

Related Article: Mentally Exhausted? How Journaling Can Help

 

Does CBT Work? Here’s What the Research Says…

CBT has tons of research behind it all. 

A 2018 scientific review indicated the effectiveness of CBT when it came to treating anxiety. Research from 2011 suggested CBT was an efficient and effective method for helping those with depression. 

A 2017 study demonstrated how CBT can help those with OCD. In 2010, researchers examined its use in relation to substance abuse and suggested it may help individuals with addiction avoid relapse.

More recent research published in 2021 even showed the effectiveness of CBD in therapy as a virtual treatment. 

At the same time, it’s important to note that changes take time and hard work. The Mayo Clinic indicates that it can take anywhere from five to 20 sessions for CBT to be effective.

 

Finding a CBT Therapist Near You

Usually, a quick Google search will set you on the right track. However, you will want to check your therapist’s credentials before committing to any kind of payment. 

If you’re hunting for an online therapist, BetterHelp only hires licensed, trained, experienced, and accredited psychologists and counselors. 

Depending on where you live, you can also check with your local CBT organization to find out if a therapist is, in fact, certified. For example, The Canadian Association of Cognitive and Behavioural Therapies - CACBT maintains a list of certified CBT therapists in Canada. 

In the United States, certification requirements may vary from state to state. The best way to ensure you get the care you need is to do your due diligence and put in the research before booking an appointment.

 

Take That Next Step & Begin Improving Your Life Today

If CBT sounds like it might help you and your situation, don’t hesitate to book an appointment with a certified CBT therapist. Sometimes, we all need a helping hand. And therapy isn’t taboo anymore! 

If you’re unsure about therapy, you can also consider downloading various CBT phone applications, such as MindShift or CBT Thought Diary. Try them out and see if CBT is something that might help improve your life and set you up for success.

Read Next: Negative Emotions: Friends or Foes?

Photo by Mikel Parera on Unsplash

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