Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

CBT is a well-established therapeutic approach with some newer versions of it that incorporate compassion and mindfulness.

A Well-Established Therapeutic Approach

​The framework teaches people to notice their cognition (another word for thoughts) at particularly emotional or behavioral cues.

For example, maybe someone wants to understand their anxiety. They may notice physical symptoms or the emotion of fear and panic. CBT would ask that they take time to notice and record the thoughts in their mind at the time of those feelings.

Using what is often called a Thought Record Sheet, the client can better link the relationship of the thoughts to the emotion / behavior / symptoms over time. Once a person does this over a period of several weeks, s/he can get acquainted with frequent thought patterns.

These thought patterns were categorized by the founder of CBT, Aaron Beck, as 10 unhelpful thinking styles. When you know your most frequent thinking styles, you get good at knowing when they’re happening and offering yourself alternative thoughts that broaden your perspective and potentially change your mood over time.

You also get to know what negative core belief about yourself may be at the heart of frequent thoughts and find ways to modify this core belief to something more adaptive and positive.

You also get to know what negative core belief about yourself may be at the heart of frequent thoughts and find ways to modify this core belief to something more adaptive and positive.

A Well-Established Therapeutic Approach

CBT with some newer versions of it that incorporate compassion and mindfulness. ​The framework teaches people to notice their cognition (another word for thoughts) at particularly emotional or behavioral cues.

For example, maybe someone wants to understand their anxiety. They may notice physical symptoms or the emotion of fear and panic. CBT would ask that they take time to notice and record the thoughts in their mind at the time of those feelings.

Using what is often called a Thought Record Sheet, the client can better link the relationship of the thoughts to the emotion / behavior / symptoms over time. Once a person does this over a period of several weeks, s/he can get acquainted with frequent thought patterns.

These thought patterns were categorized by the founder of CBT, Aaron Beck, as 10 unhelpful thinking styles. When you know your most frequent thinking styles, you get good at knowing when they’re happening and offering yourself alternative thoughts that broaden your perspective and potentially change your mood over time.

You also get to know what negative core belief about yourself may be at the heart of frequent thoughts and find ways to modify this core belief to something more adaptive and positive.

You also get to know what negative core belief about yourself may be at the heart of frequent thoughts and find ways to modify this core belief to something more adaptive and positive.

Let’s look at an example.

If a client comes in to look at social anxiety and describes unhelpful thinking styles like mind reading and jumping to conclusions, recorded thoughts might include, “They think I have nothing interesting to say,” and “They find me silent and boring.”

Those thoughts may lead to anxiety before attending a social event and then will likely be followed by obsessive review, known as rumination, after the event. The client may further jump to conclusions like, “They will not invite me the next time because I screwed it up.” Those thoughts may lead to a negative core belief such as “I’m not good enough,” or “I’m not likeable.”

In this example, the therapist would guide the client to be good and noticing when the patterns arise and looking for alternative evidence such as places where it may be irrefutable that there are people who like them.

This is then reinforced with behavioral challenges and outside homework to create more reference points for a modified core belief like, “I’m enough,” or “There are some people who like me and some who do not, and I’m learning to get comfortable with that.”

CBT is known to create immediate results, and clients report seeing a decrease in depressive moods and anxious states within 10-12 sessions. I will say, that newer research has shown that this much be accompanied by the ability to be self-compassionate and self-encouraging.

Without internal friendliness, CBT can attract goal oriented and results driven clients, but the outcomes will be temporary and /or CBT itself can be used as something they’re not doing well in life without greater internal navigation tools for riding the ups and downs of life.

I had a fantastic experience with Sarah. I would guess that, initially, I was more skeptical of counselling than most people. However, we progressed at a pace at which I felt comfortable and, as time passed, my attitude transformed. With each session my anticipation of the next session increased because it contributed so positively and immediately to my everyday life.

My life has changed because I have become a better partner, parent, friend and person.

- Name Withheld -

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