Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)

What is Cognitive behavioral therapy?

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of psychotherapy that is designed to help individuals identify and change negative or unhelpful patterns of thinking, feeling, and behaving. The goal of CBT is to help individuals develop more adaptive and constructive ways of thinking, feeling, and behaving, which can improve their emotional well-being and overall quality of life.

CBT is based on the idea that our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are interconnected and can influence each other. For example, negative thoughts can lead to negative emotions, which can in turn lead to unhelpful behaviors or actions. In CBT, individuals learn how to identify and challenge these negative thoughts and beliefs, and replace them with more positive and realistic ones.

CBT typically involves several key components, including:

  1. Psychoeducation: Clients learn about the connection between thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, and how these can contribute to emotional distress.
  2. Cognitive restructuring: Clients learn how to identify and challenge negative thoughts and beliefs, and replace them with more positive and realistic ones.
  3. Behavioral activation: Clients learn how to engage in positive behaviors and activities that can improve their mood and overall well-being.
  4. Exposure therapy: Clients learn how to confront and overcome their fears and anxieties through gradual exposure to the triggering stimuli.

CBT is a highly effective form of therapy for a variety of mental health conditions, including anxiety, depression, PTSD, OCD, and eating disorders. It is typically delivered in individual or group therapy sessions and can be tailored to meet the specific needs and goals of each client.

What is an example of CBT?

Let’s say a person is experiencing symptoms of anxiety related to social situations, such as public speaking or meeting new people. Through CBT, the therapist would work with the client to identify the negative thoughts and beliefs that are contributing to their anxiety.

For example, the client may have thoughts like “Everyone is going to judge me” or “I’m going to embarrass myself.” These thoughts can trigger feelings of anxiety and lead to behaviors like avoiding social situations altogether.

In CBT, the therapist would help the client challenge these negative thoughts and beliefs by asking questions like:

  • Is it really true that everyone is going to judge you?
  • Have you ever embarrassed yourself before? How did you handle it?
  • What is the worst that could happen if you gave a speech or met new people?

By challenging these negative thoughts, the client can start to develop more realistic and positive beliefs, such as “I may make mistakes, but that’s okay” or “I am capable of handling social situations.”

In addition to cognitive restructuring, the therapist may also use behavioral techniques, such as exposure therapy, to help the client gradually face their fears and anxieties. This may involve practicing public speaking or meeting new people in a safe and controlled environment.

Through CBT, the client can learn how to manage their anxiety and improve their social functioning, ultimately leading to a better quality of life.

How long does it take for CBT to work?

The length of time it takes for cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) to work can vary depending on several factors, such as the severity of the individual’s symptoms, their motivation and commitment to the therapy, and the specific goals of treatment. In general, however, most individuals can expect to see some improvement in their symptoms within the first few weeks or months of therapy.

Research suggests that CBT can be effective in treating a variety of mental health conditions, including anxiety disorders, depression, and PTSD, among others. Studies have found that individuals who complete a full course of CBT typically experience significant improvements in their symptoms, with many achieving remission from their condition.

The duration of CBT can vary, but it typically involves a series of weekly or biweekly sessions, each lasting around 50 minutes. The number of sessions needed can vary depending on the individual’s specific needs and the severity of their symptoms. Some individuals may start to see improvements after just a few sessions, while others may require more long-term treatment.

It’s important to note that CBT is a skills-based therapy, meaning that the skills and techniques learned in therapy can continue to be applied long after therapy has ended. This can help individuals maintain their progress and prevent relapse over the long-term.

What is life like after CBT?

After completing cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), individuals can expect to have a better understanding of their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, and have developed skills to manage their mental health symptoms. The goal of CBT is to help individuals become their own therapist, so they can continue to use the skills and techniques learned in therapy to cope with future challenges and maintain their progress.

Here are some of the potential benefits and changes individuals may experience after completing CBT:

  1. Improved symptom management: Individuals who have completed CBT can expect to have developed tools and strategies to manage their mental health symptoms, such as anxiety or depression. This can lead to improved quality of life and increased ability to function in daily life.
  2. Increased self-awareness: CBT encourages individuals to become more self-aware and recognize how their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors impact their mental health. After completing CBT, individuals may be more in tune with their emotional state and better able to identify potential triggers for negative thoughts and behaviors.
  3. Better problem-solving skills: CBT teaches individuals how to approach problems and challenges in a constructive way, rather than relying on negative thought patterns. This can lead to better problem-solving skills and increased confidence in their ability to handle difficult situations.
  4. Improved communication and relationships: By improving self-awareness and problem-solving skills, individuals may also experience improved communication and relationships with others. They may be better equipped to express their needs and boundaries and have more satisfying and fulfilling relationships.
  5. Reduced risk of relapse: By learning and practicing the skills and techniques learned in CBT, individuals may be less likely to experience a relapse of their mental health symptoms. This can help maintain long-term mental wellness.

It’s important to note that the experience of completing CBT can vary depending on the individual and their specific needs and circumstances. However, overall, individuals who complete CBT can expect to have gained valuable insights and skills to improve their mental health and overall well-being.

Getting support

Are you struggling with anxiety, depression, or other mental health concerns? At Pacific Integrative Therapy, we offer evidence-based psychological services using cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) to help you overcome your challenges and improve your mental wellness.

Our team of licensed and experienced therapists will work with you to identify the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that contribute to your symptoms, and develop practical strategies to manage them. CBT is a goal-oriented, collaborative approach that emphasizes the development of skills and tools that you can use in your daily life.

Our CBT-based services can help you:

  • Manage symptoms of anxiety, depression, OCD, and other mental health concerns
  • Improve communication and relationships with others
  • Develop healthy coping skills to manage stress and negative emotions
  • Address problematic thoughts and behaviors that impact your mental health
  • Build self-esteem and confidence
  • Prevent relapse of symptoms over the long-term

Our services are tailored to your specific needs and goals, and we use a compassionate, non-judgmental approach to help you feel comfortable and supported throughout your therapy journey.

At Pacific Integrative Therapy, we believe that everyone deserves to live a fulfilling and happy life. Contact us today to learn more about our CBT-based services and how we can help you achieve your mental wellness goals.