As the world has shifted into the structure brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, people are learning how to approach problems in a new way. Social distancing and virus containment measures mean that work, school, recreation, and healthcare require adapting to a world that is much different than it was, before. Learning to approach problems in a new way is exactly the task of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.
What Is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?
Clues to the nature of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or CBT, are within the name. The theoretical idea is that our internal thoughts, or cognitions, are what drive our observable behaviors. A trained CBT therapist will work with a client to discover the core beliefs which prompt a person to behave in ways that are not conducive to a healthy lifestyle, and will help a client to identify the core beliefs which are more helpful.
Once core beliefs are identified, a CBT therapist and client will work on identifying the situations which activate, or trigger, the types of attitudes and behaviors that a client is seeking to change. Much of our emotional suffering and dysfunctional thought is rooted in our experiences of the past. The process of CBT teaches a person to focus more on what is happening in the present time. This is accomplished through a detailed investigation of the components involving recent situations, including the event, the feelings experienced, and the automatic thoughts that a client formed during the experience.
How Does Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Work?
By helping to bring a client’s focus back from the past and into the present and future, a CBT therapist is providing the client with the opportunity to learn new ways of interpreting reality. Old, dysfunctional, ways of looking at things are slowly rewired into perspectives that allow a person to take more control and to be more proactive when handling situations that have been previously considered as overwhelming, distressing, or stressful.
As we explore our own thinking, we find that there are often ideas and conceptions that we hold onto, even though these types of thoughts are not producing the outcome that we desire. When a particular thought does not lead to an outcome that is useful, these thoughts are considered to be irrational. Through identifying these irrational thoughts, and then learning to substitute them with more helpful ones, a CBT client can slowly begin to restructure his or her life in a way that brings more satisfaction. Some of the more common irrational thoughts that hold us back from our full potential include avoidance, biased thinking, self-criticism, and rumination.
What Does Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Help With?
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy has enjoyed a long reputation for being effective in treating disorders involving depression and anxiety. As the popularity of CBT grew, it was also found to be useful in treating mental health issues such as Borderline Personality Disorder, Bipolar Disorder, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, and Schizophrenia. Basically, if there are dysfunctional thoughts involved,
CBT can help.
CBT for Depression and Bipolar Disorder
Depression and Bipolar Disorder are in the class of mood disorders. Mood, or persistent feelings, can be both an initiator of dysfunctional thought or can be affected by dysfunctional thought. A therapist trained in CBT will work with you to find which event – the thought or the feeling – tend to occur first, and then will assist you in intercepting and balancing the event before it spirals into extreme feelings of depression or mania.
CBT for Anxiety and OCD
Anxiety disorders involve irrational thoughts and feelings about the possibility of a future event. A person who is anxious will be putting his or her mental and emotional energy into trying to avoid supposed or imagined negative events that have yet to occur. Your CBT therapist will work with you to uncover the types of events that lead up to your anxiety behaviors and will assist you with bringing your fears more in line with the reality of what is happening in the present time.
CBT for Borderline Personality Disorder
Clients who are diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder can also have symptoms associated with depression and anxiety. The core of this disorder involves a person’s inability to properly regulate the self and properly interact with others. This inability is often rooted in the experiences that a diagnosed person had in childhood. The dysfunctional behaviors are tied to irrational beliefs about the world and the self that have been kept for longer than necessary, and a CBT therapist can assist you in getting rid of the old techniques by substituting them with new ones.
CBT for Schizophrenia
Those suffering from Schizophrenia and other psychoses tend to have very complex thought structures involved in their delusions, which makes the thought-based nature of CBT very applicable. A trained CBT therapist will explore the underlying, irrational, beliefs that contribute to a client’s unique interpretation of the world, and will encourage him or her to develop cognitions which are more firmly grounded in reality.
How Does Online Cognitive Behavioral Work?
Because CBT takes a very structured approach and involves quite a bit of homework in between sessions, it is an ideal candidate for an online therapy approach. Online CBT often operates similarly to a self-help course, with the therapist acting as a guide. Conversations with your therapist may take place over the phone or through video conference, and therapists may ask you to submit electronic assignments, such as journals or thought records, in lieu of handing them in, personally.
You may be asked to correspond with your therapist through emails, web portals, or text. Unlike with the audio conversations which take place in an office setting, submitting information in written form means that you will be able to take comfort in knowing that your CBT therapist is carefully reviewing the information, and that you will be able to review the correspondence at your leisure. Online CBT therapy also provides a convenient way to stay on track with the assignments that may be needed to be completed before each session.