Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) encourages you to observe how your thinking influences your feelings, your interactions, and the types of experiences you habitually attract in your life. You learn how to restructure how you think and what you think so that you can stop negative thinking and start positive thinking. In this article “thoughts” and “beliefs” and “thinking” and “believing’ are used interchangeably. *

Maybe you have not considered that your thoughts influence your world, and your experience in life. If not, this will be an eye opener. Maybe you have not realized that your thoughts affect your body, your health, your energy, and your ability to sleep deeply and peacefully through the night. In fact, your body hears every word you think and speak. What if that headache, backache, or other physical symptom could be relieved with CBT? Identifying a problematic thought/belief and changing it may be the start for you to minimize stress and increase satisfaction with your life.

Through CBT you are able to recognize harmful or self-defeating patterns of thought and reconfigure healthy, self-supporting patterns of thought. You learn how to create new thoughts that are positive and that affirm who you want to be and how you want to live. They can affirm the best and highest vision you have for your life, your relationships, your prosperity, your satisfaction, and your joy.

CBT offers specific concrete ways of approaching challenges and problems. There are thoughts behind all personal problems and issues. And there are thoughts in reaction to the problems and issues. You have a gold mine of thoughts to work with. And you discover just how busy a mind you have, a mind that is always thinking, commenting, judging, and imagining.

One of the challenges of being human is that many of us humans seem to engage in a lot of judgment.
We take every opportunity to make someone wrong. Often that person is us! We feel guilty. We feel ashamed. And we do not know how to talk about these painful feelings. CBT offers a way to talk about them and then learn to change the guilt and shame thoughts that are causing anxiety, depression, and self-defeating and unproductive behaviors.

Often CBT is integrated into Psychodynamic Psychotherapy. It should be noted that while CBT is sometimes offered as a stand-alone therapy, it is usually recommended that it be combined with Psychodynamic Psychotherapy. Human beings are complex. A psychotherapist needs to take a full history and, in collaboration with you, begin to take stock of significant events in and aspects of your life that may contribute to your thoughts and beliefs. Be sure to choose a psychotherapist who has at least two years of experience post licensure and who preferably has postgraduate training in psychotherapy (and/or psychoanalysis).

All this is in service of managing stress, anxiety, depression, grief, unhappiness, dissatisfaction, low self-esteem, resentment, and difficult relationships. You learn a skill set to take home and use for the rest of your life. You begin to listen to and hear how you think and to question; “Is this a helpful thought/belief or is it a harmful thought/belief?” “Does it enhance me or does it drain me or bring me down?” And “who would I be without that thought and how would I feel without that thought?”

If you are looking to reduce stress, to decrease symptoms of anxiety, depression, worry, guilt, and shame, it may well be that engaging in CBT will offer you more perspectives, wisdom, solutions, and freedom than you had imagined. And the amazing thing is that these will be self-discoveries. They will emerge from the inside, from you, with only the therapist guiding you. At all times you will be in charge of the process, the pace, and the direction. You need only locate a licensed psychotherapist with whom you feel comfortable and who you feel is competent to assist you. Ideally, your relationship will be a collaboration. And having fun with the process is allowed!

Who does CBT? The therapists who do CBT usually are from the professions of Clinical Social Work, Mental Health Counseling, and Psychology. They have master’s or doctoral degrees. They need to be licensed in the states in which they practice. Some accept insurance. Some do not. Some meet with you in person. Some meet virtually online.

Honesty with your psychotherapist is essential. Honesty about the thoughts and feelings you are working with and honesty about your relationship with the therapist is necessary for you to benefit from the work of CBT. If you feel your psychotherapist misunderstands you or you feel uncomfortable with anything they say or do, it is imperative that you let them know as quickly as you can. Unrecognized and unspoken hurt, anger, confusion, or disappointment will interfere with your process and ultimately with the success of the therapy. The therapist is trained to assist you non-judgmentally with your feelings. As the therapy proceeds, it is expected that your relationship with your therapist becomes more relaxed and comfortable and you feel you can say anything that is on your mind. The process of CBT can take time. It is recommended that you attend at least several sessions. If you feel ready to leave, it is important to raise this in a session and to have proper closure.

Using CBT can be part of a journey of self-discovery and self-empowerment. Sarasota attracts people of intellect. spirit and curiosity. It is no wonder that they are attracted to cognitive behavioral therapists and the expanded ability to perceive and create that they teach you.

*” thought -1. the act or process of thinking: reflection, meditation; cogitation 2. the power of reasoning, or of conceiving ideas; capacity for thinking; intellect; imagination 3. a result of thinking; idea, concept, opinion, etc.”

“belief – 1. the state of believing; conviction or acceptance that certain things are true or real”

From Webster’s New World Dictionary, c. 1988.