Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
The Impact of Negative Thoughts
The basis of CBT is that situations themselves don’t upset people, but rather, it’s the meaning that they give the situations. If clients have negative thoughts, they can’t see that their perception doesn’t fit. They continue to have the same thoughts and fail to learn new things. A depressed person, for instance, might think when they wake that they can’t face going to work. They might believe that they feel awful and that nothing will go right. If they stay home from work because of these thoughts, they won’t find out if their belief is wrong. Their thoughts may develop further and lead them to believe that they’re useless, weak, and a failure.
These negative thoughts can even trigger negative emotions and behaviors, making individuals feel bad about themselves. In this case, these negative emotions may also make them more likely to avoid going to work. This vicious circle can occur with other disorders as well and could begin a downward spiral.
CBT helps clients recognize these patterns and it teaches them to step away from their automatic negative thoughts and test them first. With the depressed individual, for example, CBT would encourage them to examine real-life situations to see what happens. The goal of CBT is to correct these distorted beliefs.
CBT Strategy Types
Key Elements of Counseling Sessions
CBT is structured and doesn’t consist of clients freely discussing whatever they’re thinking in the moment. The first session involves the therapist and client getting to know each other. The client describes their problems, and they work together to set treatment goals.
The remaining sessions follow a general structure that uses the time as efficiently as possible. This structure also ensures that the therapists don’t miss any important details. While the therapist controls the topics and discussions, in the beginning, the client gains more control as they progress. By the end, this structure makes them feel empowered to keep improving themself.
Homework is another key element and an essential part of CBT. At the end of each session, the therapists assign the client activities to complete before the next session, which can include keeping a diary of situations that provoke anxiety or depression. During the next session, they review the events together and teach the client how to cope with similar situations in the future.