WHAT IS COGNITIVE BEHAVIOR THERAPY?
Why do people feel how they feel, and do what they do? If you ask a cognitive behavioral therapist they will tell you it is because they think how they think!
Picture yourself on an airplane heading to Hawaii. What do you imagine would be going through your mind? Perhaps visions of soft sand, clear water, tropical paradise. What feelings arise for you as you do this? Common responses include words like excited, happy, and relieved.
Now picture a passenger across the aisle who has a fear of flying. What would you imagine is going through their mind? Perhaps thoughts like I’m going to die, the plane is going to crash, etc. What do you imagine that this person is feeling? Common responses include fear, panic, and anxiety.
Typically we say things to ourselves like “being on a plane makes me nervous,” but as we can see from the example above it is not the plane that makes someone nervous, but it’s their thoughts about being on a plane!
Through CBT we work to identify the thoughts that people have when they are feeling in ways that they don’t want to feel either depressed or anxious, angry, etc. We help them evaluate those thoughts as we know from decades of research and practice is that the thoughts we have when we feel bad are often negatively biased and not totally true. Yes planes crash, and plane crashes are rare. Fatal car accidents are far more common, and yet people with fear of flying often have no problem driving.
Through this process of evaluating and changing thoughts, people feel better, do more and build new patterns of thought and behavior that help them stay better.
CBT has proven effective for depression, anxiety, anger, relationship issues, insomnia, PTSD, OCD, panic attacks, phobias and more.
If you are interested in learning more about CBT please visit the website of the Academy of Cognitive Therapy.