Decoding Therapy: What is CBT?
This post is the first in a series introducing the types of therapy I use in my practice called "Decoding Therapy". Like any profession, therapy has its own terminology that can seem baffling if you have never encountered it before. It also makes choosing a therapist daunting if you cannot tell if their approach is right for you.
The first post in this series is on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, a term you may have heard before. This therapy modality has been one of the most exhaustively researched and has been shown as an effective treatment for anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, eating disorders, substance use, and more (apa.org).
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) teaches us how to identify negative patterns of thinking and behaving. These negative patterns lead to negative feelings and outcomes. By identifying them, we can then create a plan for change. In short, the way we think affects the way we feel and behave. If we can change the way we think, we can change our feelings and behaviors as well.
CBT is one of the more goal oriented therapies, meaning that the aim of the work is to address the needs you have and to help you feel better sooner. CBT is designed so that you learn the skills you need to counter unhelpful, negative thoughts on your own. This is one of the things I value most about CBT. Therapy should empower you to be able to help yourself through validation, education, and practice. CBT is a helpful way of doing so.
One of the misconceptions people may have about CBT is that it is a rigid, set process. The reality is that CBT can be tailored to meet your needs. While the focus is always on changing unhelpful thoughts and behaviors, you and your therapist can collaborate to find the best method of doing so for you.
My goal is to try to lift the curtain on types of therapy models by briefly outlining the underlying theory and goals of the therapy. This blog post is not an exhaustive review of CBT by any means. An experienced therapist can provide more information and talk with you about whether or not CBT is best for you and your goals.