A Penny for Your Thoughts: An Intro to CBT (Cognitive Behavior Therapy)
I don’t know about you, but sometimes I find myself lost in a world of acronyms (ever text with a millennial?! SMH). There is, however, one acronym you should know in your pursuit of psychotherapy, and that is CBT. CBT, or Cognitive Behavior Therapy, is an overarching term used to describe an entire orientation of mental health services that is empirically supported A.K.A. (there it is, again!)- IT WORKS!
If you haven’t considered that each thought you have is a valuable “penny” contribution to your “bank” of headspace, then think again. Briefly put, our cognitions, or the way we think about things, influence our behaviors and have immediate and long-term consequences on our behavioral, emotional, and physiological responses. They also contribute to the core beliefs we have about just about everything. With the help of a CBT therapist, you can learn how to address your thoughts directly and make healthy adjustments to the negative, often irrational, patterns of thinking.
I want to make an important distinction. This is not the same as a Peter Pan-like “think happy thoughts” approach. It is a think rational thoughts approach. Thinking rationally can help reduce anxiety feelings. A CBT therapist can help you navigate through even the worst-case scenario hypothetically while disputing irrational thoughts that arise (as in REBT, or Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy: albertellis.org).
Here’s an example. “I am the WORST mother EVER.” Does this hit home for anyone? How does this thought leave you feeling? Defeated, hopeless, maybe angry, or even depressed. Now let’s adjust the thought to something more rational. “There are challenges I face as a mother, as is true of all mothers, and I am doing the best I can.” How does that sound? More importantly, how might that leave you feeling? Validated, perhaps even hopeful or motivated? Now can you appreciate how valuable a thought can be?
The decision to begin psychotherapy is a big one, and each step you take towards pursuing treatment is courageous. Remember that with the proper support, even a lifetime of “tough stuff” can be worked through.