CBT Therapy – A Breakdown
By: Sarah Fader
Updated June 08, 2020
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is an extremely common type of therapy often used to treat anxiety disorders as well as depression. According to scientific research studies, CBT is as effective in the treatment of depression as antidepressants.
The most optimal treatment plan (in my opinion as an anxiety sufferer) is medication in conjunction with therapy. However, this is context-dependent. If a person is living with anxiety and feels that they don't need medication, CBT is a great place for that individual to start. The focus of CBT is on helping you understand your thoughts and thought patterns. Our thoughts can actually impact our moods. With the coping techniques of CBT, you have the power to change your feelings as well as your behaviors.
CBT teaches you about cognitive distortions. Often we are unaware of these unhealthy patterns of thinking until we learn about how they impact our lives in a pejorative way, and at that point, we can change the way we think about things. Here are the cognitive distortions:
This means that you take the negative details and magnify them. Then you ignore the positive attributes of a situation. For example, a person could focus on one negative thing and ruminate on it. Then their vision of the situation is distorted in a negative light.
2. "Black and White" Thinking
In this distortion, you see things as "black-or-white." There are no shades of gray or middle ground. Either you are perfect or you are a complete failure. There is no in-between, and we know that this is inaccurate in life.
This means that you are concluding something based on one thing that happened. Just because something occurs one time, it doesn't mean it will happen every subsequent time. This is an overgeneralization and it can be destructive to your thinking.
4. Jumping to Conclusions/Mind Reading
You cannot know what another person is thinking. In this distortion, you are jumping to a conclusion, because of your emotional reaction to another person. It's better to ask that person how they feel, rather than assume it.
This means that you imagine a terrible scenario where a horrible thing happens, based upon a tiny detail. For example, if your friend doesn't call you back, you might assume she hates you and will never be your friend again, or that she died.
Personalization means that you believe that it is about you. An event occurs and you are convinced that it was because of you. Someone's negative response is because you did something wrong. In reality, there are a number of factors at play here and it's not necessarily all about you.
7. Control Fallacies.
You see yourself as helpless and a victim of fate. There is nothing you can do to change your life, because it is predetermined and hence you are doomed. This is inaccurate, and you do have the power to make decisions and advocate for yourself.
- Fallacy of Fairness.
Life isn't fair; we've heard this time and time again. However, lamenting about how you are being treated unfairly and there is a vast conspiracy against you is also an exaggeration. There is a balance here, and it needs to be addressed.
It's important to take responsibility and be accountable for your actions. If you feel a certain way, it isn't because of someone else. They could have said something that hurt your feelings, but they didn't "make you feel that way." It's not productive to tell someone "You made me feel bad." What's more productive is to say "I feel hurt when you say ___." Use your I-statements and you will avoid this distortion.
10. Should Statements
A therapist once told me "stop shoulding all over yourself." And it's true when we say "I should do ___," it induced guilt and shame in us. There is no need to say "I should be" or "I ought to," because there is no rule book for life. You are free to do what you want when you want.
11. Emotional Reasoning
You feel a certain way, therefore it must be the truth. Feelings are not the ultimate indicator of what is logically true. You could feel that someone is angry at you, but until you check in with them and ask, you won't know the truth.
- Fallacy of Change.
We believe that we have the power to change other people if we cajole them enough. This isn't true, and a person will change on their own time.
"I'm a failure," "I'm a bad friend," "I am stupid." These are all examples of labeling. It's unhelpful to call yourself names. You are a human being with a multitude of qualities, but you are not one thing. We all have flaws, but we are not exclusively identified by them.
- Always Being Right.
Nobody is right at all times, and in fact, there is no right and wrong in a given argument. There are subjectivity and different people's perspectives. You have your opinion and I have mine. We could be looking at the same shade of green and you think it's blue, while I insist that it's green. No one is right in this situation, it's a matter of opinion.
- Heaven's Reward Fallacy
We believe that if we do the right thing, we will be rewarded somehow in life. This couldn't be further from the truth. Bad things happen to good people and vice versa. There is no one keeping score, and we do the best that we can in our lives.
Learning coping techniques associated with CBT including cognitive distortions and thought records are extraordinarily helpful for people with anxiety and depression. I can personally attest to the efficacy of CBT for myself. If you are struggling with negative thought patterns, find a therapist who specializes in CBT, you will be surprised at how much of your thoughts are distorted. It's amazing how CBT provides that level of insight into our thinking and has the capacity to better our lives.
Can you do CBT on yourself?
Cognitive behavior therapy is strongly effective, but it’s commonly associated with therapy sessions. If you can’t find a therapist right now or afford one, is there any way you can do it yourself?
Yes. Cognitive behavior therapy involves identifying your patterns of thought, how these thoughts affect your behaviors and emotions, and replacing your thoughts and habits with something more positive. If someone is mindful enough and has enough self-discipline, CBT helps with or without a therapist.
However, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t find a therapist. Even if you can do it yourself, a therapy session seems to provide cognitive behavior therapy that is much more effective.
What is an example of cognitive behavioral therapy?
Cognitive-behavioral therapy, within a few therapy sessions, can change your life. However, many do not know how it works.
Let’s say you have anxiety. There may be certain thoughts that can feed into your anxiety. For example, you may think you’re dying when you have an anxiety attack, even if you’ve experienced this multiple times. However, your worrying thoughts end up enhancing your experience.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy will help you to replace those thoughts with something that’s more helpful, such as distracting or reassuring thoughts, whenever anxiety attacks you.
How long does it take for cognitive behavioral therapy to work?
Cognitive-behavioral therapy can take multiple therapy sessions to work fully, even if you may see results earlier. This can depend on the severity of your problem, along with other factors. The therapy sessions it can take can be anywhere from three to over 10. No matter how many therapy sessions it takes, never back down from cognitive-behavioral therapy.
Also, CBT does require some dedication. Some people may end up quitting early because they do not see any results. Do not do this. Keep trying and spend weeks pursuing your goals, and eventually, you’ll see a difference. Even if change is slow, it’s still change and progress of any kind means you’re growing as a person.
What is CBT used for?
CBT is a short-term therapy technique that is versatile in its uses. You can use CBT for almost all mental health problems that can be worsened by thoughts and hobbies. For instance, you can use CBT to help with your depression, your anxiety, addiction, or to help improve your quality of life in general.
CBT is often used in combination with other forms of talk therapy. The beauty of CBT is that most people can see benefits from it quickly, and with enough discipline, they can enhance how they think and behave.
What are three of the goals of cognitive behavioral therapy?
CBT is generally divided into three goals, which can help the client improve the overall quality of life. These goals include:
- Helping the client learn the relationship between self-defeating thoughts and habits link together.
- Helping the client to change the thoughts and habits that cause negativity.
- Learning to practice other behavioral techniques, along with improving oneself even after that. CBT is most effective when combined with other forms of therapy.
Can you do CBT without a therapist?
CBT involves taking a critical look at your thoughts and behaviors, and someone who is self-aware enough may be able to do it without the help of a therapist. It’s an effective therapy because of this. With that said, we should note that CBT is much more effective when you have a therapist who can help you go even further with your thoughts. Not everyone can do CBT by themselves, and there is no shame in asking a therapist for help.
Can CBT be harmful?
CBT is one of those types of psychotherapy that doesn’t have too much harm attached to it. However, just like any therapy, it does have a few risks. CBT may involve exploring thoughts that can make you anxious and uncomfortable. However, that’s about it in regards to how it can harm you.
What are CBT coping skills?
In-depth cognitive behavioral therapy has many different coping skills that can improve how one behaves. A CBT therapist has expertise in many of the skills, and the therapist may decide which of the coping skills work the best for you. However, if you want to try the coping skills on your own, you can do them. Here are some of the coping skills CBT will teach you.
In-depth cognitive behavioral therapy can teach you meditative breathing. When one has a thought that is troubling them, breathing exercises can make it easier to push the thought away. It’s an aspect of mindfulness as well.
In-depth cognitive behavioral therapy likes promoting the positive behavioral elements. When one is experiencing intense anxiety and depression, it can be hard for them to enjoy the behaviors that they love.
With CBT, we take a critical look at our decisions. Quite often, it can be hard for you to make a decision without overthinking, or you make a decision without second thought. Decision making in the context of therapy, cognitive style, is to look at the pros and cons critically. This can help you make a more informed decision that will often lead to better outcomes.
Can CBT cure anxiety?
You can’t cure anxiety, but you can learn to cope with episodes and prevent some in the future. CBT is one of the therapies in treating anxiety that is helpful. CBT helps by changing thoughts that can lead to anxiety, or behaviors and thoughts that can make an anxiety attack even worse. Combined with medication and you can have a great way to fight back against what makes us anxious.
What do they do in cognitive Behavioural therapy?
With multiple sessions, CBT can help you change your life, but what should you expect?
The first session, like most therapy sessions, tends to involve assessment. You tell what’s going on and what you want to see changed in your life. This is usually the time to see if the therapist is going to be right for you and if a CBT treatment plan can help you.
Afterward, you start learning CBT techniques. You may get homework, where you write down your thoughts and behaviors. This can help the therapist know more about how you function. CBT sessions are structured and they target certain concepts on the client’s agenda. The therapist teaches how the client can change their thinking patterns.
Over time, as improvements happen, the amount of sessions lessen, since the client no longer needs a therapist.
Of course, while CBT follows the same beats, different therapists may have their own spin or structure.
Why is CBT so popular?
In-depth cognitive behavioral therapy is so popular because of a few reasons. For one thing, it works. No one is doubting the evidence against it. For another, it’s a simple concept to understand. Sometimes of research and therapy are complex and not digestible to the general public. The idea of looking at one’s thoughts and behaviors as a way to improve how you live is a simple enough concept for most people.
Who performs CBT?
CBT is often performed by therapists, many of whom will specialize in psychotherapy and behavioral health. Counselors, self-help gurus, and other people may teach cognitive behavioral therapy as well.
However, the person who ends up performing cognitive behavioral therapy, at the end of the day is you. You’re the one who explores your thoughts, habits, and makes changes to help your life.
How do I start a CBT session?
A CBT session involves interaction between the client and therapist. The client may have to begin this session by writing down their thoughts and behaviors, which may require a week or so of analysis. Afterward, the client and therapist work together to analyze what the client has written down. Both work together to figure out which thoughts, behaviors, and emotions are unhelpful.
This is the start of a session. Afterward, the client and therapist may figure out how the client can replace unhelpful thoughts with better thoughts, along with behaviors.
It’s something that you can do on your own, but we recommend you talk to a therapist in order to get the best results.
What are the 3 types of therapy?
There are many types of therapy, much more than three. Let’s take a look at some of them.
This is a type of therapy that involves facing one’s fears through gradual exposure. You need a trusting relationship between therapist and client as the therapist begins exposing you to fears. For example, if someone has a fear of heights, they may watch videos of high places, try a VR simulation of heights, and eventually work their way up towards a high place.
Family therapy involves looking at the family unit as a whole and seeing the relationship they have with one another, as well as the people outside. It teaches problem solving, family conflict management, and much more.
This therapy is commonly used to treat depression. It involves looking at your relationships with other people. An interpersonal therapist will typically look at how you interact with friends, family, and other people in your life. By resolving the relationships you have with people, it can help improve your overall health.
What is the goal of CBT?
CBT is a short-term therapy to help someone change their problematic thoughts and behaviors into something that is much more productive. For example, CBT for depression typically involves changing thoughts that may make you feel more upset, and habits that will feed into depression. In-depth cognitive behavioral therapy may be shorter term, but it is effective. In many cases, CBT may lead to other applications beyond its initial goal. For example, after improving your depression, you may want to use in-depth cognitive behavioral therapy to improve how you work.
What are CBT interventions?
CBT interventions, also known as CBT techniques, are methods you can try in order to get the most out of CBT. For example, some people may journal their thoughts and figure out which thoughts are unhelpful. Others may try different behaviors and see which ones work the best for them. Another CBT intervention can be exposure therapy, which can involve slowly facing your fears.
What is the main focus of cognitive therapy?
CBT focuses on the relationships between your thoughts and your actions. When you have troubling thoughts, it can cause you to perform bad habits, which can feed your thoughts further. CBT tries to make one replace their bad thoughts with something more productive, and work on one’s habits as well.
What are CBT core beliefs?
These are what people think about themselves and the people around them. These core beliefs can form any time, but they often happen when a person is young. These beliefs can be positive, but they can also be negative. For example, someone may have a core belief that they are weak because they cry.
Core beliefs can change depending on the situation. A confident person, for example, who has a core belief that they are strong, may feel weak whenever an anxiety episode happens.
CBT hopes to examine one’s core beliefs to see which ones are helpful and which are unhelpful. It is possible to change one’s core beliefs with time, especially if there is little evidence to back up one’s beliefs. When your mind convinces you that something is not true, these are known as cognitive distortions.
How much does CBT cost?
CBT can be done by yourself with enough self-discipline, but most people may want to seek help from a specialist. Therapists can cost $60 to hundreds of dollars per session. It all depends on who you are seeing and where you live. Insurance, pro bono therapy, and public clinics can help you to reduce the cost or be able to get therapy for free. Since you’ll need multiple sessions, it can add up fast in cost.
Should statements CBT?
Should statements, in the context of CBT, include challenging yourself when you say you should have done something. For example, if you forgot to shower today, you may think to yourself, “I should have showered.” It’s important to counter that thought with a “why” statement. “Why didn’t you shower?” With “should’ thoughts, we sometimes let ourselves off the hook because we believe what we should have done is not a requirement, but a statement.
How much does CBT therapy cost?
It depends on the therapist and location. Many therapists provide cognitive behavioral therapy, but those who specifically dab in it can cost anywhere from $175 to $190. Of course, most therapists go for half of that, so it all depends.
Since you’ll need multiple therapy sessions, it can be expensive. You can find therapists who accept insurance, along with low-cost therapists, so it is possible to have cognitive behavioral therapy for little to no cost.
What are the problems with CBT?
Cognitive-behavior therapy has many advantages, but just like anything, there can be some downsides as well. Now, cognitive therapy doesn't have horrifying side effects, but there are some things to keep in mind, such as:
- Commitment. Someone who tries cognitive behavioral therapy has to stay committed, both in and out of the therapist’s office, and for some, that’s a little too much.
- The CBT treatment may not be good for those who have severe mental health problems or problems learning.
- With cognitive behavioral therapy, you do have to confront some emotions you have trouble with, so it can make you feel anxious. However, the emotions cognitive behavioral therapy encounters tend to not be underlying causes, which is another criticism.
Cognitive behavioral therapy is for many people, but just like any therapy type, it may not be for everyone.
Can CBT change your personality?
Cognitive behavioral therapy and other types of therapy have the potential to change your personality. Since CBT is based on exploring your behaviors and thoughts, both can change and thus have an effect on your personality. Of course, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is about ridding the destructive parts of your personality, so you’re not changing who you are, but often how you want to show yourself.
What is the success rate of cognitive behavioral therapy?
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is an approach based on evidence, and there is plenty of evidence to prove its effectiveness. According to MedCircle, cognitive therapy is about 50 to 75 percent effective. The effectiveness can depend on the severity of the issue, and the person’s willingness to try it.
Cognitive behavioral therapy can increase in effectiveness when combined with medicine, with the rate of success going up to 90 percent in some cases. Bottom line, CBT works for many people.