What Is A Cognitive Behavioral Therapist? And Should I See One?
Updated March 08, 2020
When it comes to therapy, you've probably heard quite a bit. You may have never actually gone to therapy yourself, but you probably have heard of someone else who has, or you've heard an ad on television or the radio. Or maybe you've just seen it on a TV show or in a movie. No matter how you've experienced it, you likely have some preconceived notions about therapy and what it means. But do you know the specifics? Do you know what a cognitive behavioral therapist is? Don't worry about it, because we're going to dive right into just that.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapists
When it comes to therapy the most common type that you probably think of is called 'talk therapy.' Talk therapy is about sitting down with a therapist and doing just what it sounds like, talking. You can have more structured sessions and forms of therapy where you talk specifically about the issue that you want to address, or you can have slightly more free form therapy where you can talk about anything and everything you want. Either form could benefit you, but it's going to take a little bit of effort to figure out which one you prefer.
When it comes to cognitive behavioral therapy, you're talking about a type of talk therapy that's focused on structure. With this method, you're going to have a set number of sessions, which is why it's so important that each session focuses on something important and starts working you toward a goal. It allows you to focus on inaccurate or false thinking so that you can learn new and better ways to respond to different situations. With this type of therapy, you're learning how to make better choices and decisions to change the way you behave in different situations.
How Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Works
With cognitive behavior therapy you can address multiple issues or conditions at once. Overall, you could work on things like preventing a relapse of symptoms, learning how to cope with stress, developing communication skills, learning to deal with loss, and overcoming different types of emotional trauma. In fact, this type of therapy is focused on resolving problems, which means that it's going to be quite effective for several different conditions. That means just about anyone could benefit from this type of therapy.
Those who suffer from depression, phobias, PTSD, eating disorders, OCD, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, anxiety disorders, sleep disorders, substance abuse disorders, and sexual disorders could each experience improvements as well. That's because this type of therapy focuses on the causes and the root of each of these things and seeks to change the way that you think about the things that are happening around you. By changing your thought process, you'll be better able to improve the choices you make in life and make the right type of decisions when necessary.
What To Do
If you think that cognitive behavioral therapy might be the best thing for you the first step is looking at your options. There are many therapists out there, and you want to make sure you're getting someone that you can count on to help you along this path. Therapy is a very personal thing, and you don't want to try opening up to someone that you don't feel comfortable with. That's why one of the most important things you'll want to do is talk with someone to see how comfortable you feel around them.
Find out the qualifications and the experience that a potential therapist has. You will want to ensure that the professional you choose is licensed to practice by their state, and you may want to ask them about additional training or certifications they hold that may pertain to your issues.
Once you know that the person you're looking at has the qualifications, you're going to want to start talking to them. That doesn't mean you have to jump right into having a therapy session. It means that you want to talk with them about anything at all, to get an idea of how you feel around them. If you're not comfortable around them, it's not going to be a good sign. Not only that but you're not going to get the benefits you're looking for because you won't be willing to open up to them about the things that are most important to you.
Talking to a therapist should help you understand more about their expectations for your therapy sessions as well - things like what they want to do and how they want to approach the situation are important. Talking about specific types of therapy that will be used, what your ultimate goals are, and how long and frequently your sessions are going to be will also be important. This will be a session that is somewhat give and take for each of you, so you can each get a good understanding of how the session will work and what both of you are expecting from those sessions.
The Process Of Therapy
When it comes to CBT, there are approximately four different steps related to identifying and overcoming any situations that you want. Each of these steps is going to involve an important part of the process and a part that you'll need to work on to achieve the goals that you want. By working on identifying the situation, understanding your thoughts and opinions, identifying negative thoughts, and then reshaping your method of thinking you will be able to work through the situation that you are experiencing. This type of therapy takes both time and commitment.
Identify The Situation
The first step is to identify what is going on in your life that's causing you trouble. It could be a divorce or some type of mental health disorder or anger or anything at all. Identifying what's going on and where the problem seems to start is going to be the first step, and it's going to help you work towards a resolution. You can't fix a problem that you can't first identify.
Understand Your Thoughts
Next, you need to start looking at what you think and feel about those situations. What do you understand about the situation, and how do you interpret it? What do you believe about yourself or about others in that situation?All of these things will help you create a better understanding of the current way you are handling (or not handling) the situation? Journaling everything you think and feel could be a great step in the right direction for this stage of the therapy.
Identify Negative Thoughts
Now you're going to start looking at the negative thoughts that you have about the situation at hand. Are you focusing only on the bad things? Are you thinking about things in a way that isn't even true? All these things are going to be important to be able to overcome the negative or false thinking. You need to be able to look at the current situation and understand where the negative or false thinking is hurting you or is countering your situation. By learning how to identify these types of thoughts when they occur it will be easier for you to work through the final stage.
Reshape Your Thinking
In the final stage of this process, you'll learn how to take the negative thoughts and opinions that you have and work toward changing them. You'll learn how to recognize facts and how to respond accurately to the facts rather than allowing yourself to be pulled into a fictional narrative. You'll hear how to change the way that you think about yourself, your situations and more. Not only that but you're going to learn how to turn these types of thinking into an automatic process.
In general, a cognitive behavioral therapist is there to help you with anything that you're going through. They're around to make sure that you can overcome the situations that you might find yourself in and they're also there to help you learn to overcome situations on your own. With the help of a cognitive behavioral therapist, like the some you can find at BetterHelp, you can start working toward improvements in your own life and a better understanding of how to react to anything that comes your way.