Therapy is shown in various ways across various forms of media. Even if you haven't gone to therapy in the past, you might have seen a depiction in a movie or heard about therapy from a friend. No matter what you've learned about therapy, outside portrayals of sessions can widely differ from real-life experience. In 2021, 41.7 million adults saw a therapist, and one in five adults had a mental illness. Going to therapy is more popular than showcased in many TV shows and films, and you do not have to be diagnosed or struggling with a medical condition to see a therapist.
One popular form of modern therapy is cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). Learning how a cognitive-behavioral therapist might benefit you can help you decide whether to try therapy for your concerns.
What Is A Talk Therapy?
You may have heard of "talk therapy" in conversations regarding therapy. Talk therapy is another term for the type of counseling that involves verbally discussing your symptoms, emotions, and thoughts with a licensed counselor. Often, it's a synonym for cognitive-behavioral therapy, referred to as CBT. Although talk therapy involves talking, many sessions can also involve learning, activities, creating art, discussing behavior patterns, or receiving advice.
What Can Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy Treat?
With CBT, you can address multiple symptoms or conditions at once. You might discuss preventing a relapse of symptoms, learning stress management in exposure therapy, developing communication skills, dealing with loss, or overcoming an adverse experience. While they do not prescribe psychiatric medications, this therapy often focuses on resolving problems using talk therapy, allowing it to treat various concerns effectively. In addition, you do not need to have mental illness symptoms to see a therapist.
CBT is a clinical practice and can be a beneficial psychological treatment to address emotional challenges and emotional health. Clinical trials have shown that it may effectively help clients manage symptoms of the following conditions:
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Eating disorders
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
- Bipolar disorder
- Anxiety disorders
- Sleep disorders
- Substance use disorders
- Sexual disorders
CBT is a form of psychological therapy that focuses on the causes and the root of each symptom and seeks to change how clients think about themselves, others, and their environments. Along with other therapies, CBT can help to change your thought process and may help you feel a sense of control and self-compassion.
How To Find Help
If you've decided you might benefit from CBT, your next step may be finding a clinical psychology provider. As one of the most popular forms of therapy, many therapists practice CBT. A few standard methods of finding support that you can use include:
- Searching online for therapists in your area
- Asking your primary care physician for a referral
- Asking friends and family for a referral
- Reaching out to your health insurance provider
- Going to a local mental health clinic
- Calling 211 for resource suggestions
When searching, ensure the providers you talk to have mental health training and have experience with your concerns. Therapy can be a personal experience, so opening up to someone you don't feel comfortable with may not benefit you. You can make a list of potential therapists and make phone calls for short consultations to ask questions while initially searching for a provider.
Once you've verified your therapist's credentials and decided on a date for an initial meeting, develop a list of questions or concerns you want your therapist to know during your first session. The intake session often involves the therapist getting to know you and asking you to help them outline your goals for treatment. If you feel uncomfortable, disrespected, judged, or uncertain, you can also try scheduling intakes with other providers to make a choice.
Talking to a therapist may also help you understand their expectations for your therapy sessions. For example, they can discuss their approach to treatment and the methods they usually utilize. They might mention if they offer homework or workbooks to clients. You can also discuss how CBT works and how long treatment might be.
Aspects Of CBT Sessions
There are four steps in CBT related to identifying and overcoming unwanted thoughts and behaviors. Each step can be as important as the last. By identifying the situation, understanding your thoughts and opinions, identifying unwanted thoughts, and reshaping your method of thinking, you can start to make changes toward your goals.
Identifying The Situation
At the beginning of your CBT therapy process, your therapist can help you identify the core causes of your intentions to go to therapy. For example, clients might bring up marital problems, anger issues, relationship conflicts, or mental illness. Identifying the mental illness symptoms that are occurring and what problem you want to tackle first can be valuable. You may struggle to find benefits if you cannot identify the problem. However, your therapist can help you come to a conclusion about this area and help you develop problem-solving skills.
Understanding Your Thoughts
After identifying your reason for attending therapy, your therapist can help you outline your thoughts surrounding that situation, including any thoughts you might think are unrelated. You can learn all you understand about the situation and gain techniques to interpret it. Your beliefs about yourself, others, and the world around you can be factored into the discussion to help you create a profound understanding of your situation. In this part of therapy, you might be asked to journal to inquire with yourself about your symptoms. Studies have found that expressive writing, like journaling, can improve mental health disorders.
Identifying Unwanted Thoughts
After understanding your situation, thoughts, and beliefs, your therapist can help you become an active participant and determine which thoughts or beliefs may be harming you. These thoughts are often referred to as cognitive distortions, and there are various categories and labels for them, including but not limited to the following:
- Black-and-white thinking
- "Should" statements
- Ignoring the positive
- Jumping to conclusions
By identifying these types of thoughts and learned patterns, you can learn how to change them. In addition, by having labels for the self-talk that happens in your mind, you may be able to better see when negative patterns occur, allowing you to prompt yourself to challenge them.
Restructuring Your Thinking
In the final stage of CBT, you can learn to take unwanted thoughts, behavioral responses, beliefs, or ideas and restructure them through your therapist's aid. They might support you in the process by giving you worksheets, workbook recommendations, or roleplay exercises. As you work through the thoughts, you can also understand their connection to your behaviors and past experiences in your own life. Your therapist can also help you develop coping skills and plans for your relationships and daily responsibilities.
Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) Options
There are thousands of CBT providers across the country, and finding one can be a straightforward process for many clients. However, if you're struggling to afford therapy, can't find a therapist in your town, or prefer to stay at home, you can also try online counseling.
With online CBT, you can attend phone, video, or live chat sessions from home and schedule appointments within your schedule, even if it falls outside of standard business hours. In addition, studies have indicated that online CBT is as effective as in-person methods in treating common mental health conditions like social anxiety disorder, generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), and depressive disorders.
If you're interested in finding a therapist within the next few days, you can consider signing up for a platform like BetterHelp, which has over 30,000 therapists, with many specializing in the unique methods of CBT.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) aims to help people recognize and challenge inaccurate thoughts and behaviors, which, in turn, often helps people change their behaviors. CBT can be effective for a variety of mental health conditions and illnesses, including depression, anxiety disorders, eating disorders, personality disorders, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. If you're interested in learning more about how CBT works, consider reaching out to a therapist for guidance. With BetterHelp, you can be matched with a therapist who has experience using CBT for various mental illnesses and life challenges. You may find that CBT helps you learn ways to challenge unhelpful thoughts, which may lead to more beneficial behaviors and emotions. Take the first step toward finding a CBT therapist and contact BetterHelp today.
Frequently Asked Questions
What does a cognitive behavioral therapist do?
What is an example of cognitive behavioral therapy?
How do I become a cognitive behavioral therapist?
What types of disorders are best treated by CBT?
What is the difference between therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy?
Who needs cognitive behavioral therapy?
What qualifications do you need to be a cognitive psychologist?
Which is better CBT or counselling?
Who benefits from cognitive therapy?
What are the disadvantages of CBT?
Can I do CBT by myself?
Can CBT help overthinking?
What questions are asked in cognitive behavioral therapy?
How do I know if I need cognitive behavioral therapy?
What are examples of CBT for anxiety?
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