Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is commonly used (interchangeably) with psychodynamic psychotherapy, to provide a holistic approach to healing, and assist patients along their journey of personal growth. CBT theory identifies automatic, inaccurate, negative thoughts as the cause of unhealthy moods and behaviour in certain situations, revealing itself as anxiety, eating disorders, and other issues.
CBT enables you to change behaviors that have a negative impact on your life by replacing self-defeating, detrimental thoughts with rational and positive ones.
Conditions and problems that may benefit from cognitive behavioural therapy include, but aren’t limited to: grief, anger, abuse, depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders, medical illnesses such as chronic fatigue syndrome, sleep disorders, work problems, relationship problems, sexual disorders, phobias, eating disorders and substance abuse disorders.
The Five Steps of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Although there are different ways to conduct cognitive behavioural therapy, CBT typically includes these five steps:
identify, awareness, response, challenge, change.
Maximizing The Therapeutic Process
There are a number of suggestions that increase the effectiveness of CBT. Consider yourself in a partnership with your therapist. You play an active role in the progress of your therapeutic process. Make sure your therapist has a client-centered approach where together you define the issues and share in the decision-making.
The more able you are to put the issues on the table without censoring them, the easier it will be to put the pieces of the puzzle together that define where your work is.
It is crucial that you be as open and honest as you can without holding back any information. Your therapist is an objective support for you without judgment or negative criticisms. If you have any ambivalence, share this with your therapist so that you can work through it to a more open place of communication.
There are times during the therapeutic process where you may be feeling reluctant to attend therapy. This usually signifies a breakthrough point in your treatment, the point when many individuals attempt to sabotage their progress often subconsciously. This occurs because a breakthrough pushes you forward to a deeper level of self-awareness and responsibility where you have never been before emotionally. It doesn’t have to be positive to be comfortable, it just has to be familiar to you. The tendency is to back up to what is familiar even if it is unpleasant because you already know how to deal with what you’ve learned over your lifetime. Any forward movement away from the familiar can cause distress initially since you are now having to learn to deal with issues from different unknown place that is new to you using a different set of skills that may feel unfamiliar. If you have any reservations about therapy, let your therapist know during your next session instead of skipping it.
There is no quick fix to healing from deep emotional issues where you may have to confront your past and current conflicts, and the process can be painful.
Don’t be discouraged if you feel worse at times during the initial part of therapy, especially when you begin to face issues you may have been ignoring or unaware of. The process of therapy may require hard work and it teaches you patience and a deeper belief in yourself. It may be several sessions before noticing improvement.
For the therapeutic process to be successful you must feel comfortable with your therapist. Otherwise you will not trust them enough to open yourself up to share the vulnerable parts of yourself. If at any point during therapy you feel uncomfortable it is important to share this information with your therapist.