What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or CBT, for short? Those 3 simple letters have been thrown around in the psychology circles for decades… but are just now trickling into Mainstream Media.
Well, if you ask me, CBT = Superhero Studies. It has been one of the most effective practices in my recovery from anorexia/bulimia.
According to the Beck Institute’s Foundation for Cognitive Behavioral Therepy:
“Cognitive behavior therapy is one of the few forms of psychotherapy that has been scientifically tested and found to be effective in hundreds of clinical studies for many different disorders” –BeckInstitute.org
The focus of cognitive behavioral therapy is on the present, aka mindfulness, and is a practice of problem-solving.
CBT teaches lifelong skills:
- Identifying Distorted Thinking
- Modifying Beliefs
- Changing Behaviors by TACKING THE THOUGHTS.
The basic understanding of Cognitive Therepy is that it works with the thought process.
If you look at the cognitive model below, there are 4 crucial steps to consider:
- Event: Some event happens in your life
- Thoughts: You begin to analyze the event with thoughts, opinions, judgements etc.
- Emotions: Your specific thoughts lead to internal and/or external emotions.
- Behavior: Your emotions trigger a specific behavior (or response) to the event
How CBT Works
Practitioners of CBT help patients evaluate distressed thoughts. When a human being experiences situational distress – be it ongoing or following a particular event – irrational and unrealistic thoughts often follow. Some of these thoughts include catastrophizing, self-defeating, and mind-reading.
- Catastrophizing: Black and white thinking with no middle ground or “grey areas”
- Self-Defeating: Inward blame, self-hate, insecurities
- Mind-Reading: The ability to decide what others are thinking or how they will respond”
This forms of irrational thinking lead to realative emotions, and then follow with behaviors. Through the practice of CBT, patients learn to essentially pause at the thought process, and reevaluate the validity of their current thoughts. Once those thoughts are proven unrealistic and irrational, emotions change as well as the proceeding behaviors.
For example: Susan goes out to dinner with her friends on a Saturday night. They all drive together in her friend Kathy’s car. Following dinner, they all pay with their credit card, jump into the car and head to another venue where their friend is playing music in a band. The venue is on the other side of town. Once at music venue, Susan realizes that she left her credit card at the restaurant. This is the event. Following the realization (event) Susan begins to think, “I am such an idiot (self-defeating). Kathy is going to think I am such a scatter -brain (mind-reading). It’s probably stolen by now (catastrophizing). My friends are never going to want to hang out with such a mindless loser (self-defeating, mind-reading, and catastrophizing)!”
Without CBT, these irrational thoughts will follow with negative emotions and then negative responses/behaviors. Susan may feel worthless, friendless, or worse. Following these emotions, will come self-sabotaging, victimizing, and numbing behaviors, like Eating Disorder behaviors or substance abuse.
With CBT Practice, patients learn to reevaluate their thoughts and in return feel and react in more rational ways.
Here is a Judith Beck Video courtesy of the Beck institute on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. I highly recommend you visit their website for more detailed information on CBT!