In recent years, the awareness around mental health has grown immensely. Particularly, the benefits of CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) have become more well known. This modality can treat mental health conditions such as addiction, anxiety, and depression.

This trend has given rise to cognitive-behavioral therapists and specialists in the field. And for good reason — whether you or a loved one is suffering from a panic disorder, eating disorder, panic attacks, or simply looking for a way to manage stress — CBT focuses on the most direct ways to address these psychological issues.

In this article, we will explain how cognitive behavioral therapy works, its benefits, and best practice CBT techniques.

What is Cognitive Behavior Therapy?

What is Cognitive Behavior Therapy?

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a powerful framework used to treat a range of mental health conditions across the globe. Created in the 1960s, it was the first approach to healing psychological conditions that truly considered the important connection between thoughts and behavior.

Cognitive therapy allows individuals to reverse negative thoughts and focus on what is within their control. This means patients are less affected by external events and circumstances that had previously dominated their thinking. It also sets CBT apart from the types of therapy that came before it.

How Does CBT Work?

Cognitive-behavioral therapy focuses on treating psychological issues via psychotherapeutic methods. Everyone has naturally occurring negative thoughts. CBT targets these destructive thought patterns, particularly those suffering from addiction, anxiety, or low self-esteem.

CBT identifies these disturbing thoughts, challenges them, and replaces them with more goal-oriented and accurate thoughts. By doing this, cognitive behavior therapy is able to put the patient’s focus on the things they can change in the present moment — enhancing their mood, confidence, and overall happiness.

One of the things that makes CBT so powerful is that people have a newfound understanding of the way their mind works. They learn the science and psychology behind the ways their thoughts affect their behavior and emotions. CBT also teaches you to filter your thoughts to stop negative patterns before they take over, which can eliminate the symptoms of common mental health conditions.

What Can CBT Help With?

CBT can help with a range of psychological problems and disorders, such as:

Anxiety

Some people suffer from excess anxiety, fear, and panic. In more extreme cases such as social anxiety disorder or generalized anxiety disorder, panic and anxiety attacks are a common occurrence. These people often have a distorted view of the situation by focusing on worst-case scenarios. You can undergo CBT for anxiety to manage and overcome these troubling conditions. This is because CBT gradually exposes you to your fears instead of outright avoiding them.

Depression

Depression can be a crippling state. Those suffering from depression often neglect to interact with their friends or family, stop engaging in activities they used to love, or even have trouble getting out of bed in the morning. CBT isolates the thought patterns that cause depression, helping you to make life changes that create a healthier mindset.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

OCD causes people to obsess over certain thoughts or actions. This can include dwelling on negative events or finding flaws in every situation that must be made perfect. CBT is perfectly designed to treat OCD because it can document these thoughts and work backward to reframe them. This allows those with OCD to respond differently to long-term behavior shifts.

Addiction

If someone is suffering from addiction or substance abuse, cognitive behavioral therapy can treat these negative habits. It helps the person understand how their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors affect each other and lead to drug abuse.

Eating Disorders

Binge eating, bulimia, and anorexia are all eating disorders that are primarily psychological. CBT can be an important part of therapy to change someone’s approach to eating and the underlying emotions that cause such conditions.

Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia can include symptoms such as hearing voices, seeing delusions, or otherwise experiencing a false reality. This condition causes a lot of stress, which only exacerbates schizophrenia. Cognitive behavior therapy is used as a way to disrupt this cycle and rewire the way the person thinks.

CBT also helps with the following:

  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Self-harm
  • Bipolar disorders
  • Phobias
  • Anger issues
  • Distress due to pregnancy and female hormonal changes
  • Chronic illnesses
  • Chronic pain
  • Insomnia
  • Relationship issues
  • Loss or grief
  • Divorce and breakups
  • Lack of self-esteem
  • High stress
  • Psychotic disorders
  • Borderline personality disorders

Top 6 Benefits of CBT

CBT therapy was originally developed to meet a variety of needs including problems with a substance use disorder, positive self-talk, and more. Let’s explore the 6 primary ways that CBT helps with thought processes where other forms of therapy fall short:

1. Relatively Fast Results

CBT is known for getting results relatively quick results compared to other types of therapy. It often requires anywhere between 5 and 20 sessions of treatment. This is far less time than the months or years of traditional therapy you usually need to have results.

2. Backed By Research and Scientific Studies

Cognitive behavior therapy has been around for over 6 decades now. This has given rise to numerous studies that have performed rigorous analysis on the effectiveness of cognitive behavior therapy sessions. The science is clear: CBT outperforms other types of therapy for various mental ailments.

3. Positive Outlook on Life

People with mental conditions such as anxiety, stress, and addiction often have a dark view of their future. It can be almost impossible to think of a day when their emotions are no longer dominated by anger, fear, depression, or hopelessness.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) helps patients understand that their negative thoughts are not accurate. And they can begin to imagine the bright side of life once again.

4. Long-Lasting Positive Change

Cognitive behavior therapy teaches you to have the tools to view situations in a positive and healthy manner. You can see potential stressors and address them before they grow to become a real problem. When negative thoughts creep up, people who have undergone CBT can still prevent themselves from turning to self-destructive acts. The result is better mental health long term.

5. Hands-On

Some types of therapy are relatively passive. But one of the main benefits of CBT is the person takes an active role in their own therapy. It is very engaging, requiring two-way input throughout the process. One must take ownership of their emotions and participate in the process to develop a better toolset for managing their beliefs and emotions.

6. Prevent Relapse

When someone is dealing with mental health conditions, various triggers can initiate their symptoms. However, once they have gone through CBT, they can remain calm and think their way through emotional periods. Therefore, one of the main benefits of CBT is preventing relapses.

In addition to these benefits above, it should be noted that CBT also carries a lower risk than other options. It does not require dangerous medications or any kind of intense physical exertion. It simply helps people address their fears and negative thoughts while replacing them with positive emotions.

How to Implement Beneficial CBT Practices

In randomized controlled trials, the best practices for CBT therapy include a qualified individual leading the process for the person suffering from mental conditions. Social anxiety and other ailments can lead to fear, hesitation, and even outright rejection of change for the patient.

For that reason, any CBT therapy should be done under professional supervision. This is in the best interest of the person needing relief from depression, anxiety, and whatever other problems may be harming their mental health.

Common CBT Interventions

CBT takes place in a variety of ways, including:

Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT)

MBCT has been endorsed by the UK National Institute of Clinical Excellence for its effectiveness in treating clinical depression. The prestigious national institute also spoke to its ability to prevent relapses of depression and its application to other medical conditions.

MBCT is one of the few therapeutic approaches that focus on combatting stress and depressive symptoms in real-time — right when they arise.

Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) combines cognitive-behavioral techniques with mindfulness activities and strategies to help you better understand and manage your thoughts and emotions.

Meditation is one form of mindfulness therapy. It promotes greater self-awareness because you capture a negative thought the second it presents itself in order to turn off the negative chatter.

Simply breathing in the present moment, or paying attention to the “here and now”are forms of CBT sessions in the context of MBCT. However, patients are not instructed to judge their thoughts. Instead, they first simply acknowledge that they’re happening, in order to separate their sense of their identity from their thoughts.

Cognitive Restructuring

Cognitive restructuring — also called cognitive reframing — is another common CBT intervention. It enables patients with mental disorders to reframe the way they see things. If they recognize that certain negative thinking is harmful, patients can learn to view it in a new light.

People can learn about cognitive mistakes and limiting beliefs that are holding them back from feeling more confident and the self-control to dictate their own emotions.

It often involves a series of questions such as:

  • Why do I think this is true?
  • Where did my beliefs come from?
  • Are my beliefs helping me, or hurting me?
  • Are my beliefs holding me back?
  • What can I do to change my beliefs?

Cognitive Journaling

Cognitive journaling is another technique that utilizes thought patterns to evolve your thinking. It uses the ABC model, which stands for:

  • Activating Event – The event itself and your interpretations of it.
  • Beliefs Surrounding the Event – These beliefs can either be rational, or they can be irrational.
  • Consequences – The results of your evaluations and how they make you behave or feel.

By engaging in this exercise, temporary stress replaces long-term psychological distress. The patient learns coping skills to eradicate negative emotions and find healthier alternatives for a positive outcome. Their thoughts are journaled and thus can be addressed, instead of turning to automatic negative thoughts.

Identifying Fears

Clinical psychology often dives into peoples’ pasts to analyze those events. But continually focusing on negative experiences is the cause for many mental health conditions. Instead, CBT intervenes in the patients’ psychology by calling out fears directly. If something is causing emotional responses in the moment, CBT works to understand them. Once they are understood, they can be defeated instead of turning into anxiety disorders or other forms of mental illness.

Best Practices for CBT

As with any method, the benefits of cognitive behavioral therapy must be achieved through proper application. Whether it is relaxation techniques, treating an obsessive-compulsive disorder, how many sessions, or the best ways to approach substance use disorder, the benefits of cognitive behavioral therapy only come with a diligent commitment to a sound process, such as:

Embracing the Difficulty of Change

Change is difficult. People may recognize that they need to relieve themselves of negative beliefs, but it doesn’t come easy. Mentally preparing oneself for the gauntlet of personal growth is a must.

Use a Structured Approach

The benefits of CBT assume that you are present with caring, experienced professionals. These experts should guide you through the various stages of CBT to overcome your natural resistance to new beliefs and lifestyle changes.

The Willingness to Change

The research is in: even in randomized controlled environments, the participants must have the desire within them to change their lives and circumstances. Substance use disorders and psychological challenges take great willpower to reverse.

A Final Word

Effective treatment of any medical condition or substance use disorder has its learning difficulties. Your daily life and thought processes need to be guided by a CBT therapist that can help you overcome stressful situations. If you are struggling with substance abuse stemming from a substance abuse disorder, you’re not alone.

There are many benefits to allowing Profound LA to help you in a series of CBT treatments. If other therapies and other treatments have not worked for you, there is little risk in participating in a mindful process that helps you gain control of your life again — as many patients have found.

Contact us today at [email protected] or (310) 929-9456 to see if your health insurance will cover some or most of your expenses.