Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a therapeutic approach based on the cognitive model: how we interpret situations influences how we feel emotionally. CBT has demonstrated strong empirical support for the treatment of a wide variety of mental health concerns related to depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and others. CBT is generally focused on the present, time-limited, and oriented toward solving problems. Through use of CBT principles, one can learn skills to change maladaptive behaviors, identify distorted thoughts, and modify irrational beliefs. Within counseling, it is common for the therapist to structure the sessions and actively challenge the client in a collaborative manner. Within this working alliance, it is common to engage in active problem solving, come up with alternative ways of thinking and/or behaving, and commit to engaging in therapeutic homework (related to specific therapeutic goals) between sessions.

The idea is to gain a concrete and fact-based understanding of what thoughts and behaviors enable one to do well, so that those thoughts and behaviors can be strengthened through reinforcement and repetition. Maladaptive thoughts and behaviors are challenged through questioning their validity, seeking evidence for and against false beliefs, and actively testing out hypotheses that beliefs or situations are truly as they appear.

How to Challenge Cognitive Distortions – Part Two

“The world we have created is a product of our thinking; it cannot be changed without changing our thinking.” – Albert Einstein In my last post, “How to Challenge Cognitive Distortions – Part One,” we began to explore some common types of cognitive distortions and the accompanying challenge(s) to each. Just about all of us…

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How to Challenge Cognitive Distortions – Part One

“No problem can withstand the assault of sustained thinking.” – Voltaire Our experience itself is not responsible for how we feel… it is our thoughts that assign meaning to and interpret our experience.  These meanings and interpretations – the stories we tell ourselves – result in the experience of emotion.  We all have an enormous…

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Gaining Control is as Easy as A-B-C-D-E

“The best years of your life are the ones in which you decide your problems are your own. You do not blame them on your mother, the ecology, or the president. You realize that you control your own destiny.” – Albert Ellis Sometimes life seems frightening, with anxiety looming around every corner.  In many ways,…

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6 Common Perfectionism Traps

“Have no fear of perfection – you’ll never reach it.” – Salvador Dali Perfectionists tend to hold very high standards for themselves and their loved ones.  They tend to visualize an ultimate successful outcome and excel at mobilizing all of their resources to move towards their chosen goal(s).  While this can be a wonderful and…

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Identify Your Core Beliefs with “Laddering”

“This is how humans are: we question all our beliefs, except for the ones we really believe, and those we never think to question.” – Orson Scott Card Our core beliefs are the most basic assumptions about our identity and place in the world.  They are the deep-seated beliefs of being lovable/unlovable, worthy/unworthy, or bad/good. …

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Identify Common Cognitive Distortions

“The world we have created is a product of our thinking; it cannot be changed without changing our thinking.” – Albert Einstein Many of the automatic thoughts that pop into our minds are distorted in some way.  Perhaps they are unrealistically negative or leave out relevant information.  The result of these distorted cognitions is typically…

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How to Discover Automatic Thoughts

“The forceps of our minds are clumsy things and crush the truth a little in the course of taking hold of it.” – H.G. Wells A key piece of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy’s (CBT) foundation rests upon the idea that thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are intertwined in a complex dance.  The idea is that if we…

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