In the early days of psychotherapy, therapists primarily focused on psychodynamic approaches that helped their clients gain new insights. But what happens after a client becomes more insightful? Cognitive-behavioral therapy attempts to cultivate insights while directly attacking problematic thoughts, behaviors, and patterns. Though CBT itself has existed for several decades, it has seen a surge in popularity over the past ten to twenty years, and is now very likely the most popular form of therapy.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy, as the name implies, works on cognition and behavior. Therapists endeavor to first help their clients detect automatic, unhealthy thought patterns such as, "He didn't call me because I'm not good enough" and, "Since he didn't call me, it must mean I'll be single forever." By identifying these thoughts, therapy clients become better equipped to disrupt them and replace them with healthier thoughts, such as, "There are many reasons he might not have called, but I'm happy with myself and so will move on with my life."
For instance, a woman who is insecure about her body might refuse to go out when she's feeling "fat," engage in compulsive exercise, or refuse to allow her partner to see her naked. CBT therapists work to correct these behaviors.
CBT is highly practical. Rather than focusing on thoughts, memories, and feelings, it aims to help clients cope with the challenges of the here and now. A CBT client could conceivably spend years in therapy without ever discussing a painful memory, and might still get better. Because of this strong focus on practical skills, most CBT therapists give their clients lots of homework.
The effectiveness of CBT is partially dependent on the client. Your willingness to do your homework, explore your thoughts, and understand your behaviors is a significant predictor of your long-term success.
Studies have repeatedly shown that CBT can be highly effective, often working much more quickly than other therapies. However, it is unlikely to work with people currently in crisis. No matter how hard you work to change your thoughts and feelings about domestic violence, CBT won't change the pain of being in an abusive relationship. Likewise, CBT may not be effective for abuse survivors, since survivors may feel that CBT pathologizes their feelings, thereby stunting the healing process.
In recent months, CBT has come under fire for its focus on the here and now. Some research suggests that CBT might be less effective in the long-term. Consequently, if you want the best results, it may be best to pursue CBT first to get immediate results, and then to pursue a long-term, insight-oriented approach such as psychodynamic psychotherapy.
CBT can be an excellent option for people whose negative thought patterns interfere with their daily happiness. It has proven especially effective for people who struggle with depression and anxiety, but can also help you cope with the near-constant cravings, self-loathing, and doubt that co-occur with addiction. If you struggle to achieve your goals, manage your time, or make healthy decisions, you may also benefit from CBT.
The list of groups for whom CBT won't work is significantly shorter than the list of situations in which it can be effective. In general, CBT is a bad idea if:
If you are in rehab, a therapist will likely be assigned to you. But the best predictor of therapeutic success is a strong alliance between a therapist and her client. Thus if you feel like the therapist you've been given isn't right for you, don't be afraid to ask for someone different.
If you're pursuing therapy on your own, consider asking your therapist about his or her practice. A good therapist won't shy away from pointed questions, so consider asking some of the following:
If you're tired of constant negative thoughts and an endless stream of self-loathing, don't be afraid to try this revolutionary approach to mental health. You may be surprised to see how changing a few thoughts here and there can yield real changes in your life. Life changing drug treatment treatment in Idaho is available right in the Boise area.
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