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Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

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by Eric Martin
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Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?

Cognitive behavioral therapy is one of the effective tools of Psychotherapy. Here, people who are going through mental health issues seek professional psychotherapists’ or therapists’ help to look at challenging and stressful situations of life with a positive perspective. It helps them to cope, tackle, and strategies the situations carefully with a positive outlook. You become more aware of your strength and also flaws like negative thinking, inaccurate response, and behavior to a certain situation or someone. This awareness further helps them to adjust their mindset and behavior which helps to be clear about challenging situations and respond to them effectively. 

CBT is a very short-term therapy that patients need for some time in order to learn tips, tricks, and techniques to make their lives better. So, there is a limited number of sessions made for patients by therapists in which that identify your condition and help you cope with specific types of challenges among them. Therapists can use this tool alone or also with a combination of other therapies and medications. CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) can benefit specific types of people who are going through mental health conditions and it can be an effective tool to help them manage their mental health conditions better. Patients facing depression, eating disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, and other mental health conditions can get benefit from CBT. 

The process of CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) can benefit specific types of people who are going through mental health conditions and it can be an effective tool to help them manage their mental health conditions better also can be a little uncomfortable because it leads you to the path of exploring and being aware of your emotions, feelings, and experiences but the outcome definitely help you to have a better quality of life. In addition, your professional therapist may arrange one-on-one groups with people with similar issues, an online virtual group, or people who are close to you. 

You can expect the following things during CBT:

  • Keeping calm during challenging or uncomfortable situations
  • Coping technique to help you during your tough times
  • Building resilience
  • Managing stress effectively
  • Being aware of the mental health condition you are going through
  • Being more assertive

You can seek professional help from therapists if you have mental ill health. Do not worry about opening up to therapists because you and your therapist follow certain confidentiality and safety guidelines that neither let the therapist breach your confidential information nor let you harm yourself or them in any situation. 

CBT only allows you to tackle unavoidable and unpleasant challenging situations effectively that minimize the effect on your mental health as much as possible. But it does not guarantee a total cure for your mental health condition. Consult a therapist soon if you have a severe mental illness so that they can provide you with proper treatment that may also include cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).

Who Needs to Seek Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?

CBT proves to be an effective tool for certain people. It is not beneficial and effective to patients who have learning difficulties, and complex/multiple mental health needs because it is a short-term therapy that follows proper structure. 

Cognitive behavioral therapy is specially made for people who have medical conditions like:

  • Eating disorders like binge eating
  • Chronic mental health issue
  • Depression 
  • Anxiety disorder
  • Substance abuse or addiction
  • Stress disorder in chronic to moderate levels
  • Relationship issues
  • Anorexia
  • Phobias
  • Sleep disorders
  • Low self-esteem issues
  • Body image problem
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Sexual disorder
  • Schizophrenia
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

How does Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Work?

Cognitive behavioral therapy works on patients to improve their sense of tackling certain situations that can affect their mental health in a better way. It follows a certain structure and group sessions.  In addition, your professional therapist may arrange one-on-one groups with people with similar issues, an online virtual group, or people who are close to you. To bring this tool into effect you need professional assistance and guidance of a professional and certified therapist or psychotherapist only. 

The Length of CBT Sessions Depends on the Following Factors:

  • The level of positive/negative mindset and approach of a person
  • The goal you need to achieve from this treatment
  • Type of therapy that suits your mental health needs
  • The long duration of every session you require
  • Your budget to afford this therapy
  • The number of sessions you may need
  • The speed of learning the techniques in CBT

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Further Works by Helping You do the Following Things:

  • Preventing experiences of mental illness symptoms again and again
  • Trying to cope with mental conditions with less medicinal support as much as possible
  • Busting out stressful situations with learning techniques
  • Managing mental illness symptoms
  • Managing emotions through various means
  • Resolving relationship issue
  • Learning effective communication in a relationship
  • Overcoming abusive or violent emotional traumas
  • Coping up with mental illness, loss, or grief
  • Managing physical symptoms that occur because of mental conditions
  • Building a positive mindset and outlook 
  • Facing emotionally uncomfortable times
  • Being more assertive to fulfil your emotional needs
  • Helping in expressing and confronting yourself more
  • Learning to embrace your flaws and external changes
  • Build resilience
  • Managing your stress better
  • Turning your flaws into strengths

Aaron Beck who is also known as the father of cognitive behavioral therapy explains that there are three levels of cognition that CBT aims to work on.

These Three Levels of Cognition as Given Further as Follows:

Core beliefs

CBT works out on your negative core beliefs. Negative core beliefs are negative views about yourself and your future along with views about the world. In addition childhood experiences shape, teach, and influence your core beliefs a lot. Some bad experiences in childhood can also develop negative core beliefs and CBT helps to clear those deep roots. 

Cognitive Distortions or Dysfunctional Assumptions 

Reality is highly bendable to the perception we pose upon us. So, dysfunctional assumptions occur because we keep on focusing on the negatives that distort our perception of reality and misinterpreting pieces of information. CBT works to shift that focus to positive ones making your perception of reality and information optimistic.

Automatic Negative Thoughts (ANTs)

Here you become habitual to negatively perceiving reality and you start to unconsciously do that leading you to experience negative emotions. CBT challenges ANTs by helping you reframe your thoughts optimistically and rationally along with being conscious of what you perceive about your reality.

What Principle Underlies Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy?

Cognitive behavioral therapy is an effective tool that can help individuals have better mental health and every individual goes through customized CBT depending on their needs. Despite that, Judith Beck further defines ten main principles that underlie CBT which are also mentioned in their book known as Cognitive Therapy: Basics and Beyond.  So, the principles of CBT are as follows:

  1. There should be a strong, caring, comforting, empathizing relationship between the therapist and patients along with competence. 
  2. Active participation and harmonic collaborations of patients are important in order to achieve effective and best out of CBT
  3. A patient going under CBT programs would focus on the current and specific challenges to work on
  4. The conceptualization of patients keeps evolving as the information keeps adding up that helps to understand a patient’s current thinking patterns from their childhood to present experiences.
  5. CBT teaches patients to become the sole independent therapists that help them to identify, tackle, respond, plan and challenge their thought patterns, responses, and behaviors
  6. Setting time and number of CBT sessions depends on the patient’s mental illness severity and the rigidity of their beliefs. It can range from a few months to some years if necessary but usually, it takes 6 to 14 sessions only. 
  7. Patients need to draw out some goals that they want to achieve from CBT in the initial session because it will help them to have focus on one thing and learn to tackle other thoughts that may distract them from achieving the goal
  8. CBT should teach patients to adopt realistic and ration perspectives and identify their key cognitions
  9. You learn through CBT structurally and the process includes brief weekly reviews, setting and discussing the agenda of session collaboratively, checking up on mood, reviewing and setting new tasks/homework along with summarizing and giving elicit feedback
  10. Practicing and teaching techniques, mood, behavior, and thinking changes along with problem-solving techniques

What are the Benefits of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy?

The main purpose and benefit of CBT are to gain control of the internal perception of thoughts and behavior of a person. However, there are other benefits as well that patients can get from Cognitive behavioral therapy as follows:

  • Allows you to break negative thought cycles that influence your mental health and behavior
  • Keeps you calm and in a relaxed state of mind that prevents blanking out on your important time
  • Ignites hope in people that they can cope with their condition instead of struggling with it
  • It helps to develop your self-esteem 
  • Makes you more aware of your mental illness
  • Helps you to be more rational and practical in challenging situations

How to Get Into the CBT Process?

Firstly if you want to seek a therapist’s help for getting into Cognitive Behavioural Therapy then you should check with the certification and professionalism of that doctor. Your budget also plays an important role in the process. Meeting a therapist is like meeting a doctor, we address our issues and they provide us with solutions. So, before seeking therapist consultation you need to review your list of concerns in detail so that your therapist can provide you with effective treatment solutions for the same. More the information, more the effectiveness in your CBT process. 

When it comes to seeking mental health help, you should check their background, education, certification, area of expertise, and license. 

CBT Consists of Common Steps and Procedures as Follows:

  • Identifying the issue
  • Noting down your medical or external conditions which is impacting your mental health
  • Being aware of your mental ill health’s root causes
  • Exploring your mental state oneself in detail
  • Being aware of the way you think, believe, and feel about certain situations
  • Picking out the negative thinking, beliefs, and emotions
  • Reshaping them by learning certain skills and techniques

Important Things to Keep in Mind Before Considering CBT

Before getting into CBT or any other psychotherapy procedure, your therapist will inform you about certain rules pertaining to confidentiality and safety concerns. Your information will stay confidential to the therapist but it may be subject to change if you fall into circumstances like harming yourself or others, abusing a vulnerable child or adult, or being unable to care for yourself. 

You also need to keep certain things in mind before going under CBT. This therapy can be uncomfortable at first because you will experience and explore the deep root of your mental problems which might also include painful memories and feelings. Furthermore, it may cause you discomfort, upset, sadness, anger, or tears because it will challenge your darkest and negative side a lot. 

You may also feel mental and physical exhaustion in this process but remember that it is temporary and the results you will get after CBT is worth all the efforts. Some forms of CBT may compel you to confront your situations rather than avoiding which may cause you to have anxiety or stress but it will help you get rid of bottled-up griefs and phobias. Your therapist will work on you with the best method possible that will not harm your mental state in extreme and try to minimize any risks. 

What is an Example of CBT?

We can understand the process of cognitive behavioral therapy better with examples. So, you are joining a new company and you need to cross a bridge in during the pathways under which there is an ocean or lake. Something in you gives you anxiety whenever you are crossing over that bridge. Either you close your eyes in the car or avoid walking down there. Your office colleagues tell you to join walk in that bridge area during office break time. One time your taxi driver left you in the middle of that bridge and you went into a panic attack. Such incidents occur many times and one of your friends suggests you for seeking therapy. 

Furthermore, you find a therapist and they inform you about everything relating to CBT and understand your problems. Firstly, your therapist will try to find the reason for your current problem if whether you have a phobia of being around waterside, heights, falling, or bridges. Later on, based on the type of phobia you have, they will give you homework to stand near that bridge first and then gradually start walking on that bridge. 

Your mind will slowly build resistance to that particular phobia and in the end, you will resolve your problem properly. You may also note down your feelings and experiences during that time in a journal and inform your therapist of the same. Aldo, in times of feeling panic while crossing other bridges you can recall what you learned in this CBT program and try to cope with your situation better. This is an example of CBT and the same doesn’t apply to all. 

What are the Limitations of CBT?

Psychological studies keep on evolving and updating over time, Therefore, there are various theories and therapies made which can match to specific needs of some individuals. Cognitive behavioral therapy’s main limitation is that it is effective for some people only. Some people with heavy mental illnesses and learning difficulties cannot get the benefit of CBT because they need something much different than that. Other limitations of CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) include:

  • CBT is dependent on patient active participation
  • It requires the patient’s full trust, willingness, and commitment 
  • Might make many patients uncomfortable in confronting phases
  • Dependent on the level of information the patient is providing them
  • Focuses on a narrow scope
  • Have a proper set of times and number of CBT sessions
  • Focuses only on present situations/problems instead of working on underlying causes
  • Follows rigid structure which may not fulfill the exact mental needs

How to Achieve the Most out of CBT?

As you know that cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) effectiveness revolves around patients always. In addition, there are some tips to make your CBT experience more fruitful as follows:

  • Actively participate in the talks
  • Have a proper share in making decisions
  • Try to be more cooperative when it comes to agreeing on major issues
  • Be more willing to learn how to tackle your major issues effectively
  • Stick to the goals that you set in front of your therapist 
  • Be honest and open to conversations 
  • Try to confront your situations more even if it feels uncomfortable or embarrassing at first
  • Avoid getting disrupted by your progress
  • Understand that it will take time to come under the effect
  • Keep consistency
  • Complete your given task/homework
  • Consult your doctor if you do not find the effect or benefit even after several sessions

Conclusion

Cognitive behavioral therapy is one of the effective tools of Psychotherapy. It helps them to cope, tackle, and strategies the situations carefully with a positive outlook. Therapists can use this tool alone or also with a combination of other therapies and medications. CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) can benefit specific types of people who are going through mental health conditions and it can be an effective tool to help them manage their mental health conditions better. 

In addition, your professional therapist may arrange one-on-one groups with people with similar issues, an online virtual group, or people who are close to you. There are various session lengths, forms, levels, and principles regarding CBT. Cognitive behavioral therapy’s main limitation is that it is effective for some people only. Some people with heavy mental illnesses and learning difficulties cannot get the benefit of CBT because they need something much different than that.  You can also make your CBT learning experience better from the above-given tips.

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