What is CBT Therapy?
Are you seeking mental health treatment? If so, you are not alone. One in six Americans started therapy for the first time in 2020, and the need for mental health resources has only grown.
One of the most popular treatments available is cognitive behavioral therapy. It is proven to be greatly effective with a wide variety of mental health conditions.
When there are so many different treatment options available, it may be hard to choose. We’re here to help. Read on to learn what you can expect from cognitive behavioral therapy at the Sunshine Care Centers.
What Is CBT Therapy?
It is a bit of a misnomer to call this treatment “CBT Therapy.” CBT stands for cognitive behavioral therapy. It is a type of talk therapy that successfully manages symptoms related to PTSD, CPTSD, Bipolar Disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder, OCD, and many more.
Today, CBT is one of the most common forms of therapy utilized in the field. It is often the first type of therapy a mental health professional will try with a patient due to its impressive results since its conception in the 1960s.
Cognitive behavioral therapy is based on several core principles. We will review some of them below.
To start a healing journey with CBT, the therapist will find what harmful psychological issues are rooted in negative or maladaptive thought patterns. If someone can re-wire their thought patterns, they can break through the cycle of destructive self-talk. It is those negative thought patterns that sometimes result in unhelpful learned behaviors. These steps support the clinical nature of psychological disorders by easing symptoms while a client works with their psychiatrist.
Next, the therapist will look at a patient’s core beliefs. Core beliefs influence the mental health of an individual. If these core beliefs are wrong or misguided, working through them and making the appropriate adjustments can significantly impact a person’s life.
Lastly, patients will develop coping strategies to combat their negative thoughts and behaviors, thus getting better control over their mental health.
In conjunction with medication, lifestyle changes, and traditional therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy eases symptoms and vastly improves the quality of a patient’s life.
How Does Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Work?
You may ask, “if cognitive behavioral therapy is a type of talk therapy, how is it any different from traditional therapy?” or, “do you have to talk about past traumas and relive them?” The answer is that although CBT is talk therapy, it is not about rehashing terrible moments in your past. It is about finding actionable methods to deal with recurrent or ruminative thoughts and habits originating from trauma cycles and maladaptive coping mechanisms.
While you are free to discuss past events with your cognitive behavioral therapist, which can be helpful in some cases, your therapist is more concerned with getting to the root of the problem. The root may be a specific event, but the thought patterns and behaviors surrounding it are more important on a day-to-day basis than the event itself.
Next, we will review how CBT sessions tend to go.
The First Session
During the early sessions, patients will speak to their therapist about their struggles and any specific symptoms they’ve noticed. The patient will be able to ask the therapist questions during this time. It is valuable for the patient and their therapist to “get a feel for” each other to determine if they are a good match going forward.
The therapist will then help the patient set goals for treatment. These goals can be large or small. Some patients want to feel better overall; others have specific goals for navigating and avoiding panic attacks. CBT is an adaptive program; the treatment plan will change over time, reflecting the progress made.
The following sessions between therapist and patient will follow the roadmap set out by the treatment plan they created but will likely start with the therapist asking if the patient has something specific they’d like to discuss.
Never worry about bringing “non-CBT” talk into a therapist’s office. If a pressing concern doesn’t relate to your current treatment plan, don’t hesitate to mention it. The therapist is there to help; the more information that can be shared, the better. The insight could give your therapist more awareness of your mindset and thought patterns that were not obvious in the initial meeting.
Throughout sessions, the therapist will let you speak freely but will point out harmful behaviors or thought patterns and may ask you to confront them. They may assist you in a shift of perception or action.
The therapist may also ask you to track when you notice those thoughts or behaviors pop up. They may ask, “what triggers them?” or “how do you respond?”
The therapist will set you up with coping strategies to aid symptoms of mental health struggles. It is not uncommon for a therapist to give homework. They may ask you to use your coping strategies safely in public while you do things that challenge you.
Who Should Try Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?
CBT effectively treats several mental health disorders and can help almost anyone. CBT is one of the most popular forms of mental health treatment for a reason.
People with common mental health conditions, such as depression, can see great results. Other conditions that may benefit from cognitive behavioral therapy include, but are not limited to:
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Bipolar disorder
- Various personality disorders
- Eating disorders
- Substance use disorders
Not everyone who tries CBT does so because of an underlying mental health condition. CBT is also effective for people going through short-term emotional struggles. CBT sessions can benefit people facing relationship issues, major life changes, and medical conditions.
How Long Does Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Last?
Cognitive behavioral therapy is a form of therapy that tends to be short-term when compared to classical talk therapy. While some patients continue seeing their cognitive behavioral therapists for years, the general treatment time is between twelve and twenty weeks. Some may complete treatment within five weeks, but that is rare.
The time range for CBT treatment is wide. People with short-term emotional struggles can finish the process more quickly than someone who has suffered from a long-term mental health condition.
Are There Any Downsides to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?
Overall, there is no downside to cognitive behavioral therapy. Because of the time sensitivity of a CBT treatment plan, it is easy to determine whether or not the treatment is working. Additionally, the therapist can change course or choose a different form of therapy if the patient isn’t improving.
There may be a short transitional period in which you feel worse in the beginning of therapy. That is common across all modalities. It is normal to feel a twinge of pain when first opening up to a new therapist about sensitive issues. The benefit of having those feelings come up is that you are in a safe space to process those emotions. It helps you heal.
Is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Effective?
Yes, cognitive behavioral therapy is incredibly effective. Research suggests that CBT is the gold standard for a reason. It is proven to give patients long-term, reliable results.
CBT is more effective for some conditions than others, and people who struggle with serious mental health concerns may benefit from trying several different types of therapy. Cognitive behavioral therapy can be done alongside, before, or after another type of therapy.
Cognitive behavioral therapy is also successful in working concurrently with medication. If you know you need psychiatric medication, therapy is not a substitute. The two treatment methods work best together.
How Do You Find a Cognitive Behavioral Therapist?
Finding a good therapist can be difficult. Once you are ready to seek treatment, it is a good idea to talk to your doctor. They may recommend a therapist in your area.
Look into local treatment centers and see what each one has to offer. Ask about their insurance, payment options, and whether or not they offer CBT. There are many different therapy styles, and not all therapists will specialize or focus on CBT.
It is important to remember that as a patient, you are in control of who is a part of your medical team. It is ok to “try out” a therapist and not go back to them again if you don’t align. During your first session, ask the therapist questions to determine whether or not you feel comfortable with them.
Finding the right therapist can be a challenge, but it is a rewarding journey to undergo.
CBT at Sunshine Care Centers
Taking the first step toward seeking mental health treatment is a big deal. When you’re ready to start cognitive behavioral therapy, you’re ready to start healing.
Sunshine Care Centers has a suite of medical, therapeutic, and addiction professionals with over 30 years of experience in the field. We pride ourselves on a clean, compassionate, and secure environment that encourages recovery from addiction and mental health concerns. We use evidence-based addiction treatment with flexible programs that cater to your needs.
Don’t wait to receive the help you deserve.