Do you suffer from anxiety or depression? Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) could be a solution, though it's certainly not an instant cure. In recent years, cognitive behavioral therapy has become popular as a method of redirecting negative thought patterns. Often used in conjunction with medication, CBT is designed to resolve issues of anxiety and depression at their source rather than allowing them to linger.
The Theory Behind Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Those who suffer from anxiety or depression often fall into negative patterns of thought which can reinforce their disorders and affect their behavior and how they feel. Dr. Rebecca Dolgin, founder of Tides of Tao Psychiatry, states, "Over time, negative patterns of thought can become habitual and even seem automatic. If not redirected, such thoughts can contribute to ongoing symptoms of anxiety and depression.” These kinds of problematic thoughts can then contribute to your performing poorly, thus giving rise to even more frequent self-criticism.
Through cognitive behavioral therapy, you can train your brain to avoid these negative patterns of thought and instead replace them with more useful, positive coping skills. Psychologists and psychiatrists who utilize cognitive behavioral therapy techniques can advise their patients on the best form of CBT for them.
Getting Started with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Though there are many types of cognitive behavioral therapy, many share the same general principles. Cognitive behavioral therapy often includes themes such as identifying difficult situations in your life, improving awareness of thought patterns, reshaping thought patterns, and learning coping skills.
Through an assessment, a mental health professional can work with you to attempt to identify the issues that are contributing to your anxiety and depression and assist you in coming up with a treatment plan. At this point, it's important that you commit to treatment both intellectually and emotionally; a patient must be on board with cognitive behavioral therapy for it to work.
Reshaping thought patterns is an important part of cognitive behavioral therapy. "Through cognitive restructuring, patterns of maladaptive thinking can be identified and changed,” states Dr. Rebecca Dolgin.
Skills acquisition is the process of developing psychological tools to cope with issues such as anxiety and depression. This could be as simple as snapping a rubber band around your wrist to distract you from overly anxious thoughts.
It is important that patients learn to use such coping skills easily and effectively throughout the day. An end goal may be that a patient no longer has to snap the rubber band, but instead develops the habit of instinctively moving away from negative or anxiety-producing thoughts.
Many improvements can be experienced when the patient has successfully mastered the skills taught to them through cognitive behavioral therapy and has successfully taken control of their behaviors and thought patterns.
Finally, post-treatment assessments can be used by a mental health professional to ensure that a patient is not backsliding and continues to maintain their progress or move forward. If you feel as though cognitive behavioral therapy is no longer helping, please alert your mental health professional so they can assist you with finding alternative solutions or methods.
The Benefits of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Cognitive behavioral therapy can be done with or without the aid of medication. Cognitive behavioral therapy can also produce solid, long-term results because it challenges the very foundation of negative beliefs, behaviors, and habits.
Cognitive behavioral therapy is not for everyone, but it has been shown to be very helpful for many people dealing with anxiety or depression. If you're interested in cognitive behavioral therapy, you can inquire with your primary care doctor, therapist, or psychiatrist. Even if this isn't their area of expertise, they may be able to give you a referral.
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