Let's face it: life isn’t always a yoga retreat or a Burning Man camp. It’s about getting on and off the subway, dealing with the 500 emails in your inbox, and making it through a big company presentation in one piece. Therapy should be real, too. It should also help us deal with the big and small interactions of our lives. Say hello to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).
WHAT IS CBT?
Developed in the 1960s by Dr. Aaron Beck, CBT has been widely studied and scientifically proven. It delivers tangible results by understanding the link between thoughts and actions. By increasing awareness of our thoughts instead of reacting blindly to our environment, we become active drivers to improve our mood and change our behavior.
Surface level thoughts are multi-faceted and often originate from deeply held beliefs about ourselves and the world we are not fully aware of. CBT encourages us to test our thinking until it becomes second-nature to question our assumptions. It also teaches us to understand how past experiences shape our current core beliefs. We start to adjust our patterns of thinking in the present and change how we act and feel for the better.
CBT works well with the pace of modern life because it’s short-term, present-focused, and highly results-driven. This pragmatic approach has made it popular with professionals. Sessions can have clear agendas and next steps, and therapists often provide homework assignments that are relevant for the clients’ specific issues. If you’re feeling stressed in a challenging job due to a critical boss, your therapist might ask you to compile a record of negative thoughts, evidence that supports/does not support them, and alternative thoughts. This allows you to recognize a pattern and to develop healthy alternatives in your thinking that boost your self-confidence and help you react to your work situation in a positive way.
Clients often find it empowering to understand, control, and influence their thoughts and behaviors. CBT is effective for a wide range of problems including anxiety, stress management, depression, anger management, chronic pain, complicated grief, addiction, and more. And yes, it’s also good for surviving a crowded subway commute in one piece.
CBT has something for everyone. Click the “Get started” link above to take our matching survey and see if it might be right for you. Please comment below if you’d like to share your experience with CBT or have questions. We'd love to hear from you.