Retraining Your Brain
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is an approach that almost anyone can use for creating greater mental health and improving their quality of life.
The CBT approach to psychotherapy is really nothing more than a well-tested collection of practical techniques for managing moods and changing undesirable behaviors through self-awareness and analysis and then to taking action to created goal-oriented changes. The techniques serve to illuminate the relationship between thoughts, emotions and behaviors.
Anxiety, depression, anger and trauma are some of the traditional concerns which draw people to seek out CBT treatment. Other people seek it to help with everyday stressors, such as the loss of a loved one, conflict with a family member or co-worker, or to overcome a phobia. Some people seek CBT to assist in managing an unwanted habit, weight management, or chronic pain.
Insomnia is a problem that is effectively addressed through the use of very specific CBT techniques tailored especially for this condition. Cognitive behavioral therapy-insomnia (CBT-I) focuses on changing sleep habits, altering scheduled and sleep environments and addressing the misconceptions one may have about sleep. The client will be required to keep a sleep diary to help with the formulation of possible causes for the insomnia. Stimulus control therapy and sleep restriction therapy may also be part of the treatment along with psychoeducation on sleep and sleep hygiene.
The goals are set up front collaboratively by the therapist and the client. People seek therapy because they want change. They either want more of something they don’t have, or are experiencing, or they want less of something they do have, or are experiencing. A CBT therapist will start at the top, looking at everyday events that are occurring. From there, the therapist will drill down further until reaching the point where the client has achieved his or her goals. The approach is more structured than typical “talk therapy” and will use measurement instruments such as surveys, questionnaires, diaries, and semi-structured interviews. There may even be phone apps or websites that help collect and track data.
A CBT therapist provides the client with tools to promote both cognitive flexibility and cognitive resilience. Cognitive flexibility is the ability to think about multiple concepts simultaneously. This is a vital skill in problem solving. Cognitive resilience is useful in generating positive emotions. It gives us general cognitive restructuring skills.
The client is the one in control; the one with the power when it comes to CBT. The client is the one who must learn and practice a particular skill or exercise that she or he will be able to use long after working with a therapist. These are techniques almost anyone can use for gaining greater mental health and improving their quality of life. If there is something in your life that you would like to change for the better, consider working with a trained CBT therapist.