Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) helps people think healthier. Healthy thinking sets us free to live a good life in all circumstances and situations, no matter what problems we’re facing.
If you desire to grow more competent, if you want your thoughts and behavior to reflect your increasing ability to deal positively, joyfully and gratefully with whatever comes your way, if you want your best, your most healthy and vibrant life–you might try CBT. It works.
What is CBT?
- CBT is a proven therapy that is effective in addressing negative thinking.
- CBT is not based on any religion, although its process might be familiar to those whose faith helps them manage their troubles.
- CBT is a way to understand and think about problems from a hopeful perspective. CBT is based on the individual’s needs and beliefs, and neither teaches nor contradicts any religious practice. Anyone can practice it.
- Research has shown that CBT is effective for treating anxiety, depression, chronic pain, disordered eating, anger, addiction and low self-esteem.
CBT can be seen as a 3-step learning process.
- You educate yourself about your particular problematic issues. When I decided to try CBT, my problematic issues were fibromyalgia, autoimmune disorder, multiple chemical sensitivities, and chronic pain.
- You learn to get through uncomfortable feelings such as fear and frustration. In my case, I chose to believe that even when I feel pain, I’m going to be all right. There’s no need to eliminate the problem (the pain, the anxiety or the frustration) during this stage. Techniques include deep breathing, muscle relaxation, distraction, listening to calming or mood-elevating music, and imagining calming scenes. All you’re doing at this point is consciously relaxing so that you can live through any difficult sensations and emotions until they pass.
- Over time you learn to notice when your thoughts become negative, unhelpful or destructive. Then you consciously replace unbalanced and unfair thoughts with more realistic, helpful ways of thinking about a problem. The goal is to be truthful and rational, without being overly optimistic. Optimism can be disastrous when it causes us to pretend there is no problem. We don’t want to evade the issue, or worse, recklessly plunge into deeper problems. Instead of being either negative or falsely positive, we want to deal with the truth of the situation in a helpful, rational manner.
- An example of false positive thinking: My pain is all in my head. I can make the pain go away by ignoring it. If I Zumba with gusto, and if I keep pushing myself to participate in activities and events even when I feel awful, I’ll forget about my pain. But the reality is, whenever I stress my body by overdoing exercise or activity, I inevitably increase my pain–attaining the opposite result of what I had hoped for.
- An example of negative thinking: I can’t take this pain! I’m miserable. I can’t do any of the things I like to do, or used to do. This pain is ruining my life.
- An example of truthful, rational thinking: This pain is really intense right now. It’s true that I don’t feel up to going to the store at the moment, and maybe I won’t be able to get there today. But I’ve had pain like this before, and it will pass. If I do my stretching and breathing exercising, and take a hot bath, I’ll likely feel a whole lot better. Meanwhile, I can handle this. And my life is good–I’m surrounded by people who care about me (and there are people who will go to the store for me). I have many things to look forward to, including the curried chicken, basmati rice, and cucumber raita we’re going to have for dinner tonight.
You can learn CBT:
- If you want to try CBT, you can learn it on your own with help from this website (click here).
- Or, you might chose to learn it from a trained therapist, which might get you quicker benefits. Insurance will generally cover CBT if your doctor refers you to a qualified therapist. But it can be prohibitively expense if you’re uninsured. Ask about group sessions.
How to find a CBT Therapist:
- Ask questions–it’s your right to know how your therapist likes to work, which treatment methods she prefers to use. It’s your life and your health!
- Look elsewhere if a therapist is guarded, withholds information or becomes angry when you ask questions about what treatments he or she uses.
- When you find someone who appreciates the magnitude of your decision to hire a therapist, who validates your need to feel comfortable, and if this person is friendly, open, and knowledgeable, consider working with this person.
- You will need to have supreme confidence in your therapist, especially since she/he may find it in your best interest to ask you to take risks, and might request that you do things you find uncomfortable. You need to be able to believe that your therapist really does care about you.
- Interview a therapist over the phone before booking an appointment. The therapist should be willing to spend fifteen minutes answering your questions! If she’s too busy, or seems annoyed that you have questions, look elsewhere. To learn which questions to ask a potential CBT therapist, click here.
- To search for a CBT therapist in your area, click here.
CBT is a tool for achieving holistic health:
- Any habitual unhealthy patterns can be changed only by one’s will to change. The decision to change then leads to a corresponding change in behavior. The very thing I long for–control over my life–is inherently, already mine. It’s up to me alone (and no one else) to learn to control my thoughts and my reactions, to live with wisdom, for good purpose, in holistic wellness.
- The basic principles of living well do not change with changing times. To live wisely is to choose:
- a nurturing and compassionate lifestyle;
- to grow through adversity and trouble;
- to become increasingly more loving, despite everything.
- The brain is not a machine–it is a miraculous, mysterious, regenerative control center for life. Every time we use cognitive power to consciously change a habitual pattern of thought or behavior, we grow brain cells.
What are your tips or ideas for growing brain cells, or for developing healthier, wiser thinking?