Cognitive Behavioral Therapy—The Basics

 

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (or CBT) is a type of therapy that helps teach people how to think rationally and appropriately about situations in order to help them improve their mood. The three basic components of CBT are thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Emotions are never right or wrong, and we often have very little control over how we emotionally react to things. We do, however, have control of our thoughts and our behaviors. We know that while we may not be able to change our feelings, we can change our thoughts, and that can in turn have an impact on our emotions. CBT teaches clients to be aware of their behavior choices and their typical automatic thought patterns. Often times when we are feeling angry, sad, frustrated, anxious, unhappy, or what I sometimes call “blah” we choose to make behavior choices based on our feelings as opposed to what we know is beneficial to us. For example, there have been many times I’ve told myself, “I’m not feeling very energetic right now, so I’m just going to skip the gym” even though I know going to the gym is exactly what I need to do to help myself feel better. Once we see this maladaptive behavior pattern that is based on our emotions, and we begin to track the thoughts that are involved in making these decisions we can start to change those thoughts and behaviors into things that are constructive. Thinking “I’m not feeling very energetic right now, but I know if I go to the gym it’ll help me feel better” is a small change in my thought pattern that could have a big impact in my decision making and eventually in my mood.

At Behavioral Sciences of Alabama the counselors use CBT techniques and strategies to help clients understand their thought and behavior patterns and how they contribute to their mood. CBT has been proven to be effective for many things such as depression, anxiety, OCD, eating disorders, and ADD/ADHD.

Maggie Futch, MA

Associate Licensed Counselor