There are many different kinds of therapy specifically geared towards the problems we may face in life, but the kind of therapy we typically imagine – where a patient can express his feelings of stress and sadness and learn to cope with them – is known as cognitive behavioral therapy. CBT is a hugely effective method for treating depression, anxiety, and other mental conditions. For 6-15 sessions on average, a patient can learn how to change their thinking and develop tools to help them succeed. The style of therapists can vary, but for the most part, there are certain methods of CBT that are known to be successful.
1. Setting Goals
Patients will be asked to set goals both on a weekly basis and for the long term. The short-term goals are usually small, and therapists work with their patients to shape and manage them. Something as simple as getting out of the house every week can mean a lot for a person with depression, as long as the therapist helps them frame their goals in a positive light.
2. Keeping a Journal
It can be helpful for patients to make note of difficult situations so they can remember how they felt and how they reacted. The therapist can talk over the events the patient chronicled in their journal with them so they can figure out ways to handle them better and identify certain chronic issues the patient faces. It can simply help them realize what is effecting their mood.
3. Belief Testing
A therapist will ask their patient what their various beliefs are – whether they think they are worthless, whether they believe no one cares about them, or similar patterns of thinking. Then the therapist will ask the patient to provide concrete evidence to support their beliefs. Usually a patient will find that there are no valid reasons to believe the things they do, or if they have reasons they interpret to be valid, the therapist knows what needs to be addressed.
Role-playing can help a patient master how to interact with other people. The therapist will often provide a number of possible scenarios and types of people the patient could encounter. They get the opportunity to practice healthy responses and learn to be more confident.
5. Cognitive Restructuring
There is a long list of cognitive distortions that usually affect people with depression or other mental problems. Magnification, over-generalization, mind-reading, and ignoring the positives can be just a few. Therapy helps patients replace these negative thoughts with more positive and also more realistic ones. This can be implemented in many of the exercises involved in a therapy session. True restructuring is the ultimate goal of CBT.
CBT can help patients overcome depression, and it can also help with other things like substance abuse, weight loss, or overcoming grief. The tools a patient learns in therapy can help them rebuild and reshape their life. Almost everybody can benefit from education about positive thinking and healthy mental outlooks, and therapy is the right place to start for many people.
Nancy Meyers writes for education blogs where you can read more about the Top 10 Best Online Therapy Degree Programs.