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  • Writer's pictureMichael D. Erickson LPC

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a form of psychotherapy that aims to help individuals change their patterns of thinking and behavior to overcome emotional and mental health problems. The fundamental principle of CBT is that our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are interconnected and that changing one can affect the others.

CBT is based on the idea that negative patterns of thinking and behavior can lead to problems such as depression, anxiety, and substance abuse. By identifying and changing these patterns, individuals can improve their mental health and well-being.

Some examples of cognitive behavioral therapy techniques include:

  1. Cognitive restructuring: This technique involves identifying and challenging negative thought patterns that may be contributing to mental health problems. For example, a person with social anxiety may have negative thoughts such as "People will judge me" or "I'm not interesting." Cognitive restructuring involves challenging these thoughts by examining the evidence and developing more balanced and realistic thoughts.

  2. Behavioral activation: This technique involves identifying and engaging in activities that can improve mood and well-being. For example, a person with depression may feel unmotivated and disinterested in activities they used to enjoy. Behavioral activation involves setting goals and scheduling activities to increase positive experiences.

  3. Exposure therapy: This technique involves gradually exposing a person to situations that cause anxiety or fear. For example, a person with a phobia of flying may begin by looking at pictures of planes, then progress to watching videos of takeoffs and landings, and eventually taking short flights.

  4. Relaxation techniques: This technique involves using techniques such as deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, or meditation to reduce stress and anxiety.

Overall, cognitive behavioral therapy is a highly effective form of psychotherapy that has been shown to be helpful for a wide range of mental health problems, including depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder, among others.

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