Why is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Effective?

Why is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Effective?

Our clients here at The Sanctuary come to us for addiction, mental health issues or some combination of the two. And however their situation presents itself in their lives, they’re often surprised to find that their core issues aren’t exactly what they thought. That’s why we focus on getting to the fundamental problem. Because underneath it all, there are only so many ways that a human being can hurt.

To achieve this, we use holistic treatment program designed to take you through in-depth stages of healing. We draw on a variety of therapies at each stage – one of which is cognitive-behavioral therapy, or CBT. CBT is a type of psychotherapy that addresses how you think, and the behaviors that result from your thoughts, to help you feel and function better in life.

CBT has grown in popularity in recent years, and many people who seek treatment are curious about it. This evidence-based therapy is effective for managing symptoms of a wide range of mental health disorders. Let’s take a closer look at why that is.

Why is CBT so Popular?

Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a common type of psychotherapy (otherwise known as talk therapy). Many people like it because it’s fast-acting: it’s not uncommon to see results within just a few months. And because it teaches real-world coping skills, its benefits as a means of better managing your life are long-lasting, too.

CBT is also popular in large part because of all the research that supports it. As the demand for “evidence-based” therapies increases, more people are drawn to methods with proven results. And CBT repeatedly stands out as an effective treatment in studies worldwide.

You don’t need to have a mental health condition to benefit from CBT. The techniques it offers can be used as part of anyone’s wellness toolkit. But it can help with most diagnosable mental health disorders.

What is CBT Effective For?

CBT is so widely used in part because of its broad range of applications. This thoroughly researched therapy is shown to be effective for:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Trauma
  • Sexual abuse
  • Addictions
  • Eating disorders
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Attention deficit disorder (ADD)
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Anger management
  • Borderline personality disorder (BPD)
  • Phobias

CBT can also help people who are struggling with chronic pain or trauma due to a medical illness. You’ll learn how to cope with stress more effectively and prevent your mental health from spiraling when it does get challenging. Over the course of your treatment period, your therapist can help you find ways to manage your emotions and communicate better in your relationships.

How CBT Works

Depending on their approach, and on clients’ needs, therapists might employ CBT on its own or in combination with other therapies. It’s often used along with medication but can also serve as an alternative when medication isn’t a good option.

CBT works according to a basic theory and uses strategies and techniques to create change.

Your Thoughts Affect how You Feel and Act

This therapy operates on guiding principles about your situations, thoughts, and reactions:

  • Situations occur when something happens in your life.
  • Thoughts present themselves according to how you interpret the situation.
  • Reactions are how you respond, with both your feelings and actions.

Often, this whole cycle is automatic. That is, it transpires so fast that we don’t even realize what’s happening. CBT helps you tease out exactly how this process works in your mind, sometimes by tracking everything that happens during a certain period of time. Once you’re aware of what’s going on, you can use strategies to correct it.

Challenging Your Core Beliefs

So why do some people automatically have irrational or negative thoughts, while others don’t? It has to do with our beliefs. The belief systems we form throughout life, as a result of societal conditioning or past experiences, shape the way we see the world. These beliefs can either tell us things like, “I’m a good person,” or “I’m not worthy of love.”

Automatic thoughts are just that: they happen outside of our awareness. The goal of CBT is to change these negative beliefs, which are often based on untrue assumptions, into ones that serve you. While you may not always feel perfect, you can start to feel better. And that has to do with seeing negative patterns for that they are and choosing to respond to them differently than you did before.

Changing Your Behaviors

If you’re anxious or depressed, it could actually be due in part to your behaviors, which contribute to how you feel. For example, if you’re depressed, you might want to avoid social situations. But over time, you might start to feel more depressed because you’re lonely. Or you may grow more distant from friends you were once close with, which reinforces the belief that they don’t like you.

This is why it’s important for CBT therapists to directly address their clients’ behaviors. By changing how you choose to act, you can in turn change how you feel about yourself and the world around you.

What Happens in a CBT Session?

Your experience in CBT can look different from session to session. It will likely include a review of what happened since your last session, as well as an assignment to complete before the next one. This could involve practicing a new skill you learned, completing a relevant worksheet, or keeping a journal to track your moods. The aim of each session is to provide you with new ways of thinking about your problems.

Generally speaking, CBT is a collaborative approach in which you and your therapist set goals and tackle problems together. Your therapist should welcome feedback on how things are going, and will likely ask for it throughout the treatment process.

How is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Effective for Anxiety and Depression?

CBT for Anxiety

Cognitive-behavioral therapy is commonly used – and is in fact the most researched therapy – for anxiety. CBT-based anxiety treatment is based on the idea that how you perceive situations is what causes your anxiety. Therapy takes place via two key components: cognitive therapy, which focuses on your thoughts, and behavior therapy, which looks at your reactions.

CBT can help you recognize how your thinking patterns contribute to feelings of anxiety. By connecting the dots between your thoughts and your mood, you’ll empower yourself to take control of your emotions and change your behavior as a result. CBT helps many people better manage or even get rid of their anxiety. Research shows that you can significantly improve in as little as 16 sessions.

CBT is used for all anxiety disorders, including generalized anxiety (GAD), panic disorder, and social phobia. It can be a good fit for those with severe cases as well as those who are just starting to show symptoms.

CBT for Depression

While depression is a diagnosis, sometimes it’s also used as a coping strategy. As such, some people build their social lives around it so that it starts to serve a purpose. CBT can help you undo that relationship so that depression isn’t necessary anymore.

Similar to anxiety, cognitive therapy looks at the ways you’re thinking that reinforce your depression. Your therapist might ask you to “try on” other ways of thinking and see how those effect your mood. For example, while people who struggle with depression often have trouble being assertive, practicing asserting yourself can give you a greater sense of agency in your life.

CBT directly addresses behaviors related to depression. For example, if you stopped activities you used to love because of your depression, your therapist might ask you to start doing them again. Using this to strengthen your feelings of pleasure and confidence can help ease your symptoms of depression.

CBT at The Sanctuary: Part of a Holistic Approach

At The Sanctuary, CBT is part of a holistic approach to healing that includes clinical therapies, bodywork, nutrition, energy medicine, and more. Our psychotherapists use CBT techniques in combination with other diverse approaches. We expose you to an array of treatment options, so you can discover what works best for you.

As one former client says:

“The most important part is the tools. Wounds will keep coming. The important part is diving in, analyzing them, and trying to get the gift out of that difficult situation. In times like these, I couldn’t imagine what my life would be like if I didn’t have these tools, being where I was prior to coming here. I would not have been able to handle everything that’s going on.”

Our transformative treatment model takes into consideration both your symptoms and their underlying causes. While you’re here, you’ll get relief from what’s causing your stress. But more importantly, you’ll come away with a whole new set of strategies for coping with both internal and external triggers. And you’ll be challenged, rewarded, and inspired as you learn to move through life in a whole new way.

Call us today to learn more.