CBT? What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy? To explain let me ask you a question: When you are upset, do you usually think your way into a new way of feeling, or do you feel your way into a new way of thinking?
Can we successfully think our way into new ways of feeling? Yes.
Pioneered in the 1950’s and 1960’s by Albert Ellis, Aaron Beck and others, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or CBT for short, is a scientifically tested and verified method of overcoming common emotional patterns.
It helps you identify your problems and set specific goals for how you would rather be living your life. In CBT, the counselor gives you techniques to identify thinking patterns that may not be giving you what you want, and empower you to adopt more helpful thoughts, attitudes, philosophies and beliefs.
CBT also helps us focus on emotions. We were created to have a very wide range of feelings. The ability to explore and name thoughts and feelings is the first step to managing them, and ultimately lead us to new ways of acting and behaving.
CBT is also an educational process that can help you to understand, normalize and address some common human problems. The following are some of the humorous ways we can identify common problems in thinking that get us into trouble. As you can see, by defining the problem, we are more easily led into the solution!
Catastrophizing: Making “mountains out of molehills”
Solution? Learn to put your thoughts into perspective.
All-or-Nothing thinking: Either it’s “black or white”, either “you’re with me or against me”
Solution? Start to develop “Both…And…” thinking
Fortune Telling / Crystal Ball Reading: If you start your sentences with “I know what you’re going to think about this….” You may want to stop and reconsider.
Solution? Start asking questions first. Test out your predictions. Understand the past doesn’t predict your future.
Personalizing: Interpreting events as if they are related to you personally. Often times this leads to hurt feelings that were actually quite avoidable.
Solution? Consider alternative explanations. What else might have contributed to this problem?
Over-generalizing: Drawing global conclusions from one or more events. If you find yourself saying “always”, “”never”, “everyone”, “no one”, “everything”, “nothing”, then you might be over-generalizing. Solution? Suspend judgment and get more specific. Is what you’re saying really always, at all times and in all places true like that?
OK, there are lots more where those came from, but you get the idea.