Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a very effective, research-based therapy for a wide variety of problems. I have found it particularly helpful for people struggling with anxiety, depression, phobias or, poor self-esteem.
CBT is an “evidence-based” therapy, which means it has solid research to support its effectiveness with certain problems (e.g. depression). You can learn much more about it at the National Association of Cognitive Behavioral Therapists at www.nacbt.org.
The word cognitive just means “thinking”. “Behavior” is self-explanatory. CBT focuses on identifying and challenging thoughts and beliefs that hold us back or keep us stuck. Researchers are learning more every year about how very powerful our thoughts and beliefs are. Our thoughts can affect our very brain chemistry, our body, and our mood (for better or worse!).
Thoughts Make a Difference! Consider the “placebo effect”. One example of this is the study in which one group of cancer patients was given a powerful cancer drug and the other was given a sugar pill (the placebo). Both groups were told that they received the powerful cancer drug, and they could expect their hair to begin falling out. Well, people in BOTH groups experienced hair loss. How do you explain that? The power of the mind and our beliefs is truly amazing! There is even evidence that the way we think can actually change our brain. Counseling can help you to recognize thoughts that are getting in your way, and change them to more realistic beliefs that help you feel better and reach your goals.
Our Behavior Makes a Difference! Our behavior can also really influence our feelings and our moods, as I’m sure most of us have experienced. Have you ever felt better after doing something you really didn’t feel like doing (like exercise!)? Have certain behaviors created pain and suffering for you? Sometimes, we make the mistake of waiting to feel better before taking some constructive action to help ourselves. Emotions are difficult, if not impossible, to control or predict sometimes. However, behavior is always within our control. It’s necessary for us to learn to acknowledge and manage emotions – or they will manage us!