It is said that one in four of young women in the UK today have at some point experienced an issue with their mental health. As we become increasingly aware of conditions such as depression, anxiety, and PTSD, we gain not only a better understanding of how they can affect our daily lives but also of how to better treat them. If you or someone close to you is suffering from a mental health issue, then, it’s important to remain positive, and confident that healing is possible. It’s just a matter of finding the right approach.
One of the most successful treatments for depression, anxiety, and stress is cognitive behavioural therapy (read more on CBT here: https://www.thechelseapsychologyclinic.com/therapies-and-treatments/cognitive-behavioural-therapy.html). Cognitive behavioural therapy, or CBT, is recognised as an effective therapy for managing depression and anxiety because it gives people a tool they can use to be proactive in managing negative thoughts and identifying negative patterns.
Cognitive behavioral therapy is different from other forms of therapy, like talk therapy, because it is solution-orientated. Talk therapy is an excellent way for a person to identify larger patterns in their behavior and understand how their past has shaped their way of behaving. But CBT allows people to take a proactive stance in managing the damaging and negative thoughts that are causing them distress on a daily basis. CBT, combined with talk therapy or other therapies, can provide a holistic approach to managing your mental health issues.
What Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Does
CBT is based on the idea that a person’s behavior comes from their own negative or damaging interpretations of events, not from the events themselves. So CBT teaches people how to change their responses to events so that they don’t react in a negative or damaging way. Changing a person’s internal dialogue and response to external occurrences can dramatically lessen the symptoms of depression and anxiety.
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As an example of how CBT works, let’s look at Jane. Jane is experiencing workplace depression. When she hears two co-workers talking quietly in the next cubicle, she assumes they are talking about her and saying negative things. So she becomes anxious about what they are saying. This often causes Jane a lot of stress in the workplace, and she starts to dread going to work.
But Jane’s interpretation of the conversation between her co-workers isn’t accurate. In reality, they were just discussing a work project that had nothing to do with her. So Jane’s assumption that she was the topic of conversation led directly to her feelings of depression, stress, and anxiety – even though her assumption was wrong.
Why on earth would Jane make an assumption? Well, this response was, in fact, a very natural one for Jane based on her past life experiences – when she was bullied and gossiped about in school. Cognitive behavioral therapy will teach Jane to understand and identify her negative thought patterns and replace them with healthier, positive thoughts. This will help eliminate her symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression.
After a few sessions of CBT, when Jane hears two co-workers talking she doesn’t assume they are talking about her. Instead, she correctly assumes that they are talking about something work-related and she goes on working without the anxiety, dread, and fear that she experienced before.
What Conditions & Situations Does CBT Help?
CBT’s benefits are very broad. Here are some of the areas in which it can help people:
- Identifying negative thoughts and emotions
- Preventing addiction relapse
- Managing anger
- Coping with grief and loss
- Managing chronic pain
- Overcoming trauma and dealing with PTSD
- Overcoming sleep disorders
- Resolving relationship difficulties
Choosing a Cognitive Behavioral Therapist
There are some things that you should do to make sure that you are choosing the right mental health professional for you.
Firstly, you should talk to several therapists. A short consultation isn’t a commitment to enter into therapy with anyone– it’s just a chance for you to sit down, one-on-one, and get a sense of the psychologist’s personality and their approach to treatment.
During the appointment, you should try to be conscious of things that you like about that particular individual, and things that you don’t. After each consultation, write down your feelings about how you feel it went, and whether you had a positive or negative reaction to that therapist. Once you have met with several psychologists, you should have a strong feeling about who you think you will best work with.
In the end, it may come down to nothing more than an instinctual sense of the right person for you, but that’s a meaningful sense to have. You’ll need to have confidence in your therapist and the process of treatment, you’ll need to feel relaxed during your sessions together, and you should be able to look forward to your consultations, too. Successful treatment would be difficult for you if you weren’t completely comfortable with the person with whom you are sharing your thoughts and feelings.
We all need to take care of our mental health and emotional wellbeing. Where we can offer support to loved ones, and remember that however negative or stressed we may feel right now, positive outcomes are very achievable – we just need to take a few steps in the right direction first.