Cognitive Behavioral Therapy has been around for ages. It’s the foundation of many therapists’ training and the therapy approach that has the most empirical studies. The gist of CBT is our thinking causes our body to react and impacts our emotions. So, if we got more of a handle on our thoughts, we can greatly impact our reactions/behaviors and how intensely we feel.
Most of us can excessively ruminate about the worst thing that could happen if we drive a car in heavy Atlanta traffic, or give a presentation we’re unprepared for, or if our relationship ends. We could, as the CBT terminology points out, catastrophize on how horrible that worst case scenario we are playing out in our mind. The scenes might seem so vivid as we picture it, feel so possible, and cause us to have major physiological reactions. We could even create a panic attack with our imagined, plausible scenario. Yet, it is only what we created with our thinking that caused this major reaction.
What CBT entails is getting more of a handle on our thinking. It is taking the reins (as if on horseback) of our mind instead of letting our thoughts lead us astray. First we begin identifying typical cognitive distortions we engage in. We try to catch ourselves in the act of employing distorted or negative thinking. And eventually, we work to challenge our thinking to lessen its emotional impact and guide healthier reactions. Challenging our thinking is a graduated skill that takes focus, practice, and self- compassion.
All humans have some distorted thinking. However, highly depressed and anxious people tend to show much more tendencies to display irrational, distorted, or negative thinking. And a good CBT therapist and a willingness to slow down, challenge our thoughts as not facts, and re-work our automatic thinking toward an encouraging and compassionate voice, can greatly decrease anxiety, depression, anger, etc.
Feel free to reach out to a CBT therapist at Parkway Psychotherapy and Wellness to begin taking the reins of your own mind.