Challenges. Hardships. Setbacks. These are all normal human experiences. When you have been in the midst of less-than-ideal circumstances, have you ever thought, “I do not have a path forward. I feel so stuck!” Or what about, “This is all my fault!” Most likely you have because most people have. These negative thoughts, however, are not true, and they do not help people overcome life’s challenges. Many people are learning that they cannot by-pass challenges, but they can change their mindset. To learn how to do just that, they are pursuing Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) to gain the emotional and cognitive skills to fill themselves with positive, true thoughts.
“Change your thoughts and you change your world.”
—Norman Vincent Peale
Any positive change usually begins with one’s own thoughts, feelings, attitudes, and perspectives. If you are ready to make a change in your life but are not sure how, CBT may be able to help. In studies, clients who underwent CBT made substantial and sustainable life changes by first changing their thinking. Even clients who face significant mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety, experienced as much symptom relief with CBT as medication gave them. Further, individuals who participated in cognitive behavioral therapy were equipped with emotional and cognitive skills that they were able to use long after their counseling sessions finished.
Thriveworks Austin offers cognitive behavioral therapy because we have seen the power it can bring to an individual’s life. Our therapists and counselors have seen lives transformed as people transform their own thinking.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: How Does It Work?
It is possible to change negative, untrue thoughts to positive, true thoughts, but it is not as easy a changing the channel on the TV. In many ways, doing so is a skill that takes practice, and CBT provides the opportunity for clients to build these cognitive and emotional skills. In this way, CBT is very practice. During sessions, clients and therapists usually focus upon a current and specific problem the client is facing. This issue can be social, emotional, relational, and/or psychological. For example, CBT has been used to treat…
- General health issues
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder
- Child and adolescent issues
- Relationship issues
- Drug and/or alcohol addiction
- Self-destructive habits
- Anger management
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Mood swings
Instead of focusing upon the problem, CBT focuses upon how a client thinks about the problem. Consider Cara’s situation. She wrestles with anxiety and relational issues. This week, Cara and her therapist are talking about an interaction she has with a friend. The friend suggested they meet up for dinner soon and said she would text a few nights that might work. Since then, Cara has not heard from her friend. It has been four days, and anxiety is starting to creep up within Cara. She is telling herself things like, “my friend doesn’t really want to spend time with me. This always happens to me. As soon as I get close with someone, they pull back. I’m such a loser.” Together, Cara and her therapist examine these thoughts. Cara comes to see that maybe her friend has just had a busy week—Cara does not know why her friend has not texted. They make a plan for Cara to text her friend and ask how her week has been going.
Prevalent Cognitive Distortions
When people put an inaccurate and negative spin upon a situation, these are called cognitive distortions. The problem with cognitive distortions is that people’s thinking and actions are intertwined. Negative thinking often leads to poor choices. Thus, an important step in cognitive behavioral therapy is learning to recognize cognitive distortions for what they are: unhelpful and untrue thought patterns. Learning about common cognitive distortions can help. Some of the most prevalent distortions include…
- “Black and white” or polarized thinking puts life into an all-or-nothing category. People do not allow grey or shades. Life is either wonderful or awful.
- Filtering diminishes any good or positive experiences so that only the bad and the negative as seen. Thus, people filter out anything beneficial and focus only upon adversity.
- Catastrophizing sees and expects disaster as the outcome of every situation. Any setback or challenge is seen as a sure sign of the catastrophe to come.
- Control fallacies can come in two forms. First, people may take control that is not theirs—as when a codependent spouse feels guilty for their loved one’s addiction. Second, people may abdicate control that naturally belongs to them, blaming fate, the universe, and/or luck for their own choices.
- Overgeneralization draws a universal principle from one experience. The connection is not usually logical or warranted.
- Personalization means that people interpret another’s words and actions as directly reflecting themselves. Instead, people’s own words and actions only reflect upon themselves, not others.
- Blaming looks for fault, whether there is fault or not and whether blame is helpful or not.
CBT Counseling at Thriveworks Austin
After reading through this list of cognitive distortions, did you recognize any? Most people probably will, and many are learning that these negative thoughts do not have to rule their lives. With cognitive behavioral therapy, many people are learning how to change the channel in their mind from negative, untrue thoughts to positive, true thinking.
If you are ready to make a change, the therapists at Thriveworks Austin are ready to help. When you contact our office, you may be meeting with your therapist the following day. We also accept most insurance plans.
Let’s work together for a positive change. Call Thriveworks Austin today.