When you have faced a challenging or difficult situation, have you ever told yourself something like, “I feel hopeless and out of options.” Or what about, “things like this keep happening to me. This is not fair.” Most people have. These negative thoughts are not true, and as common as they may be, they often make a hard situation worse. Many people, however, are learning that they can change these thoughts and focus upon true, positive realities instead. In changing their own outlook, they are often discovering the key to overcoming any challenge or hardship.
There are many circumstances in life that people cannot change, but no matter what people face, they can exert control over their own perspective. Changing negative thoughts to positive ones is not as simple as turning the lights on, but it can be accomplished. Many people reach out for help from a therapist and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) to learn how.
CBT is a therapeutic model that has been proven to help a variety of people facing a wide range of difficulties. Clinic research has shown that clients participating in CBT can sustain long-term and substantial changes because they focus upon what they can control within their lives: their own thoughts. Even when clients struggle with serious mental health problems such as anxiety and depression, many clients experienced measurable relief comparable to that of medication. CBT has been used as a treatment for…
- Anxiety and depression
- Anger management
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder
- Drug and/or alcohol addiction
- Relationship issues
- Mood swings
- Self-destructive habits
- General health issues
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Child and adolescent issues
Thriveworks Lynchburg utilizes CBT with many clients because we have seen how effectively it can change someone’s life. Just as negative thinking can leave people hopeless and stuck, positive thinking can give them motivation to overcome even the biggest challenges they face.
What Might Happen at Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?
“I learned to take those experiences that were difficult in my life and
in the adversity that I had overcome to use it for a positive change.”
During a typical session of CBT, clients will usually present a specific social, emotional, psychological, and/or relational problem they are experiencing. In this way, CBT is a very practical and proactive form of psychotherapy. Together, a client and therapist process the event, the client’s thinking, and a response.
Without fail, people will face difficulties and challenges. However, at times, they contribute to the difficulties with their own thinking. CBT seeks to identify ways that individuals may be making their own lives more challenging because of their outlook. Together, the therapist and client work together for a more positive, hopeful outlook.
Take Cindy, for example. She struggles with anxiety and insomnia. Last night, she barely slept, and today, she is speaking with her therapist. While describing her night, Cindy concludes, “Nothing that I ever do works. I’m just terrible at sleeping.” Cindy and her therapist talk about this perspective because Cindy is engaging a cognitive distortion that may be exacerbating her difficulties, fueling her anxiety, and making it more difficult for her to sleep. Instead, Cindy and her therapist look at reality from a different perspective. First, Cindy had one bad night, and tonight may be different. Second, Cindy’s insomnia has been improving overall. She has had ups and downs along the way, but Cindy has worked hard to prioritize a sleep routine that is helping. Cindy’s anxiety is lowered as she remembers this true, positive perspective.
As therapists and clients work through more and more situations such as Cindy’s, clients often grow more and more comfortable with identifying their own cognitive distortions and making necessary adjustments. They gain skills that serve them well after therapy has finished. For many clients, CBT is a short-term endeavor. Therapists may work with a client for about six months to a year, meeting for a weekly one hour session.
Cognitive Distortions—A Root Problem
Negative thinking can cause big problems, but it is unfortunately a common phenomenon. Often, the first step in changing one’s thought patterns is recognizing them for what they are. Here are examples of a few of the most common cognitive distortion. Do you recognize any?
- Polarized thinking puts the world into a black-or-white category. Everything is good/evil, right/wrong, awesome/awful.
- Blaming means people find fault anywhere and everywhere they can—even when there should be no blame or when blame does not help the situation in any way.
- Catastrophizing expects the worst possible outcome in every situation and negates any information that may suggest otherwise.
- Overgeneralization takes one experience and imposes it upon others. As with Cindy, one bad night’s sleep does not mean she will not be able to rest another night.
- Emotional reasoning mistakes internal feelings for external realities. Feeling guilty does not mean someone is actually guilty.
- Fairness fallacy measures all of life by an arbitrary standard of fairness and in comparison to others.
Setting Up a Session for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy at Thriveworks Lynchburg
If it is time for you to confront cognitive distortions that have been holding you back, know that Thriveworks Lynchburg has appointments available. When you contact our office, you may be meeting with your therapist the following day. A scheduling specialist answers our phone—not an automated teller or a voicemail. Weekend and evening appointments are available, and we accept most forms of insurance.
Let’s work together. Contact Thriveworks Lynchburg today.