Counseling in Traverse City, MI—Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
When life is challenging, have you ever thought, “this always happens to me. It isn’t fair!” Or what about “I made a mistake at work, and I am a terrible employee.” Most people have thought something along these lines at some point in their lives, but the truth is that these negative and untrue thoughts do not help people. In fact, they often exacerbate current problems, and at times, they can create new problems. These negative thoughts are called cognitive distortions. Everyone has them at some point in their lives, but not everyone is allowing this negativity to control their actions. Many people are learning how to change their thinking and their perspective, and they are reaching out for help to do so. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a therapeutic method that does just that: helps people change their own thoughts. Often, the result is that people’s lives are changed in the process.
“You change your life by changing your heart.” —Max Lucado
Many people want to change their mindset to be more positive, but they do not know how. That is where CBT may be able to help. During cognitive behavioral therapy, people often…
- Work closely with their therapist to form a mutual relationship. Each client is an expert on their own thought life, but therapists understand cognitive distortions and how to adjust them. Together, clients and therapist work together for positive change.
- Learn that they have the power to control what they think, feel, and do. Changing one’s negative thoughts is not as easy as changing the channel on the television, but it is possible.
- Work through very specific challenges in their lives. CBT is intensely practical. Clients often present particular situations and process these with their therapist.
- Are equipped with emotional and cognitive skills that they can use for the rest of their lives. People do not think of feeling or thinking as skills, but they are. That means people can learn new skills and improve the skills they have.
Thriveworks Traverse City has counselors and therapists on staff who have worked closely with their clients and seen firsthand the transformation that can come through cognitive behavioral therapy. Changing one’s mindset can truly change an individual’s world.
Common Cognitive Distortions
Cognitive distortions are simply thoughts about reality that is untrue and negative. There are common distortions that plague people, and learning about them is often the first step in recognizing them. A few examples of common cognitive distortions include…
- Emotional reasoning happens when people do not distinguish between their internal feelings and what is externally true. For example, just because someone feels guilty does not mean they have done anything wrong. The feeling and the reality are different.
- Polarized or “black and white” thinking happens when people see all of life as an either-or. Everything is wonderful or terrible. Middle ground or grey does not exist.
- Filtering happens when people minimize and deny any positive news so that they only see the negative.
- Catastrophizing happens when people always expect the worse and disaster. Any setback is taken as a sign that catastrophe is pending.
- Fallacy of fairness happens when people live their life in comparison to others. An arbitrary measure of fairness determines what is good/bad, right/wrong.
- Overgeneralization happens when people have one experience, but they turn it into a universal principle that applies to other circumstances.
How Might CBT Help?
When a client and therapist work together, they will first identify cognitive distortions. Then they will work to adjust these so that a client’s thinking more accurately reflects reality and so that it is more positive. Specifically, CBT may look like…
- Learning to distinguish between feelings and thoughts.
- Learning about how people’s thoughts, emotions, and actions have a mutually influential relationship.
- Discovering what thoughts and feelings are more automatic to a client. These often arise unintentionally.
- Assessing thoughts and feelings with a critical and detached perspective.
- Practicing these self-reflection skills so that clients can interrupt their negative thoughts before they escalate to actions.
Often, clients are assigned homework to hone the skills they have learned in therapy. For example, therapists may assign clients an exercise call the “Three-Column Technique.” When clients face a challenging situation, they are to draw three columns upon a blank piece of paper. In the left hand column, they are to write the situation that has arisen. Let’s say their insomnia flared, and they did not sleep last night. In the middle column, they will document what they are feeling about the challenge. Perhaps, they are telling themselves, “I will never sleep again.” They will also identify which cognitive distortion this is: overgeneralization. In the right hand column, they will list a healthier response. Perhaps, “I had one bad night’s sleep. I am doing what I can to help my body fall asleep. One bad night does not determine future nights.” Over time, this process will become more and more automatic.
Counseling at Thriveworks Traverse City for CBT
Think about what is happening in your life. How are you responding to these circumstances? If you are ready for a positive change and if you are ready for cognitive behavior therapy, know that Thriveworks Traverse City offers CBT counseling.
When you call Thriveworks Traverse City to schedule an appointment, you might be meeting with your therapist the following day. We do not keep waitlists, but we do offer weekend and evening appointments. We also accept most forms of insurance.
Let’s work together. Call Thriveworks Traverse City today.