There are many different approaches to therapy, but one widely popular and successful approach is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). This form of talk therapy is rooted in changing one’s harmful thoughts or behaviors, of which are often a major factor in the individual’s presenting issue—whether that issue is bickering with one’s girlfriend, binge-drinking, or a mental illness like depression or anxiety. In any case, the therapist will guide their client in first identifying their harmful habits (which again can be thoughts or behaviors) and then making healthy changes that equal a healthier lifestyle.
“Once you replace negative thoughts with positive ones, you’ll start having positive results.”
Thriveworks is built on the notion that we can all learn how to live better by working with a skilled, caring mental health professional. Our therapists, counselors, psychologists, and life coaches have specific expertise that enable them to help you overcome the challenges you face in life. Aided by these skills and their compassion, they’ll guide you on the therapy journey toward living better. To experience these benefits for yourself, schedule an appointment with a cognitive behavioral therapist at Thriveworks Counseling in Waltham, MA today.
What Techniques Are Used in CBT?
As mentioned previously, therapists in CBT help their clients understand how their harmful thoughts and/or behaviors only hinder them in life and create (or add to) the challenges they face. They use different techniques to shed light onto the power of our thoughts, one of which is the best friend test. The best friend test is used to check your negative thoughts and put a given situation into perspective. Consider the following:
Tommy came down with a horrible head cold on Monday. He was sneezing nonstop, suffering from a pounding headache, and struggling to breathe out of his nose. While Tommy despises missing work, he knew he had no choice but to take off a couple days to get better. He returns to work on Wednesday, feeling good as new and ready to get down to business. A couple hours in, Tommy’s boss rushes past his desk. He tries to say good morning, but she’s in her office with the door closed before he can get a word out. “I knew it was a bad idea to take off… now my boss is upset with me. There’s no chance I’ll get that promotion.”
Tommy assumes the worst: that his boss is mad at him for taking some time off work, and that his career will ultimately suffer because of it. To put these negative thoughts into perspective, Tommy can employ the best friend test. He needs to simply ask himself: “If my best friend was in this very situation, and they were jumping to the same conclusions, would I agree?” The answer is no. An outsider looking in can more easily see that the boss’s rushing to her office likely had nothing to do with Tommy and everything to do with her. Maybe she was working on a tight deadline; or maybe she was having a bad day and didn’t want to talk to anybody. The point is there are plenty of other explanations that make more sense than Tommy’s first assumption.
Why Is Addressing and Changing Negative Thoughts Important?
Our thoughts rule our feelings and our feelings rule our lives. That’s exactly why addressing and changing our negative thoughts is important. We mentioned the jumping to conclusions distortions above, but what other cognitive distortions are there? Let’s look at a few:
- Filtering: whereas we filter out all of the positive aspects and bring the negative to the forefront.
- Catastrophizing: which is all about making the smallest of problems out to be the biggest of problems.
- Polarized thinking: with this distortion, something is either the worst of the worst or perfect.
- Emotional reasoning: we assume that our thoughts and feelings are true, even when we don’t have all the facts
- Personalization: this is just as it sounds—you take everything personally and assume that others’ actions reflect their feelings toward you
Do any of these distortions sound familiar? Which are you guilty of engaging in? Your counselor will ask you about your thoughts and feelings, and as in the example above, walk you through some helpful strategies for disarming your negative thinking patterns.
Book a Therapy Session at Thriveworks Counseling in Waltham Today
If you think that you could benefit from cognitive behavioral therapy, consider working with one of the therapists or psychologists at Thriveworks in Waltham. They will help you to challenge the harmful thoughts and behaviors that you present in therapy. Their unique and extensive skills and experience enable them to do so.
Are you ready to book a session? To schedule an appointment, give us a call at (781) 309-9149. A scheduling specialist will answer your call and help you find a therapist or counselor who can help you with your unique situation. Keep in mind that you could even meet with your therapist or counselor as soon as tomorrow (as long as that sounds good to you)! If you’re ready to get started, we are too. We look forward to hearing from you.