Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) identifies faulty or unhelpful thought patterns, emotions, or behaviors with the intention of replacing them with helpful approaches, attitudes, and actions. CBT can be effective for treating problems such as anxiety, depression, eating disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), substance abuse, and severe mental illness. For anyone who is struggling, CBT can lead to significant improvement with overall functioning and quality of life.
Although the past can inform the present, CBT doesn’t look backward, it starts with what we need to do today. Be inspired by the words of Viking legend Ragnar Lothbrok, “Don’t waste your time looking back. You’re not going that way.” CBT focuses primarily on moving forward by developing more effective ways of coping with life. Discussions allow the therapist to understand the client’s problem(s), to then co-develop healthy approaches to work towards overcoming whatever is holding them back.
Identifying Negative Thoughts
By identifying the thoughts, feelings, and situations that contribute to unhealthy behaviors, CBT shines a light on the root of the problem(s). For those who struggle with introspection, this can be difficult, but self-discovery and insights gained during the reflection process are essential to successful treatment. By recognizing distortions in our thinking, we can avoid the negative misconceptions we’ve built up in our minds over the years and reevaluate ourselves within the context of a more optimistic reality.
While avoidance can minimize temporary discomfort, it blocks the ability to discover long-term relief. Learn to calm the mind and relax the body, making it easier to face fears. With CBT, we learn how to harness the power of our mind to help us better manage our journey forward. Problem-solving skills learned during CBT sessions can offer tools to reduce stress, increase confidence, and replace victimhood mentalities such as “woe-is-me” with the confidence of “one step at a time, I am on the path to victory.”
Self-Monitoring, Journaling, & Goal Setting
Self-monitoring and journaling allow us to keep track of our situations, symptoms, and progress. Not only can writing things down be therapeutic, but reviewing the journal with our therapist can inform whether certain thoughts and actions are adding value or undermining us from living on our best path. Writing down our short-term and long-term goals can be a great way to stay motivated as we press forward. Remember the five criteria of goal fulfillment denoted by the acronym SMART: goals should be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. These five keys allow us to pace progress and remain dialed in. Provided we set goals that serve us, our family, and our community, absolute commitment to their fulfillment can create a domino effect of goodness in our lives.
Consider the side effects associated with a steadfast commitment to attend night school to earn an MBA, read ten pages of self-help literature per day, or quit smoking. The benefits from the pursuit of healthy goals can transcend all areas of our lives. From improved mental, physical, and spiritual health, the process can be just as—if not more—beneficial than the outcome.
Some of us have horrible traumas weighing us down like a ball-and-chain. Ongoing emotional turmoil can cripple even the strongest survivor. If we want to get on in this world, we MUST find a way. Change is difficult. For CBT to be effective, we must be ready, willing, and eager to change. American educator, Booker T. Washington, said, “Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome.”
“And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.” —Philippians 4:8-9 NLT
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PLEASE NOTE: As an Amazon Associate, Fathers Truly Matter earns from qualifying purchases. The information in this post should not be construed as providing specific psychiatric, psychological, or medical advice, but rather to offer readers information to better understand the lives and health of themselves and their children. It is not intended to provide an alternative to professional treatment or to replace the services of a physician, psychiatrist, or psychotherapist.