CBT in New Milford,CT

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy Technique Strategies and Protocol

Cognitive-behavioral therapy or CBT is a type of psychotherapy (talk therapy) that is widely used to treat a variety of mental health conditions, ranging from anxiety and depression to OCD, ADHD, PTSD, and eating disorders. The past certainly has relevance, but CBT focuses on providing you with tools to cope with current problems. Treatment with cognitive behavioral therapy is typically intended to last a few weeks to a few months. Yet, for the majority of patients, CBT has significant long-term positive effects that can last for years after therapy has concluded.

CBT Principle

The key principle behind cognitive behavioral therapy is that a person’s thoughts affect their emotions, which in turn affect their actions. During cognitive-behavioral therapy, clients understand how negative thoughts lead to destructive feelings and unhealthy behaviors. You also learn how framing your thoughts in a positive way can lead to constructive emotions and actions. The skills learned during cognitive behavioral therapy sessions can be used to implement changes immediately. You can continue to use these strategies to deal with challenging situations lifelong.

How Does Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Work?

Your therapist can take several approaches to CBT depending on the issues you’re dealing with. In general, clients have a session with a therapist once a week or once every two weeks for a total of 5-20 sessions, with each session lasting 50-60 minutes. Cognitive-behavioral therapy can be offered in an individual, family, or group setting.

During a CBT session, your therapist will help you identify specific problems in your daily life. Through talk therapy, you will become aware of unproductive and unhealthy thought patterns and their impact on your life. You will learn strategies to reshape the way you think and put new techniques into practice. By eliminating negative thoughts, you will change the way you feel and behave. Your therapist will help you develop specific goals that are measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound.

Thoughts Become Things

Notice Unhelpful Thoughts. Replace Them With Helpful Thoughts

CBT Techniques

Cognitive behavioral therapy employs several strategies and protocols, the most common of which are listed below:

Cognitive restructuring involves taking an in-depth look at negative thoughts and learning to reframe them to be more positive and productive. This is helpful for people who tend to over-generalize or place importance on minor things. The therapist will help you learn to look at the bigger picture and focus on the positive.

Exposure therapy is used to help people confront their fears. In the safe environment of the therapist’s office, you are gradually exposed to things that provoke anxiety or fear. The therapist guides you on how to cope with a phobia in small steps, so that you feel less vulnerable and become more confident about coping.

Guided discovery involves challenging your beliefs to broaden your thoughts. The therapist will ask for specific evidence to support your assumptions and challenge them with evidence to the contrary. The process helps demonstrate to you how things appear from other people’s perspectives, thereby helping you choose a more productive thought pattern.

Role playing during CBT can help you practice social skills, become more assertive, improve communication skills, become familiar with anxiety-inducing situations, and improve problem-solving skills.

Journaling is a tried and tested way of getting in touch with your innermost thoughts and feelings. Your CBT therapist may ask you to list negative thoughts between sessions and positive ones that can replace them. This will help you understand how your thoughts affect your mood and behavior. You will become adept at putting changes into effect and also see how far you’ve come.

Behavioral experiments are designed to help people overcome anxiety related to catastrophic thinking. Your therapist will ask you to predict the worst possible outcome from a task and later discuss whether your prediction came true. This can help you understand how your predicted catastrophes are unlikely to occur.

Successive approximation involves breaking overwhelming tasks into smaller, more achievable ones. The therapist will help you build towards a goal with small steps and encourage you as you gain confidence.

Relaxation and stress reduction CBT is achieved with the help of guided muscle relaxation, deep breathing exercises, or imagery. This CBT technique is useful for people who have social anxieties or phobias.

Activity scheduling is used to help you stop procrastinating about stressful activities. Putting an activity on the calendar helps reduce the burden of decision-making and increases the chances of your following through. This strategy can help you get into the habit of positive behavior activation and practicing what you’ve learned in CBT sessions.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Depression and Anxiety

If you are struggling with depression and anxiety, your CBT therapist can work with you to identify specific thought patterns and your behavioral responses to stressful or challenging situations. Cognitive-behavioral therapy can help you learn more balanced and constructive ways to respond to stressors. You will learn to minimize or eliminate self-defeating thoughts such as all-or-nothing thoughts, overgeneralization, habitual negative reactions, disqualification or rejection of positive experiences, and magnification of certain unimportant events.

CBT for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

ADHD is a condition in which there is a lack of self-regulation, leading to disorganization, procrastination, impulsivity, and poor time management. People with ADHD often find it hard to regulate their emotions and can benefit from cognitive behavioral therapy. CBT can help you reduce pessimism and self-critical thoughts and replace these with high self-esteem and productivity.

CBT for Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

A specialized CBT technique called exposure and ritual prevention is designed to help people with OCD. The treatment breaks the unhealthy bond between a person’s feelings and ritualistic behaviors that interfere with their ability to function. The therapist will help you learn to stop ritualizing in response to distress and learn more effective ways of coping with anxiety.

CBT for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Cognitive-behavioral therapy can help reduce PTSD symptoms by changing associations. For example, a person with PTSD may associate reminders of a traumatic event (a news report, for instance) with the conclusion that the world is a dangerous place and respond with fear and anxiety, even though the news report itself is objectively not dangerous. CBT also helps people with PTSD re-evaluate their thinking and overcome thought distortions. For instance, a person may believe that bad things happen to bad people and that being raped confirms they are a bad person.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Eating Disorders

CBT helps address issues like low self-esteem, perfectionism, and lack of interpersonal skills that often contribute to the development of eating disorders such as binge eating, self-induced vomiting, and other compensatory behaviors, strict dieting, etc. Your therapist will help you challenge self-imposed dietary rules and break out of all-or-nothing thought patterns. You may be encouraged to develop a meal plan and maintain a food diary where you’ll note your thoughts and feelings after eating. You will learn skills such as delays and alternatives to prevent binges and compensatory behaviors. After a regular eating pattern is established, your CBT therapist may gradually ask you to reintroduce “fear foods” into your diet.

Is CBT right for me?

Cognitive-behavioral therapy is considered the premier treatment method for a variety of mental health conditions, either alone or in combination with medications. You can benefit from CBT if you’re struggling with anxiety, depression, grief, phobias, bipolar disorder, sleep disorders, OCD, PTSD, and a host of other conditions. For the best results, you should be prepared to commit to CBT and be willing to practice new techniques between sessions. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is an effective, safe, and well-established short-term psychotherapy that can teach you skills you can rely on throughout your life. To find out more about CBT and how it can help you overcome the challenges you are facing call or email us, we are happy to answer any questions you may have.

CBT in New Milford,CT

If you are looking for compassionate support and guidance navigating relationships or personal challenges, we can help. Please call 860.740.2228 for your free phone consultation to see how our CBT services can help you find solutions for healing.