Cognitive behavioral therapy is an approach to treat a variety of dysfunctions and behaviors with the introduction of systematic procedures and goals. Patients diagnosed with anxiety or depression have been successfully treated for their conditions with the use of cognitive behavioral therapy.

How does cognitive behavioral therapy actually help individuals with mental disorders?

The idea behind this process is that the traumatic events themselves don’t hold power over our behaviors but rather the emotions or meanings we assign to them after the fact do. We fail to learn from experiences and hold on to negative thoughts that prevent us from moving forward.

For instance, someone with anxiety involving crowds may talk themselves out of attending a concert they had been looking forward to for months. At the last moment, the urge to stay home instead of venturing out becomes overwhelming and tickets are given away to someone else to use, thus eliminating the threat of feeling like they have to attend the event. The prevailing thought of “I can’t possibly spend the evening in a crowded room like that. I will be miserable,” isn’t given the chance to be replaced by a positive experience.

Cognitive behavioral therapy allows patients to develop specific action items to work on between sessions to change their negative behaviors into positive ones. The therapy involves a homework component. With each new session, the doctor and patient discuss the activities of the time since the last session and determine what worked and what didn’t. The structure surrounding cognitive behavioral therapy allows for individuals to feel safe pursuing activities that otherwise would have caused stress, anxiety, and depression.

Working with a therapist to change behaviors can have an extremely positive effect on a variety of mental disorders.

When facing debilitating mental disorders such as anxiety or depression, talking with a specialist about cognitive behavioral therapy can kick start you on a path toward wholeness and mental health.

What are your thoughts about changing your behavior using cognitive behavioral therapy?

Image by Zoe via Flickr

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