Thursday, November 22, 2018

Is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Your Mental Health Solution?

A lot of the time, some of the issues people have with anxiety and depression stem from our minds taking us to dark places when confronted with certain issues. According to Joyce Marter, a therapist in St. Louis Mo, “I see a number of young adults struggling to face disappointment. In general, our society does a poor job of preparing young people for the inevitable disappointments in life – even more so for those born with “bright futures.” Expectations for these individuals have always been high, whether self-imposed or inflicted by peer pressure or parents.” A lot of the time, while we can’t always change some of these events that happen to us, we can work to reframe them in a healthier way. Cognitive behavioral therapy is built on this idea, and its success is part of the reason why it is picking up steam in the psychology world.

Cognitive behavioral therapy, also known as CBT, is a type of psychotherapy that is based on working with a psychologist for a set number of sessions. During these sessions, the psychologist works with the patient in order to help them determine moments when they go into negative thinking or inaccurate thinking that could help them approaching challenging situations in a new manner. In some cases, CBT is used as a versatile tool to accompany other forms of mental treatment. Here are some key examples where it can be flexed in.

•    Managing major symptoms of mental illness.
•    Avoiding a relapse of mental illness symptoms.
•    Serving as a replacement for medication for treating a mental illness.
•    Coping with stressful life situations.
•    Finding ways to manage difficult emotions.
•    Helping find better ways to communicate and handle relationship issues.
•    Dealing with loss and grief.
•    Working through trauma stemming from abuse or violence.

In addition, some people use CBT outside of the mental health realm. It’s not unheard of for people to recommend CBT for those who are dealing with chronic physical health symptoms, in order to keep mental health problems from developing as well.

So, this is the various uses of CBT, but how exactly does it work out in practice? For example, let’s say that a person struggles with anxiety and constantly feels that every time they are in a social situation, that they are somehow going to end up bungling it or embarrassing themselves. What CBT can do is give them a set of tools and questions to go over with in their head when these situations pop up. For example, where are your feelings that you would somehow embarrass yourself coming from? What’s the likelihood of these things actually happening? Your therapist will help you put together these different ideas so you are able to slowly decipher the roots of your negative feelings and be able to essentially “think them” away.

Some of the major advantages of using CBT are that it is relatively easy to incorporate into situations where traditional medication isn’t necessarily working out. In addition, compared to other therapies, you can see results relatively quickly. It’s also versatile by nature of being talk therapy. People have applied CBT principles to a variety of settings, even using apps and books to easily distribute actionable advice.

As far as disadvantages go, CBT has minimal risks, but in some cases, it may not be the best fit for more extreme circumstances. For example, the moments where your therapist teaches you about your CBT procedures requires a set of extremely structured meetings. People with extreme mental health issues or learning difficulties may not be able to use this as they are not able to deal with the necessary structure. In addition, CBT won’t necessarily address outright family or other outside issues that may impact your mental health, mainly focusing on your own reactions to those. Other than that, to borrow a cliché, CBT is often what you make of it as far as results are concerned.

Ultimately, while cognitive behavioral therapy is growing in popularity among a lot of people seeking mental health support, no one strategy is going to be completely effective every single time. The best mindset to have is to try to have tempered expectations at first, so you don’t end up dumping it immediately if you don’t see massive results right after you get started. However, if you’re not happy after prolonged use of the concept, it may not be a bad idea to talk to your therapist to see what other options are on the table. Just be ready to explain in detail what your problems are so they can give the best answers possible.

This is a guest blog entry.

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