Improving Mental Health with CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy)
People are confronted with challenges every day and sometimes the challenges can be overwhelming – in fact, you may be experiencing this right now. And if you are faced with too much stress, it can affect your mental health. However, talking to a therapist, counselor, or psychiatrist can help you deal with those challenges and recover faster.
I understand that it might be difficult to talk about your personal issues with other people, but it can offer a sense of what it feels like to be understood and supported – that’s why psychotherapy is so helpful and effective.
Psychotherapy, or talk therapy, is a way of helping people with mental illnesses and emotional difficulties cope with what they’re dealing with. One form of psychotherapy that is effective in treating mental health problems today is cognitive behavioral therapy. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a form of psychological treatment that is used to treat a range of mental and emotional problems.
Here are some of the mental illnesses that CBT treats:
One of the main goals of CBT is to determine irrational beliefs and thoughts and replace them with a more realistic viewpoint.
As part of the cognitive process, your doctor may work with you on these specific areas:
- Guilt or embarrassment
- Anger over past events
- Misperceptions of your self-worth
- How to deal with people in relation to social anxiety
CBT helps lessen anxiety in interpersonal relationships and it gives the person with an anxiety disorder a feeling of control over their anxiety. Of course, changing negative thinking will require practice and repetition – however, it will become easier as the person works to change their negative thoughts into positive ones.
Cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I) is a method of treating insomnia without the use of medication. It aims to improve sleep habits and behaviors by determining the thoughts and behaviors that affect the ability of a person to sleep well. CBT-I can help people control or eliminate negative thoughts and worries that keep them awake.
If you’re struggling with insomnia, a doctor may first need to identify the underlying causes of your insomnia. You should also take into account all possible factors that may be affecting your ability to sleep. CBT-I is usually recommended as the first line of treatment for treating insomnia.
Here are some of the CBT-I techniques that your doctor or sleep therapist may recommend:
- Stimulus control therapy
- Sleep restriction
- Sleep environment improvement
- Relaxation training
- Sleep hygiene
- Remaining passively awake
Someones a doctor or therapist combines several techniques for more effective results.
CBT can be effective in treating depression if it is mild or moderate. The sessions you have with your doctor will provide an opportunity to identify which current life event or situation is causing your depression. And your doctor may suggest that you keep a journal as part of the treatment process. The journal provides a place for you to record life events and your feelings about what is happening in your life. And your therapist can use the journal to help with replacing negative thought patterns or perceptions with more constructive ones.
This can be done through the following techniques:
- Practicing self-talk that is accurate and balanced
- Using self-evaluation to reflect and respond appropriately
- Learning to control and identify distorted thoughts
- Learning to accurately assess external situations
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) involves unwanted and disturbing thoughts, images, or urges that intrudes into a person’s mind and causes a great deal of anxiety or discomfort. These thoughts can be about hurting someone, making mistakes, contamination, disease or just about anything that someone might consider dirty, disgusting, or dangerous. The person will then try to reduce it by engaging in repetitive behaviors or mental acts. Treatment for OCD involves testing the patient’s beliefs about their obsessions.
People with OCD may fear that thinking something terrible is just as bad as doing something terrible. They may believe that their intrusive thoughts mean that they are bad, defective, or out of control. They may even place undue weight on the importance of these disturbing thoughts. A therapist or psychiatrist can work with a patient to develop ways to modify these beliefs. People with OCD can learn how to prevent themselves from acting or responding to their obsessions. If the person can manage to reduce their compulsions, accept the urges, and engage in pleasurable and productive activity, the anxiety that is associated with their OCD and the degree of belief in their obsessions will reduce.
Schizophrenia is a chronic brain disorder that distorts the way a person thinks, acts, expresses emotions, perceives reality, and relates to others. People with schizophrenia may seem like they have lost a sense of reality. This disorder may not be very common, however, the symptoms can be disabling.
CBT treatment for schizophrenia involves establishing a collaborative therapeutic relationship, developing a shared understanding of the problem, setting goals, and teaching the patient techniques to manage their symptoms. The goal of CBT is not to cure schizophrenia but rather to improve the person’s ability to function independently. In addition, CBT aims to reduce the distress they experience in their lives.
Cognitive behavioral therapy can be effective in treating a wide range of mental disorders. If you want to learn more about how cognitive behavioral therapy can help you, you can contact Dr. Mark Herbst with a mental health clinic in Los Angeles and schedule a consultation.