What Is Cognitive Therapy And Will It Work For Me?
Updated January 03, 2020
Medically Reviewed By: Lauren Guilbeault
One of the most common forms of psychotherapy, cognitive therapy relates to the way that we think, feel and behave and the way that each of these different aspects is interconnected and make us who we are in the present. It's about how we can move forward and how we can meet the dreams and goals that we set for ourselves if we can change the behaviors, thoughts, and feelings we have to be more positive about ourselves and our future.
Understanding Cognitive Therapy
Cognitive therapy was created way back in the 1960's, by a man named Aaron T. Beck. With this type of therapy, it shows that the individual is responsible for their presence because of the way that they think or feel about different situations that occur in their life. That's not to say that it's a simple process to change those thought processes or belief systems, but that it is an internal process. By changing them, and working with a therapist to do so, the individual can make a large impact on their life.
It requires a therapist to help with developing proper skills and behaviors to help improve the lives and the situations that the individual is struggling with. The therapist can help you to learn how to relate to people more positively, how to change your behaviors, how to get rid of negative thoughts and beliefs that tear you down and a whole lot more. All of this, however, requires the individual, you, to be willing and able to make changes throughout the way that you live your life, to achieve success as you move forward.
Using Cognitive Therapy
If you're looking to improve your own life with this type of therapy, it requires several different steps that are considered part of the restructuring process. Each of these steps is crucial to being able to achieve the best possible results from this type of therapy and from being able to overcome the underlying issues that are causing the mental health problem.
- Identifying negative or irrational automatic thoughts that are based on a belief about the self or future.
- Identifying cognitive distortions related to the automatic thoughts.
- Disputing the rationality of the automatic thoughts using the Socratic method.
- Creating rational rebuttals to the automatic thoughts.
When we talk about automatic thoughts, we're talking about things that show up in mind without you having to even think about them. It's an automatic association that comes about. For those with negative thoughts, it may be an immediate feeling of failure after getting an answer wrong, for example. There are six different ways that these thoughts are characterized.
- Evaluation of others
- Evaluation of someone who you are interacting with
- Coping strategies and behavior plans
- Avoidance thoughts
- All other thoughts
Treating Your Automatic Thoughts With Cognitive Therapy
There are many different ways that these types of thoughts can be viewed or changed and each one is going to be different for different people. Perhaps a few of these will work better for you than others, or they may work for someone you know but not work for you. It's going to be a process of finding what the best way to go about helping yourself is, but it's something that can be done, if you're willing and able to make the changes and if you find someone who is willing and able to help you.
Monitoring activities and scheduling them, performing experiments related to behavior, catching negative thoughts and consciously changing them, investigating the thought to determine if it is rational or irrational, exposure and 'as if' training can all help with understanding negative traits and beliefs and changing them. Guided discovery, Socratic questioning, problem-solving, cost-benefit analysis, and the downward arrow technique are all other types of training or thought processes that you can go through with your mental health professional to find out more about how to change your thought processes.
What Is The Socratic Method
Because it's one of the most common methods of teaching with cognitive therapy, we'll take a closer look at the Socratic method, which seeks to challenge any thought or opinion to find a more reasonable explanation. It does this through a few simple steps.
- Is there another explanation or way to look at the situation?
- What does it mean if I think or believe this way? What would happen if I thought a different way?
- What would I tell someone else if they were dealing with this situation?
By going through these simple questions, you can find out more about whether your thought process makes sense or is irrational.
Looking For Help
The next step, once you understand more about cognitive therapy, is finding a therapist who can help you with it. You want someone that will be able to work with you through the situations that you're experiencing and who will be able to help you understand the situations you find yourself in. It's going to take time and effort to overcome any kind of mental health situation, but it is most definitely possible. My Therapist is one way that you can help yourself to do just that.
MyTherapist is an online service that allows you to find a range of different information about different mental health conditions and situations. It also helps you connect with therapists and other mental health professionals that are located around the country. That way, you can find someone that knows how to help you and that you can feel most comfortable with. When you do, you'll be able to start pushing yourself towards the life that you want and the life that you deserve, what could be better than that? It's just going to take a little bit of time, and this online service can help change your life.