Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a form of psychotherapy that is based on the concept that thoughts and perceptions, rather than external situations, are the cause of feelings and behavior. The goal of CBT is to identify negative or harmful thoughts and develop strategies to challenge and overcome them.
CBT has been found to be helpful for people of all ages who are experiencing mental health challenges or periods of stress. It can be used to treat mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder. It can also be a useful tool for coping with stressful experiences such as the COVID-19 pandemic.
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How CBT Works
Treatment with CBT focuses on thoughts and feelings about the past, present, and future. The emphasis is on what you’re telling yourself and what you’re doing that may be triggering feelings of anxiety or depression. While you can’t directly control your feelings, you can change your thoughts, which can help to change your emotions. By changing thoughts or behaviors, you can also change your feelings.
When you work with a therapist using this method of treatment, the therapist will encourage you to pay attention to what your brain is focusing on and how it’s making you feel. You may come to recognize that some of your thoughts have been irrational or untrue, such as the thought that if you lost your job, you’ll never find another one, or if your partner left it means you are unlovable.
Awareness of the thoughts you’re having and how they’re contributing to painful or uncomfortable feelings is the first step toward choosing to focus on different thoughts. With practice, you can learn to improve your ability to manage your own mind rather than being ruled by your emotions.
Benefits of CBT
Treatment with CBT can help you to recognize and change destructive thought patterns. This can help you quickly identify and cope with specific challenges such as job loss, death of a loved one or coping with physical illness. CBT is done in a structured way and usually requires fewer sessions than other forms of therapy.
Destructive thought patterns are often automatic and can be triggered by events beyond your control. The goal of CBT is to help you learn that, while you can’t control things that are going on around you, you do have control over the thoughts you focus on and how you interpret them. By becoming aware of thoughts that are inaccurate, you can learn to respond to difficult situations in a more effective way. While CBT can’t make troubling situations go away, it can give you a better ability to cope.
Help for Emotional Challenges Triggered by COVID-19
For many people, the pandemic has triggered feelings of hopelessness, tension and fear. You may have experienced sudden changes to your routine, which could include social isolation and possibly financial pressures or loss of a loved one. The constant media coverage can cause a sense of information overload, and you may feel lonely or like your life is completely out of control. These feelings can be especially overwhelming if you have a mental health disorder.
If you or a loved one are struggling with anxiety, depression, or another mental health disorder, please call us at (310) 455-5258 or submit the form below to learn more about our alcohol addiction treatment programs in Los Angeles.