We have been looking at the Mayo Clinic’s page about cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which relates how a therapist can help a person reshape negative or inaccurate thinking, in such words as these:
You may have long-standing ways of thinking about your life and yourself. With practice, helpful thinking and behavior patterns will become a habit and won’t take as much effort.
The next section describes how to get the utmost value from CBT, to make it a success. First, understand that the endeavor is a partnership with two participants (or more, if the setting is family or group therapy.) As is generally true of relationships, it is very helpful to bring to the table the qualities of openness and honesty.
Honesty or frankness applies to output; on the input side of the equation is your willingness to open up a space in your head to accept new ideas. If there are things you absolutely do not want to talk about, nobody will force you. Still, it is recommended to make clear to the therapist that there are “places you don’t want to go.”
How to get with the program
Resolve to stick to the treatment plan and attend all sessions. It’s the very least you can do. Better yet, give some thought to what you want to discuss. In other words, do your homework. If the therapist suggests reading something, or keeping a journal, or whatever — at least give it the old college try. Persevere, and don’t expect anything to happen overnight. It took a long time for you to get to this point. The remodeling might take some time, too.
But if, after a while, you are truly stumped and just don’t feel any forward motion, please share that with your therapist. His or her feelings will not be hurt. The therapist’s job is to guide and coach, to be a resource, and to help you advocate for yourself, to yourself.
Let that person do his or her job! CBT has a very malleable structure and wide-ranging philosophy, and encompasses a lot of techniques. Your therapist probably has more tricks up her or his sleeve, but unless you make plain the need to pull them out, you will never discover their value.
One cornerstone of behavioral therapy is the identification of modifiable behavior. If the goal is weight reduction, for instance, for most people the level of physical activity is modifiable, along with the ability to drink more water and adopt new eating habits.
“Different strokes for different folks,” as the old saying goes, and different approaches for different needs. The prizes are the ability to identify and disarm behavior triggers, handle stress, and defeat urges. Inner conflicts can indeed be resolved, and reaching the first goal lends confidence toward pursuing additional goals.
Many descriptions of CBT
Another definition of CBT uses slightly different language: “The goal of treatment is to identify, monitor, and tackle the cognitions and behaviors that maintain the disorder while heightening the motivation for change.” Another source says the client is taught techniques to monitor and change their eating habits, as well as to change the way they respond to difficult and stressful situations.
Obviously, monitoring is of major importance. It can be achieved by the client’s mindfulness, or by electronic surveillance, or both.
People have always responded to stress, but this is about new and different ways of responding to stress. CBT aims to break up maladaptive patterns of behavior “before they become ingrained,” and this is where adolescents with eating disorders are fortunate. They have had less time than adults to practice the old, counterproductive ways, so CBT helps them recover at a higher rate than adults.
We mentioned before how a very large number of psychologists “identified cognitive therapy, problem-solving and mindfulness as ‘excellent’ or ‘good’ weight loss strategies.” Perhaps the most exciting aspect of CBT is its trans-diagnostic approach. Adventurous therapists have adapted it to meet an astonishing variety of needs, with impressive success.
Your responses and feedback are welcome!
Source: “Cognitive Behavioral Therapy,” MayoClinic.org, undated
Photo via Visualhunt