What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, otherwise known as CBT, is one of the most well- known forms of therapy that addresses cognitions (thoughts), feelings, and behaviors (actions). The main goal of CBT is to explore how our thoughts and feelings guide our behaviors, impacting our overall well-being.

First, we look at the thoughts, or cognitions. We develop these thoughts that automatically pop into our head. These thoughts are known as automatic thoughts, and they become a habit that we begin to live by. Automatic thoughts are important because of the instant impact they have on how we feel and behave. For example, you wake up every morning and the first thought that comes to your mind may be, “I don’t want to get out of bed” or “today is going to suck at work”. Through repeatedly having these thoughts, the thoughts quickly become overwhelmingly negative. The automatic negative thought can lead to your own negative, personal mantra that causes you to start out every day in an already negative headspace before having your first cup of coffee! Due to the harmful thought about how much you dread going to work, you show up feeling and acting like it is the worse day ever. This action is your emotional and behavioral response that is directly triggered by the thought.

So, what happens if we adjust our thoughts and train ourselves to think more realistically? What then happens to our day at work? Let’s consider this, instead of always thinking how bad the workday will be, shift the thought to be “I will go to work and it will be fine”. This thought seems to be more realistic because it does not assume that the day will automatically be horrible. Instead, it allows optimism for the day turning out fine. Resulting behaviors could be a more open mind about how the workday will go and that maybe it is possible for work to be fine.

Adjusting your thoughts can seem simple, however it can be a challenge to become aware of the negative automatic thoughts. It may also be difficult to identify thoughts that are realistic to you. Try creating a new thought that is simple, straightforward, and most importantly, achievable. Starting out simple is a good start!

If you find yourself curious to learn more about CBT or how to identify your negative automatic thoughts, reach out and let us help you create the positive change you have been seeking.

Photo by Ryan Gagnon on Unsplash

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