One of the best solutions that therapists are recommending to this day is cognitive-behavioral therapy or CBT.
CBT was introduced back in the 60s but became more popular in the 90s. These days, CBT has been recognized as one of the best natural ways to heal anxiety, amongst other ailments, in people because it focuses less on treating the symptoms and more on treating the root cause of the problem. With that being said, you are still offered incredibly powerful tools to help you overcome the symptoms of anxiety, which means you experience all around relief from the problems you are facing.
If you are looking for a natural way to treat your anxiety, or if you are looking for an opportunity to supplement your existing treatment plan with something more natural to support you in experiencing improved relief, CBT may be just what you are looking for. This method can help you regardless of whether or not you are taking medicines or using any other alternative form of healing as the method has an entirely psychological approach. With that being said, it perfectly complements any existing healing plan you may have in place, or it operates as an excellent healing plan all on its own.
For many, CBT is introduced to them by their therapists, but this does not mean that you need to be in therapy to use or benefit from CBT. This particular technique is actually incredibly simple and easy to apply, which means that you can experience great relief from it, whether you are doing it alone or working with someone else to improve your wellbeing. Please be sure to take your time as you work through this book so that you can fully understand and implement each practice with intention. The more care you take in focusing on learning and applying each technique, the more likely you will be able to create relief for yourself.
If you are ready to learn about what CBT is, how it works, and how you can apply it to yourself to improve and at the same time, treat your anxiety symptoms, let’s begin!
Introducing Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Cognitive-behavioral therapy is classified as a form of psychotherapy that is used to treat people by changing the way their minds work. In a very basic sense, the purpose is to teach people how to “think they are healthy.” The truth is, however, that learning how to use the power of your thoughts to heal your life is incredibly challenging and can take a lot of practice and effort. Having an effective, clear path such as the CBT method and framework can help you apply the power of your thought in a way that actually has the capacity to instill changes in your life.
Before you start learning how to use CBT to help you change your own life through relieving your symptoms of anxiety, it is best that you take the time to know and understand what this is and where it comes from. Whenever you are working on changing your life, especially in a mind-altering way, it is always crucial that you are taking the time to really understand what you are doing and how you are doing it.
While CBT is certainly not a dangerous activity, nor does it carry many risks (if any at all), it is still always a good rule of thumb to be intentional about what you are consuming and what treatment methods you are using in your life. Especially when things become problematic, such as anxiety, the situation you are dealing with can become more sensitive, and you need to take extra care to make sure that you are making the best choices for yourself possible.
What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)?
CBT is considered to be a short form of psychotherapy that is used to help people develop skills and strategies that they can use to help them stay more mentally and emotionally healthier in their lives. The goal of CBT is to provide people with adequate coping and resolve skills so that they can stop feeling victimized by their environments and circumstances and start taking control of their lives. When it comes to CBT, the goal is to find the root cause of your problems and heal them. CBT recognizes that emotions tend to arise from perception and thought, so it often equates the root problem of emotional ailments to thought-based problems that need to be addressed through thought-based solutions. This particular psychotherapy method tends to be more rooted in the present as it cares more about your current problems and symptoms than it does about deep past trauma and memories. When you use CBT, the realization is that while traumas and various highly emotional memories do often serve as the root of a problem, the root lies more deeply in the problems that arise in the brain after the trauma, rather than the trauma itself. This trauma can be equated to virtually anything that would stimulate the unhealthy development of emotions that you have been experiencing, such as anxiety, which has to lead you to your desire to seek treatment in the first place. By being focused on the current situation and how your issues are affecting your present day-to-day life, CBT can offer solutions that will help you reclaim the quality of your life while also bringing closure to the troubles you have experienced. This way, you can begin to experience real change and healing all at the same time.
CBT itself is a structured practice and, when practiced in therapy, usually uses anywhere from 6-20 sessions, but no more. The entire goal is for this particular form of therapy to be short term, effective, and to-the-point so that the individual can get back to living a higher quality of life in a healthier and more complete manner. Each session will be largely focused on identifying problems and creating goals and solutions through learning strategies and skills that will help you reach your goals. Because of how it works, CBT is powerful in helping heal previous ailments, but it also goes a long way in minimizing or healing from future problems as well because once you have the skills you need to overcome emotional disturbances, they never leave you. In other words, developing an understanding of how to use these techniques will support you with healing now, as well as coping with any future situations because it improves your mental strength and emotional intelligence.
The History of CBT and How it Became Popular Before CBT was identified as an effective psychotherapy healing method, methods that lead to the creation of CBT existed. These methods were rooted in philosophy in ancient traditions such as Stoicism. Stoic philosophers genuinely believed that logic and reasonable thinking could support someone in identifying and discarding limiting thoughts and beliefs that lead to unwanted emotional experiences. As time went on, researchers began to discover and develop the basis for behavioral therapy, which was the earliest foundation of an entire complex system of behavioral-based psychotherapies that are now used to treat various mental conditions.
In the 50s and 60s, behavioral therapies became the focal point of research for many psychologists, and through this, a lot more studies were done to test the effectiveness of this particular treatment method. Later, in the 80s and 90s, Dr. Aaron T. Beck and Dr. Albert Ellis both took a particular interest in behavioral therapies and how they could be used to support patients in healing their ailments and improving their quality of life. Around the same time, Dr. Beck created CBT, and Dr. Ellis created rational emotive behavior therapy (REBT.) These two therapy methods carry similar structures and beliefs. However, CBT went on to be the most effective and popular one that has been taught to and used by therapists for nearly three decades now.
CBT has gone on to become an “umbrella phrase” for countless types of cognitive-based psychotherapies that are used to help change the minds of people so that they experience less pain and suffering in their lives. Some of the therapies that are blanketed under this phrase are talked about later in this chapter under the section “Alternative Psychotherapies that are Similar to CBT.”
The Effectiveness of CBT and What It Can Treat CBT is considered to be a highly effective cognitive-based psychotherapy that has supported people in overcoming ailments ranging from anxiety and depression to eating disorders and compulsive behaviors. Because of how CBT works, it has proven to have high effectiveness in helping people change their minds by creating new neural pathways that lead to new ways of thinking, believing, feeling, and behaving in their lives. The entire method of CBT is based on the understanding that the human brain has a select series of biases that contribute to how it automatically perceives and thinks about reality. This means that every single one of us is predisposed to seeing our world through a certain lens, so to speak. If your lens is somehow off or supporting an unrealistic, unhelpful, or false perspective that is leading to you feeling anxious, depressed, or any other particularly intense and unhelpful emotion, chances are it is not serving you. Rather than living the rest of your life feeling “doomed” to being trapped in this one viewpoint, you can use CBT to essentially change your lens so that you can see life in a different light.
Once people change their cognitive lens or cognitive framework as it is often called in CBT, they find themselves feeling free from ailments like anxiety, depression, and otherwise. This is because they have officially broken down the methods of perceiving, thinking, and believing that they were leading to feelings and behaviors that were unhelpful to the individual. Across the world, there have been hundreds of thousands of people who have successfully engaged in CBT and seen massive improvements in their ailments. Some go on to completely recover from their ailments, whereas others go on to find themselves feeling far more in control, so they are no longer at risk of having such intense symptoms. With that being said, it is important to understand that sometimes there are incredibly complex cases of anxiety, depression, or other disorders that may not benefit from CBT alone. If you find yourself falling into the category of a highly complex scenario, you may find that you need to combine CBT with other treatments, therapies, or even medicines to help you seek relief from your ailments. There are no right or wrong answers, just the ones that help you feel better, so make sure that you take this into consideration and create a treatment plan with your team that best serves your needs.