Understanding Psychotherapy: A Guide to CBT

Keegan Warrington
February 14, 2022

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, mental illnesses constitute a huge proportion of disability in developed countries than any other illnesses, including heart disease and cancer. In the United States, around one in five adults are struggling with mental illness, but only around 50% of these people will be able to get the proper treatment.

Stigma still surrounds mental illnesses despite advancements in treatments. However, nowadays, it is important to note that there have been more open discussions about mental health. Additionally, treatments like Psychotherapy or CBT are proven to be successful in addressing the potentially debilitating symptoms of common mental health problems.

In this blog post, we will provide a guide to CBT or Cognitive-behavioral therapy as a form of psychotherapy.

What is Psychotherapy?

Psychotherapy, often referred to as psychological therapy or talk therapy, is a process by which mental health professionals apply scientifically validated procedures to help people develop their own healthier and more effective ways of coping. It is a collaborative treatment between the patient and the mental health professional. It is based on dialogue and provides a safe space for you to talk openly with someone who is non-judgmental, neutral, and objective. One of the most common approaches to psychotherapy is CBT.

What is CBT?

CBT is a form of psychotherapy that combines Cognitive Therapy and Behavioral Therapy. CBT is one of the most highly studied treatments and one of the most used in addressing a variety of disorders, including anxiety therapy. Numerous research suggests that CBT is as effective as, or more effective than, other forms of psychological treatments or psychiatric medications. It is an approach that has ample scientific evidence and its developed methods produce positive change. This makes CBT different from other forms of treatment.

What Are The Core Principles of CBT?

This psychotherapy is based on the following core principles:

  1. Psychological problems are based, in part, on faulty or unhelpful ways of thinking.
  2. Psychological problems are based, in part, on patterns of unhelpful behavior that we have learned.
  3. People suffering from psychological problems can learn better ways of coping with them, thus alleviating their symptoms and becoming more functional and effective in their daily lives.

How CBT works depends on methods which may also differ per person but the main idea behind this treatment is this: our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are all closely tied together. The three create a complex web that has a big impact on our overall well-being.

What Is The Goal Of CBT?

Cognitive-behavioral therapy mainly involves efforts to change faulty thinking patterns. This short-term psychotherapy teaches us how to identify and change destructive thought patterns that influence our behavior. In other words, this treatment teaches us that while we cannot control the things and situations that surround us, we can take control of how we cope with these uncertain circumstances.

What Are The Types of CBT?

Cognitive-behavioral therapy includes a variety of techniques to address the way our thoughts, emotions, and behaviors influence each other. These can range from self-help materials to structured sessions. It is also integrated or used in the following approaches:

  • Cognitive Therapy: One of the bases of CBT, Cognitive therapy focuses on identifying and changing negative or faulty patterns of thinking and emotional responses.
  • Dialectical Behavior Therapy: This approach centers on addressing distorted thoughts and behaviors while integrating mindfulness and emotional regulation.
  • Multimodal Therapy: This treatment is based on the concept that mental health problems must be treated through addressing the seven modalities: effect, behavior, cognition, imagery, interpersonal factors, sensation, and biological or drug-related considerations.
  • Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy: This approach incorporates identifying irrational beliefs, actively changing them, and then learning to recognize these faulty thought patterns.

Each type or approach differs from the other, but they all work toward better thought and behavior patterns, reducing psychological distress.

Where is CBT Used?

CBT has been integrated into treatments for anxiety, trauma-related disorders, and OCD. It is also used in depression therapy. Apart from these, it can also be used to address:

  • Addiction and Substance Use Disorders
  • Schizophrenia and other Psychotic Disorders
  • Personality Disorders
  • Eating Disorders
  • Anger and aggression
  • Phobias
  • Stress

Again, CBT has proven to be an effective treatment for many psychiatric conditions. It is recommended as the main treatment option for common mental health disorders. Apart from these, CBT treatment is also known to help with chronic pain or serious illnesses, grief or loss, self-esteem issues, and relational problems.

What Are The 6 Steps of CBT?

A session of this psychotherapy is often structured. This means it has a set beginning and end. It usually lasts for an hour and is often done one session per week. Each session varies depending on the treatment plan or the agreement between the patient and the therapist, but here are the common steps:

  1. Working with your chosen mental health profession in understanding the traumatic experiences or scenarios in your life such as grief of bereavement, symptoms of a mental illness, or medical conditions
  2. Acknowledging and learning about your thoughts, feelings, and beliefs toward these trauma or difficult experiences.
  3. Identifying and understanding when your thoughts, feelings, and beliefs are inaccurate, negative, or distorted
  4. Finding ways to challenge these faulty thoughts, feelings, and beliefs (i.e. ask yourself: Is it true? So what?)
  5. Recognizing how you react and behave based on these negative beliefs and how you can change them
  6. Find ways to think, feel, and act that are healthier or do not harm you or make your situation difficult

A NOTE ON YOUR FIRST SESSION: The first session is often an opportunity for you to know your therapist’s processes, approaches, and other important information (i.e. type of therapy, number of sessions per week, etc). It may take a few sessions for your therapist to fully understand your case, but don’t be afraid to switch to another therapist if you feel uncomfortable during your first session. Having a good ‘fit’ with your chosen mental health professional will be vital in getting the most out of your therapy sessions.

What Are The Techniques Used In CBT?

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy has three main techniques: Cognitive techniques, behavioral techniques, and goal-setting.

  • Cognitive Techniques: The first technique involves identifying problematic beliefs. Often called functional analysis. This section of the therapy is for seeing a clear picture of your own thoughts, attitudes, and expectations. The main focus is to identify, understand, and change the faulty beliefs you have about certain things.
  • Behavioral Techniques: This technique is based on ‘behaviorism’ theory, which assumes that our behaviors are learned and therefore can be unlearned or learned in a new way. The main goal of this part of psychotherapy is to find out whether your patterns of behavior intensify your problems or make your life difficult. Like faulty thoughts, destructive behaviors need to be identified and changed.
  • Goal-setting: After going through the cognitive and behavioral components, setting new goals and developing new coping skills are next. For example, if you are a person with a substance abuse disorder, you may start using your new skills to avoid situations that might trigger a relapse. New goals can be set in a progressive manner, depending on the individual’s situation.

Additionally, these strategies may also be integrated:

  • Using role-playing to equip the patient for potentially problematic interactions with others
  • Learning to calm one’s mind and relax one’s body

Cognitive Behavior Therapy is best suitable for those who are comfortable with introspection, self-analysis, and self-reflection. These can be difficult tasks, but they present a great opportunity to learn and understand our internal processes and how they affect our outward behavior. This therapy is also an optimal choice for those who are looking for short-term rehabilitation.

How Do You Get Started With CBT?

It is generally common to experience feelings and thoughts that intensify or add to the faulty beliefs we have about ourselves and the world. These thoughts and feelings often result in problematic or destructive behaviors that negatively affect our relationships, career, school, and overall day-to-day living. The overall goal of this therapy is to identify, reshape, and change these thoughts, feelings, and behaviors for individuals to be able to live their lives to the fullest.

If you are looking for psychotherapy to be used in combination with Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation or TMS, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is the most common choice. Research shows that combining TMS Therapy with treatment approaches like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy results in improved and more sustainable outcomes. Roots TMS offers this therapy through our sister company, Roots Through Recovery, which is in the same building.

Why choose Roots? Here at Roots TMS, we offer cutting-edge treatment while providing the highest level of safety and support to our patients. Our treatment team is here to help guide you on your journey to recovery and wellness. Come visit us at 3939 Atlantic Ave, Suite 102 Long Beach, CA 90807, or call (866) 766-8776 for immediate assistance.

Keegan Warrington