Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Explained

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Cognitive behavioral therapy doesn’t discount the power or importance of the emotional apparatus in human life but it does choose to put the emphasis on cognition, on challenging and correcting faulty thinking patterns, in order to effect therapeutic change.

In this sense from the CBT point of view the way you feel is a direct result of how you think, a direct result of your beliefs about yourself, others, and the world. Say for example that you’re constantly feeling guilty. There’s a reason for this guilt, a thought process behind it. If this thought process is objectively valid then guilt is the appropriate response. But it’s more than likely that many of your beliefs, beliefs you take to be objectively valid and therefore in no need of clarifying or challenging, aren’t objectively valid at all. They can be challenged and proven to be faulty. If you replace them with thoughts that better reflect objective reality then suddenly the unwanted feelings tied to the old thoughts diminish or go away.

You’ve probably heard the quip that your beliefs about your reality determine your reality. From the CBT point of view this isn’t just philosophical mumbo jumbo but true in the concrete sense of the word. It’s our beliefs around the activating events in our lives that end up leading to the consequences in our lives. Most of us see the world in terms of cause and effect, in terms of activating event and consequence. We remain largely unaware of that vital middle section, the section called beliefs, probably because our narcissism keeps us from considering that those beliefs could be subjectively biased. Most of us take our beliefs about the world as givens, as simply the way things are, and then go about conducting our lives based upon those supposedly objectively valid presuppositions.

CBT steps in help people come to the rational insight that many of their thinking patterns aren’t objectively valid, they’re faulty. Here is a linked list of some common faulty thinking patterns:

All Or Nothing Thinking
Automatic Negative Thinking
Disqualifying The Positives
Fortune Telling
Magical Thinking
Mind Reading