Cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, is a technique used in therapy to help people change negative habits of thinking into more positive, productive ones. Beck Institute for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy states that the way individuals perceive a situation is more closely connected to their reaction than to the situation itself. CBT has been used for many issues, including anxiety, depression, addiction, and other mental illnesses. Individuals who practice CBT can learn alternative ways of thinking and reacting to stressful and unwanted situations. Dr. Alice Boyes, researcher and writer for Psychology Today offers several practices that you can do at home to begin working on CBT:
- Keep a thought record. Check in with yourself throughout the day and write down thoughts you are having. You may notice some unhelpful patterns of thought. For example, if you receive criticism from a supervisor or teacher and your immediate thought was like “My supervisor thinks I’m useless” this provides insight into your immediate reaction.
- Behavioral experiments. Try testing different theories with yourself to see what works best. For example, if you criticize yourself for overeating, observe your actions in the future to see if that truly stops you from making that decision again. Another time, try talking very kindly to yourself about overeating and see if that works instead.
- Pleasant activity scheduling. For the next 7 days, schedule one pleasant activity that you wouldn’t normally do. This can take less than 10 minutes, and could be something as small as reading a chapter of a book, or going out to lunch and not rushing back to work so quickly. Completing these activities each day will help bring back more positive emotions into your life.
- Situation exposure. This involves doing things that you would normally avoid doing. With this, you may create a list of activities that you perceive would make you feel a little to a lot of distress. From 1 to 10, you would list these items from least to greatest distress. The idea is that you would complete several of these items over the course of a few days until the distress you felt is half of what it originally was.
CBT practices can be great for learning how to react differently to various perceived stressors. Practice one of these at a time and see what works best for you; each person is different and different techniques work for different people.
If you have a mental illness and are seeking a treatment center where you can work with a therapist, call Avalon Malibu at 844-269-1761. We are California state-licensed and we provide trusted results. For a confidential assessment and more information about how we can best suit your needs, give us a call today.