What Are Some Cognitive Behavioral Exercises I May Learn in Therapy?

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Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of psychological treatment used to help treat conditions such as depression, anxiety disorders, substance use disorders (SUDs), marital problems, eating disorders, and much more. The American Psychological Association (APA) emphasizes 3 core principles that CBT relies on:

  1. That psychological problems are based in part on faulty thinking patterns.
  2. That psychological problems are based in part on learned patterns of unhelpful behavior.
  3. That people struggling with psychological problems can learn better ways of coping with them, thus making their psychological problem more manageable and relieving their symptoms

With these principles in mind, CBT often places autonomy on the client themselves as they must work towards their recovery actively through practicing exercises learned in therapy. The following are some classic CBT exercises to really get your mind going:

  • Practice noticing any cognitive distortions you may be having. For example, if you recognize you’ve been thinking quite negatively, stay attuned to these thoughts throughout the week and notice how often they come up. Question yourself by thinking of what other ways you could think.
  • Track your rumination. Oftentimes, when anxiety and/or depression kicks in, we think about our past or future over and over again, with the belief that we are helping ourselves. In reality, this is holding us back from the present moment; investigate your rumination by keeping notes on what you’ve ruminated about over the week and whether or not this has truly helped you in living moment by moment.
  • Run experiments on your beliefs. For example, if you always say to yourself, “I will never finish the book I’m reading”, try setting aside 15 minutes each night before bed to read. Keep a log and write down whether or not you felt good about being able to read and relax each evening.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) emphasizes that by practicing CBT, you are training your brain to think differently – thus giving you a boost in your mental health recovery. The next time you’re experiencing negative thoughts or feelings, try one of these exercises and see how you feel. If you haven’t already, speak with a professional from a reputable treatment center to learn more about CBT and how you can incorporate it into your program.

Avalon Malibu is a world-renowned, California state-licensed mental health and substance abuse recovery center. If you are ready to seek treatment to develop the tools you need to overcome life’s obstacles and be on the road towards happiness, health, and well-being, call us today at 888-958-7511 for a consultation. It’s never too late, and there are people here ready to help you.

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