Cognitive Behavioral Therapy 101

As a Licensed Professional Counselor, one of the therapy models that I use, especially when working with low self-esteem issues is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or CBT. CBT is the most common therapy model used by counselors. But it not the only one. There are literally hundreds of therapy models. It can get confusing. So, here is a short primer on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to help you understand what it is and how it works. Consider this a sort of “Cognitive Behavior Therapy 101.”


What Is CBT?


Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a highly structured form of therapy that focuses on changing dysfunctional emotions, behaviors, and thoughts by discovering and modifying negative or irrational beliefs. It is considered a “solutions-oriented” form of talk therapy. CBT is based on the premise that our behavior is driven by our thoughts and beliefs. This is consistent with what Scripture teaches. Proverbs 4:23 says, “Guard your heart (thoughts) with all diligence, for from it flow the issues of life.” Proverbs 23:7 says, “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.”


When you are distressed, it tends to alter your perception of reality, which causes anxiety, depression, stress in your relationships, dysfunctional behavior, etc. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy helps you identify your irrational or unhelpful thoughts and/or emotions and develop strategies to overcome them. You will also learn and practice problem-solving skills. You will process other people’s upsetting behaviors and their possible motivations, which will help you get a clearer perspective. When you learn better ways to cope with your distresses, your symptoms lessen and you gain confidence that enables you to begin living the life you want to live.


How Does CBT Help Me Change?

There are things in everyone’s life that they cannot change, and when that is the case, there is one thing that you can change, and that is yourself and how you respond to the things you can’t change. For the things in your life that you can’t change, CBT helps you learn to take control of how you think about and choose to respond to those things in ways that improve your life. As this happens, your mood often improves and your anxiety and/or depression lessens.


When the problem in your life isn’t people or circumstances, but your own thoughts and emotions, we can help you face your fear, anger, sadness, etc. rather than avoiding it. For example, if you’re afraid of going somewhere, we will talk about that fear and where it comes from and why you believe its negative messages. We will work together to create ways that you can change the messages you tell yourself, which will release you from the power of that emotion and get you unstuck.


What Will Happen In CBT?


In your counseling sessions, we will talk about what is distressing you and probe the thoughts or beliefs that are behind that distress. We will use various techniques to change your thoughts, beliefs, and behaviors. Some of these might include:

  • Prayer

  • Role-playing

  • Mindfulness

  • Exposure therapy

  • Journaling

  • Coping strategies

We will practice some of these techniques in the office and you will also have “homework” to practice these at home. As you do, you will start to see your way of thinking and behaving change. You will become calmer and more peaceful as a result.


If you are struggling with low self-esteem, anxiety, depression, trauma, or other distresses in your life, I encourage you to read more about it, and then contact us at Christian Counseling Associates. Ask for me and I will call you to schedule a free consultation to get you started in counseling.

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