Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or CBT, is one of the most prevalent and promising treatments for anxiety, stress, depression and other mental health issues. It is very helpful in changing negative self-talk and improving confidence. It is the gold-standard of treatment for changing negative thinking patterns that fuel “issues” such as anxiety, stress, and depression. We offer CBT therapy in Kelowna, BC and online therapy throughout British Columbia.
The premise of CBT is that our thoughts (cognitive) influence how we feel, which influence what we do, or do not do (behaviour).
Our thoughts influence how we feel, which influence how we act.
It’s not necessarily the situation, it’s our perspective on the situation.
When we work together, we go through a personalized example of your Situation, Thoughts, Feelings, and Behaviours.
Examples of How CBT and Counselling Can Help
I love to use personalized resources, worksheets, practical exercises, and books, podcasts, websites, and apps for clients to own & hone their skill in this.
CBT is helpful in shifting irrational, negative self-talk to more realistic thinking.
Changing our Negative Self-Talk to more Realistic Thinking
Our thoughts really can impact the way we feel. If you are telling yourself:
“YOU ARE NOT GOOD ENOUGH, OR NOT AS ‘SMART/PRETTY/INTERESTING’ AS ‘SO-AND-SO’ OR ‘YOU SHOULD BE DOING MORE’
You probably are not going to feel your best, or perform your best in your sport, work, relationships, or overall life.
“Changing our unhelpful thoughts to realistic or helpful ones is a key to feeling better. “Realistic thinking” means looking at yourself, others, and the world in a balanced and fair way, without being overly negative or positive. For example:”
|Unhelpful and unrealistic thought
|More realistic and balanced thought
|I always screw things up, I’m such a loser. What’s wrong with me?
|Everyone makes mistakes, including me – I’m only human. All I can do now is try my best to fix the situation and learn from this experience.
|I can’t do it. I feel way too anxious. Why can’t I control my anxiety?
|It’s OK and normal to feel anxious. It’s not dangerous, and it doesn’t have to stop me. I can feel anxious and STILL go to the party.
Time, Consistency, and Practice!
CBT focuses on how people think (cognitive), what people feel (emotionally and physically in their bodies), and how people act (behaviours). The brain is incredible! It is tempting to think, “I’ll always be like this,” “What’s the point, I can’t change” However, research tells us that is NOT true! We call this neuroplasticity. You can actually change your thought patterns, or how you think or talk to yourself. It takes about 6-8 weeks (on average) to change your “automatic negative thoughts” or negative self-talk patterns to a more balanced, realistic way to talk to yourself or think. (See the visual example below from Sit With It).
But I describe it in this way that mental health is like dental health: if you never brushed your teeth and just started for one session, for an hour, you would not see a drastic improvement in your dental health with just one time. You would just have really sore gums! But, if you started to brush your teeth for two minutes a day, twice a day, over 1-2 months you will look back and say “wow I have really come a long way, I have healthy habits instilled, and an overall healthy mouth! My hard work has paid off!” Time, consistency, and practice is key. The same is true for mental health, or changing negative thought patterns or self-talk that often fuel anxiety, stress, and depression. A little bit of practice each day on these mental skills learned in counselling will make a huge difference in your life, work, school, relationships, and overall wellbeing with time, consistency, and practice.
When we work together, we work through personalized resources and exercises for you to change your thought patterns, to change how you feel, and even act.
We work together to Understand your Stuff to see where these “issues” , perspectives, and ways of thinking come from. When we can understand them, we can overcome them.
One (free!) resource I highly recommend is put out by Anxiety Canada. The website version is called My Anxiety Plan. It has specific sections for adults, youth, and children. Their (also free!) app is called MindShft CBT that I also highly recommend to clients. These are great supplemental resources to utilize in between sessions to really gain traction and create new thought patterns to overcome anxiety.
Another great CBT resource for Anxiety, Stress, and Depression is an app called Sanvello.
One of my favourite CBT resources for anxiety is the website Anxiety Canada and the free app Mindshift. Check out more about what exactly is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and how it can help you and your anxiety ! I hope you find it helpful for you or someone you care about 🙂
What is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)?
Why is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy considered the “gold standard” in anxiety treatment?
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is an evidence-based psychological treatment that was developed through decades of scientific research.
Research shows that CBT is the most effective psychological treatment for managing anxiety. It is also an effective treatment for depression, chronic pain, disordered eating, anger issues, addiction, and low self-esteem.
CBT Focuses on the Present
An important principle of CBT is that treatment involves dealing with the symptoms that you face in the present, rather than focusing on the cause of your problem. Although it can be interesting to understand how your anxiety developed, just knowing why you have anxiety is often not enough to help you manage it. CBT:
…gives you a new way of understanding and thinking about your problem.
…provides you with the skills to deal with the issues that you are struggling with right now.
… is often a short-term treatment option and is offered in both individual and group settings.
… can be done with a trained CBT therapist, in a group setting, or you can practice it on your own.
Read on to learn more.
#OurAnxietyStories – The Anxiety Canada Podcast features several anxiety stories involving CBT. In this episode of #OurAnxietyStories, CBC’s Tom Power shares his journey with anxiety—something he didn’t realize he struggled with until his adult years.
Tom recalls being in his mid-twenties at a social gathering and thinking he was having a heart attack, only to learn it was a panic attack when he sought medical attention.
In this episode, Tom reflects on several instances of anxiety in his life, including at the dentist and the grocery store, and while interviewing Academy Award-winning director Guillermo del Toro.
Through exposure therapy, Tom learned that panic attacks only last so long and he can get through them—an invaluable lesson that has helped him until this day.
Anxiety is still present in Tom’s life, but he shares that CBT and meditation have helped him manage it.
Why is CBT effective?
CBT focuses on the way people think (“cognitive”) and act (“behavioural”). CBT suggests that our thoughts about a situation affect how we feel (emotionally and physically) and how we behave in that situation. By identifying these unhelpful thoughts initially through the principles of CBT, we are able to stop them in their tracks.
As human beings, we naturally give meaning to events that are happening around us. However, we often don’t realize that two people can give two very different meanings to the same event. The meanings we assign to the situation affect how we feel and act rather than the situation itself, and these meanings are not always accurate, realistic, or helpful.
Unhelpful thoughts lead to unpleasant emotions and unhelpful behaviours (e.g., avoidance) that reinforce our negative thoughts and maintain the problem. In other words, our thoughts, feelings and behaviours can interact and influence each other to create a vicious cycle.
We all have negative thoughts every now and then, but if we consistently apply negative meanings to events, then we are likely to experience problems with anxiety or depression. CBT can help us break out of the vicious cycle.
Exposure therapy (see Facing Your Fears – Exposure) and balanced thinking are vital tools in your CBT toolkit. Learning to take a closer look at your thoughts and coming up with more balanced and realistic thoughts is an important step in managing anxiety (see Helpful Thinking for more information).
Key Aspects of CBT:
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a widely used therapeutic approach that focuses on the relationship between thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. It is based on the idea that our thoughts and beliefs influence our emotions and behaviors, and that changing maladaptive thought patterns can lead to changes in emotional well-being and behavior.
Key principles of CBT include:
- Cognitive Restructuring: This involves identifying and challenging negative thought patterns or cognitive distortions. Clients learn to recognize and reframe irrational or negative thoughts, replacing them with more realistic and positive ones.
- Behavioral Techniques: CBT also emphasizes the role of behavior in influencing emotions. Clients work on changing specific behaviors that may be contributing to their difficulties. This involves setting goals, developing coping strategies, and gradually exposing oneself to feared or avoided situations.
- Homework and Skill Building: Clients often engage in homework assignments between therapy sessions to practice and reinforce the skills learned in therapy. This helps to generalize the skills to real-life situations.
- Goal-Oriented and Time-Limited: CBT is typically a short-term, goal-oriented therapy. Clients and therapists collaborate to identify specific, measurable goals and work towards achieving them within a defined timeframe.
- Collaborative Relationship: The therapist and client work together as a team, with the therapist providing support, guidance, and teaching practical skills. The client is an active participant in the therapeutic process.
CBT has been shown to be effective for a variety of mental health conditions, including anxiety disorders, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and many others. It is a structured and practical approach that is often used in individual or group therapy settings.