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6 Benefits of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

May 07, 2019

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Therapy used to have a stigma that it was only for those with severe mental health issues. But recent studies show that most people believe that this stigma has lessened in recent years, with over 59 million people in the US seeking therapy treatment for a range of issues, problems, and disorders.

One of the most common forms of therapy is called "Cognitive Behavioral Therapy" that can be applied to those suffering from mental health disorders like OCD and depression to those simply suffering from general stress or traumatic life situations.

What is cognitive behavioral therapy, exactly? How can it benefit you?

Keep reading to find out!

What Is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)?

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of therapy that focuses on your thought patterns, your underlying beliefs, and your past experiences and how those affect your actions, perceptions, and current beliefs.

When working with a cognitive behavioral therapist, they'll work to uncover past events, traumas, and situations. They'll also ask you to talk about how and why you think/act in certain ways.

They'll then work with you to identify how those thought patterns might be negatively affecting you and your mental health.

For example, let's say you suffer from depression and have a constant thought pattern where you tell yourself, "My friend didn't want to hang out last night, it must be because they don't like me and I'm a bad person." This leads to worsening depression, you isolating yourself, and making yourself feel bad with more negative thoughts.

You and your therapist will work to identify that initial thought/feeling and work on reframing your cognitive thought pattern to induce a different behavioral response. Perhaps the next time a friend doesn't want to hang out, you'll purposefully think to yourself, "They're just busy, and it isn't about me. I'm going to instead take this time to practice self-care."

That's just one example of how CBT works to analyze and adjust your thoughts (aka your cognitive process) to affect and change behavior in a positive way.

Benefits of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Now that you know generally how CBT works, let's look at the specific benefits of this type of psychotherapy.

1. Helps You Reshape Negative Thinking/Thought Patterns

As we touched on in the definition of CBT, this therapy works by directly confronting your negative thinking and thought patterns. It helps you not only identify where your cognition is hurting your mental health, but it also works to adjust those thought patterns into something positive.

You might not even realize that how you think or act is making your anxiety worse or contributing to your mental health problem until you hash it out with a CBT therapist. This will help reshape your thoughts and overcome patterns that are holding you back.

2. Can Lower Depression Symptoms

Cognitive behavioral therapy for depression is particularly helpful. Numerous studies show that CBT helps depression patients overcome:

  • Low motivation
  • Low self-esteem
  • Hopelessness
  • Harmful coping behaviors (disordered eating, self-harm, etc)

It also lowers the risk of patients relapsing into depression later on after therapy. This is because CBT gives you actionable and permanent changes in your cognition instead of just a "quick fix" on depression symptoms. This allows patients to overcome those negative emotions/behaviors in the short- and long-term. 

3. Improve Self-Esteem

Self-esteem and confidence are how we perceive ourselves and what we tell ourselves is true about us and our identities. Imagine if you consistently thought negatively about yourself. You'd feel sad, not confident, bad about yourself, etc.

CBT identifies thought patterns that lead to low self-esteem and reshapes those thoughts to produce improved self-esteem and confidence. You'll not only learn how to stop negative/toxic thoughts, but you'll also learn positive thought patterns, affirmations, and statements that will influence your cognition and your behavioral patterns moving forward.

4. Help Pinpoint Goals/Areas to Work On

During even your first couple of sessions, you and your therapist will identify these harmful cognitive patterns that are affecting you. This will outline clear and actionable goals for you to work on. 

This is especially helpful for those feeling overwhelmed about their mental health issue, problem, or trauma. It's hard to go into something as big as, "I need to overcome my eating disorder." It makes it easy to get overwhelmed and not try.

CBT has that goal-oriented benefit that will give you specific and clear things to work on all in the name of overcoming a larger problem.

5. Able to Apply Reconceptualization to New Problems

As we mentioned in the section on overcoming depression, many patients experience less of a chance of relapse in their depression after CBT. This is true for many patients working on all sorts of issues in CBT because of the permanent and long-lasting effect of this style of therapy.

You learn to actively identify negative thought patterns. As soon as a new situation or negative/toxic thought comes up in your life, you'll be able to use the skills you learned in CBT to identify it.

You'll then use your skills in reconceptualization and reframing that you learned to adjust your thoughts and move forward with healthy thoughts and behaviors, no matter what the new problem/thought is in your life.

6. Works Quickly and Effectively for a Number of Mental Health Issues

We've mentioned a few times that CBT is highly applicable to many issues, problems, and disorders. Let's give you a short list of some of the common applications of CBT:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Anxiety disorders (social anxiety, OCD, PTSD, etc)
  • Eating disorders
  • Sleep disorders 
  • Anger/aggression issues
  • Substance abuse
  • General stress/trauma
  • Schizophrenia
  • Psychotic disorders
  • Personality disorders

This is just a short list of all of the applications of CBT! Almost anyone can benefit from how this therapy reframes your thinking to be positive and healthy and, in turn, lead to positive and healthy behaviors/actions.

Wrapping Up

Cognitive behavioral therapy is a common and versatile therapy method that can truly benefit almost anyone. Combining this therapy with other things like medication and your faith can prove extremely beneficial to you.

If you want to learn more about how your faith can affect your life (especially alongside other positive behaviors like seeking therapy!), check out our blog on spiritual growth topics.