For centuries, mental distress has been seen as either weakness or cause for outcasting. These predetermined notions could not be further from the truth. If you're experiencing any signs of mental struggles, therapy can be the tool you need to live your highest quality life. Not sure where to begin? Here are three reasons why you should consider cognitive behavioral therapy as your first method of treatment.
What many fail to realize, is that mental health is closely linked with physical and emotional health. When one of these aspects is off-kilter, it directly affects the rest. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), is rooted in the idea that a person's thoughts, behaviors, and emotions are all connected. Should you choose to attend CBT sessions, your therapist will work to find the root of your triggers and create a tangible plan to reduce their effects.
This concept of discovery and preparation will equip you with the ability to recognize your triggers moving forward and apply your coping mechanisms. In short, you'll be ready to face the things that cause your stress and anxiety, and stop them before they reach a point of debilitation. Finding this correlation between your behaviors, internal thoughts, and emotions will help you in both the short and long-term.
Face Your Fears
Cognitive-behavioral therapy is one of the most widely-used forms of treatment. Why is it so successful, you ask? It's not a one-and-done system. When you attend CBT, you're not looking to place a band-aid over your issues by merely talking them through. This method of aid will equip you with all that you need to continuously face your mental duress. Consistent attendance in CBT can combat daily anxiety, past traumas, and specific future events.
When you're able to pinpoint the exact trigger of your mental illness, it opens up a world of options to face them. Many CBT sessions are offered as group therapy. In these sessions, under the supervision of a professional, attendees are encouraged to face their fears head-on. For instance, if you're experiencing crippling social anxiety, you'll be encouraged to make small talk with another attendee that you have yet to meet. Other members of the group can offer their feedback as to when/where you struggled most, and the therapist can provide suggestions. These interactions continue until you gain confidence in social interactions. This process takes time, but with the right help and effort, it's often quite successful.
In many forms of therapy, patients are encouraged from their first session onward to talk out their fears and stressors. Often, this treatment approach is successful simply in airing out what is kept inside. However, for many, talk therapy is not enough to see the desired, daily change. CBT therapists often give a homework assignment for each patient to work on throughout their week. The goal behind this method of behavior therapy is to apply what's learned in session to daily life.
This form of CBT treatment is meant to challenge its patients—when a licensed professional deems them ready—to apply their newly-learned skills in triggering circumstances. Assignments can be as simple as documenting your behavior patterns that accompany a specific problem you face. What were you doing or saying when the trigger arose? What were you feeling and thinking in that moment? Did you do anything that relieved the heaviness? Did anything make it worse? When you meet in the next session, you'll present these notes to your group or your therapist. You'll then test various responses given to you by your behavior therapist to see if you can create a behavior change moving forward.