Cognitive Behavior Therapy
By: Andre Amaro, Masters Level Intern
Hello everyone, my name is Andre Amaro and I am a Master’s level intern here at Inner Courage Counseling. First off, happy month of November! For this blog I wanted to take a step back as I know I usually have discussions about certain topics and issues surrounding mental health that are very important to me; however, for this blog I wanted to discuss how I utilize Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) with clients in order to provide some insight of how I go about my counseling sessions and to show others what you might expect from me if we ever work together. I love using CBT with my clients because this is a theory that has been proven to be empirically validated and successful in the treatment of various mental health disorders, especially when it comes to issues surrounding anxiety and depression. CBT is a structured approach that is active and problem-focused, and examines the interactions between our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Some objectives of CBT are helping individuals to understand how their thoughts can impact their behaviors, helping them develop awareness and challenge their automatic thoughts, beliefs and assumptions to various situations, and reducing the symptoms of their disorders by helping them change how they respond to their environment. Essentially, CBT helps people gain control over their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, which is key towards reducing the symptoms of their presenting problem.
There are various methods that I use with my clients during sessions when I am utilizing CBT. One of the first methods that I typically use is providing psychoeducation, which I use as a way to help my clients develop awareness of their negative thinking patterns and gain a better understanding of their unhealthy thoughts. This means helping my clients look into how they organize information about their environment, which is referred to as schemas, and helping them learn about their negative assumptions and core beliefs about the world. Negative thinking leads to negative behaviors, which can lead to many unhealthy patterns that can develop into a mental disorder(s). After providing psychoeducation on CBT; I then try to help my clients make connections between their thoughts and feelings, and help them gain insight into how they are impacting their current behaviors as well. I will help my client’s challenge their maladaptive thoughts through a method called cognitive restructuring, where it involves changing negative thoughts into positive and more healthy ones. This is because changing how a person thinks and can change what they do, or how they react to certain situations. To help my clients gain insight into their behaviors, I may use the ABC model which is a method that looks into the activating event or triggers to a person’s problem, then the thoughts, beliefs, and feelings associated with those triggers or activating event, and then determining the consequences of a person’s thoughts, beliefs, and feelings and identifying how they are responding to the event or trigger. This method is useful in breaking down the problem into parts and helping clients address each part individually. To address negative behaviors specifically in a person, what I try to do is understand how my clients learn information from the world and how they respond to certain situations, as this information will be important for me to take into consideration during treatment because addressing negative behaviors may involve changing them through teaching or experimenting techniques.
Other interventions that I may use with my clients that are associated with CBT are journaling and keeping thought records, activity scheduling, role playing, using breathing and relaxation exercises, and more importantly assigning homework assignments, which may involve using worksheets and practicing certain exercises at home in order to make sure that my clients are applying what they learned during their sessions with me. CBT has many different interventions and strategies that can be used in counseling, which is why I really love using this type of therapy with clients. There are many more interventions that I have not mentioned that are associated with CBT, but these were just a few that I typically use with clients and it all really depends on their presenting issues. When working with me, together we will collaborate and set clear and concrete goals for you in therapy, as I may use be using CBT as a way to help you reach those goals and improve on your presenting problem. If you are interested in working with me and learning more about CBT, please do not hesitate to reach out to Inner Courage Counseling so that you can schedule a session with me, and we can start working together so that I can help you. I want to thank everyone for taking to time for reading my blog, and hope everyone has a great month of November and Happy Thanksgiving to everyone as well!