Healthy Mind

Cog­ni­tive be­havioural ther­apy helps you bet­ter un­der­stand neg­a­tive thoughts and de­velop strate­gies to over­come them.

Health & Nutrition - - CONTENTS -

Over­come neg­a­tive thoughts

Every­one has bad thoughts at times. Of­ten they are not a prob­lem, but if neg­a­tive think­ing be­comes more reg­u­lar, mak­ing you con­stantly feel stressed or an­gry, you may need to al­ter your thought pat­terns. Cog­ni­tive Be­havioural Ther­apy (CBT) can help. The goal of CBT is to help you in­crease aware­ness of your thought and be­hav­iour and learn how to change your re­ac­tions to stress­ful sit­u­a­tions.

How CBT Works

CBT can help peo­ple deal with neg­a­tive think­ing that arises from many com­mon psy­cho­log­i­cal is­sues, such as anx­i­ety, de­pres­sion, fear, com­pul­sive dis­or­ders, and pho­bias. Peo­ple face many crises as they age that can trig­ger these prob­lems and thus stir up neg­a­tive thoughts – from the death of a

The goal of CBT is to help you in­crease aware­ness of your thought and be­hav­iour and learn how to change your re­ac­tions to stress­ful sit­u­a­tions.

friend or spouse to dras­tic changes in health, like be­ing di­ag­nosed with an ail­ment. Left alone, con­stant neg­a­tive think­ing can un­der­cut many healthy be­hav­iours and lead to so­cial iso­la­tion and poor self-care. Dur­ing CBT ses­sions, you work with a ther­a­pist to ex­plore your neg­a­tive think­ing pat­terns – when they hap­pen, how you re­act, and the re­sult. For ex­am­ple, say a friend does not re­turn your call. Your mind be­gins to play out cat­a­strophic sce­nar­ios, like the friend is pur­posely snub­bing you or hates you, which can trig­ger anx­i­ety. Then you might par­lay that neg­a­tive think­ing into un­healthy be­hav­iour like re­turn­ing the snub or avoid­ing so­cial events that the per­son might at­tend. In ad­di­tion to one-onone time in ther­apy, you of­ten are given home­work be­tween ses­sions to help the process. For in­stance, you may be asked to record your neg­a­tive thoughts when they arise – the sit­u­a­tion, what may have trig­gered your neg­a­tive think­ing, the kind of thoughts you had, and how you felt af­ter­ward.

Try­ing Strate­gies

Tak­ing all this in­for­ma­tion into ac­count, the ther­a­pist then works with you to de­velop strate­gies to cre­ate a more pos­i­tive re­ac­tion when neg­a­tive thoughts arise. In the sce­nario de­scribed above, the ther­a­pist might en­cour­age you to ex­plore what ev­i­dence you have to sup­port your thoughts about your friend. Could there be an­other ex­pla­na­tion? What ad­vice would you give to some­one else hav­ing that re­ac­tion? This, in turn, might lead you to con­sider that you don’t know that your friend hates you and, in fact, he or she may just be busy. With the ther­a­pist’s help, you can come up with a ra­tio­nal re­sponse that won’t de­rail a pos­i­tive and healthy re­la­tion­ship.

A More Ap­peal­ing Ther­apy

Un­like other ther­apy that may last months or even in­def­i­nitely, CBT is usu­ally short­term. Weekly ses­sions con­tinue for about 12 to 20 vis­its, de­pend­ing on the is­sue. For men who feel un­com­fort­able with more tra­di­tional psy­chother­apy, CBT may be a bet­ter op­tion. CBT puts pa­tients more in con­trol. It is a two-way con­ver­sa­tion, and pa­tients are en­cour­aged to be more ac­tive in de­vel­op­ing strate­gies since they have to im­ple­ment them. Ul­ti­mately, CBT is about cre­at­ing the tools you need to be your own ther­a­pist. Keep in mind that CBT is like any other pa­tient­doc­tor re­la­tion­ship, and you may not con­nect with your ther­a­pist at first. Ther­a­pists have dif­fer­ent styles and ap­proaches that may not work for every­one. If it doesn’t feel right, don’t get dis­cour­aged and give up. Ex­press your con­cerns to your ther­a­pist first, but if he or she doesn’t ad­dress them in a sat­is­fac­tory way, try some­one else.

CBT puts pa­tients more in con­trol. It is a two-way con­ver­sa­tion, and pa­tients are en­cour­aged to be more ac­tive in de­vel­op­ing strate­gies since they have to im­ple­ment them.

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