Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) helps people change the way they think and further how they react. Its goal is cognitive restructuring in essence. During the process, they inspect an individual’s thoughts and behaviors.
They aim to alter cognitive distortions and self-defeating behaviors. Their goals are centered on assisting people and making adaptive instead of maladaptive appraisals.
Hundreds of studies underline the efficacy of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy. They can help treat PTSD, anxiety disorders, depression, eating disorders, bipolar disorders, and issues related to substance abuse.
Its use is paramount in eliminating suicidal thoughts and increasing thoughts of hopelessness. By using the technique of reappraisal or cognitive restructuring, they have helped many people.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy aims to change cognitive distortions and self-defeating behaviors by using techniques like the ABC model. Under this model, there is an:
Action (the motivating event), followed by the
Belief regarding this event and the
Consequences that stem from this belief.
For example, Martin and Marlin have made a rendezvous with a young woman at a party. Martin is interacting with Lola, and Marlin is talking to Shia. By the end of the party, Martin asks Lola for her phone number, and Marlin asks Shia for hers; to which both the women tell the men that they are reluctant to share their numbers.
The men are taken aback because they felt like the night was smooth sailing. Now, suppose Martin conjectures that he is ugly and attractive and hence women dislike his company.
He can let this notion shatter the self-confidence that impedes him from stepping out again. This will lead to a never-ending depressive spiral. On the other hand, Marlin can deduce that he may have had a bad breath that night and decide to buy a good toothpaste to avoid such mishaps again.
Martin’s belief induces self-pity and depression, whereas Marlin’s beliefs do not. Martin is internalizing the rebuffs in the form of depression. On the contrary, Marlin is accepting his defeat gracefully and not falling prey to depression.
By using cognitive behavioral therapy, individuals can discern adaptive thoughts from maladaptive ones. They help people avoid all thinking, nothing thinking, over-generalization, and jumping to conclusions. People might over-generalize situations and think “I am ugly” or “I am a loser”. But these thoughts are self-destructive and should be eradicated.
All or nothing thinking is a type of cognitive distortion that is manifested by people grieving from depression. They exhibit in maxima. Everything is in black and white for them, like how Martin instantly forms a grotesque train of thoughts about himself because someone turned him down. He suddenly becomes pessimistic and anxious and starts pondering his future.
People also jump to conclusions, mostly negative. They may assume that the people around them perceive them in a negative light. However, there is no evidence to suggest that. Consider the example of Simran and Ankita who just met at a party.
They seem to have common grounds, and Simran thinks that they can be good friends. So, she invites Ankita over for coffee. But when Ankita fails to answer, Simran leaves her a message. After not hearing back for many days, Simran can assume that Ankita never got the message or was too busy to revert.
Or she can conclude that Ankita dislikes her. This would be a form of cognitive distortions, namely jumping to conclusions.
MERITS OF CBT
1) It is instrumental in a case where medicine alone cannot get the job done.
2) It is relatively shorter.
3) It has a wide range and can be found online, in self-help books, groups, and applications.
4) It educates people regarding more pragmatic strategies to be incorporated into everyday life.
DEMERITS OF CBT
1) The process is all about commitment and cooperation. If the individual has reservations, it will not work.
2) Regular attending of CBT sessions may be time-consuming.
3) It is not advisable for people with complex mental issues to resort to CBT.
4) Emotionally robust People are ideal candidates for CBT as it is highly confrontational and induces anxiety.
5) The locus of CBT is to alter a person’s feelings, thoughts, and behaviors. It does not address trauma or other factors affecting a person’s mental health.
The major takeaway is that CBT can help in altering deep-seated notions that distort the image of reality. People are often sabotaging their existence by internalizing futile rebuffs. By interacting with another person, they may alter these thoughts and promote a happier existence.