Cognitive Behavioural Therapy For Dummies
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Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) involves many helpful thoughts, practices and alternative perspectives that can change how you see yourself and your world for the better. As well as aiding recognised conditions, CBT can help you to transform how you feel about yourself generally, and you can become more forward thinking and constructive with regards to past, present and future.

The characteristics of cognitive behavioural therapy

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is becoming a popular option for people who want to increase their self-confidence and move away from self-destructive behaviour. This list sums up some of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy’s many features and effects:

  • CBT helps you to develop flexible, self-enhancing beliefs and attitudes towards yourself, others, and the world around you.

  • CBT is goal-directed.

  • CBT offers skills and strategies for overcoming common problems such as anxiety, depression, and more.

  • CBT addresses your past with a view to understanding how your personal history may be affecting your present-day beliefs and behaviours.

  • CBT focuses on how your problems are being perpetuated rather than searching for a singular reason or root cause.

  • CBT encourages you to try things out for yourself and practice new alternative ways of thinking and acting.

  • CBT highlights the prevention of relapse and personal development.

Dealing with negativity through cognitive behavioural therapy

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy has all sorts of tools for helping you help yourself. Simply thinking about this simple A-B-C structure can help you to understand and overcome your negative thinking and start to deal with it constructively:

  • A is for activating events, or triggers – situations past, present, or future that trigger off your thoughts and beliefs.

  • B stands for belief, representing your thoughts and beliefs and includes the meanings you attach to your trigger and how you think about yourself in relation to the trigger. B establishes how you ultimately feel and act in response to your trigger.

  • C is for the consequences of your behaviours and emotions. They are what you do and feel in response to your trigger (A) because of your thoughts and beliefs (B).

Where CBT can help you

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) has been proven to benefit several different psychological conditions. If you suffer from any of the following problems, CBT can help you deal with them and give you greater control over your emotions:

  • Generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) is a condition of feeling anxious at varying degrees almost all of the time. People with GAD often worry incessantly about the possibility of bad things happening to them or to their loved ones.

  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) can take a lot of different forms but it is characterised by unwelcome intrusive thoughts and a compulsion to carry out elaborate rituals in an effort to prevent feared events from happening.

  • Panic attacks often lead people to believe that they’re having a heart attack, about to pass out, or in some cases even to die because the physical sensations are so strong. Panic attacks may occur in specific situations or they can just seem to come out of the blue.

  • Phobias are specific fears of everyday things or situations. Phobias are called irrational fears because the degree of fear experienced is out of proportion to the actual threat involved. People can develop phobias of almost anything, but more common ones include agoraphobia, a phobia of crowded places and/or being away from familiar areas where you feel safe; claustrophobia, fear of being in a confined space; emetophobia, fear of vomiting; needle and injection phobia; animal phobias and fear of heights.

  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a state of anxiety resulting from a traumatic event that was either life-threatening or significantly threatened a person’s physical integrity. People can develop PTSD from witnessing an event that leads them to feel extreme fear and horror. Possible examples of traumatic events leading to PTSD may include traffic accidents, robberies, natural disasters, assault, and war.

Healthy alternatives to loathsome personal labels

You can transform how you feel by changing the way you think and talk about yourself. The following table splits between negative self-deprecating labels that you may say aloud or inwardly think of yourself, and constructive healthier affirmations that you can choose to say and feel instead. Switching your words this way can help you to see the positives about yourself and your life.

Loathsome Label Alternative Healthy Self-statement
I’m inadequate. I have skills and talents.
I’m worthless. I’m a worthwhile person.
I’m weak. I have both strengths and weaknesses.
I’m no good. I have many good qualities.
I’m a failure. I’m a fallible human being capable of both success and
I don’t matter. I have significance.
I’m defective. I may have certain deficits (like any person) but I’m not
I’m stupid. I can do stupid things sometimes but that doesn’t mean
I’m stupid.
I’m unlovable. People can love me and I am worthy of being loved.
I’m pathetic. I have several capabilities.
I’m useless. I do many useful things.
I’m a loser. I’m a normal person who can both win and lose.
I’m bad. I’m a person with both good and bad traits.
I’m disgusting. I’m acceptable.
I’m inferior. I have equal worth to others.
I’m crazy. Even if I sometimes do crazy things, I’m not totally

Setting goals for personal problem solving

It’s important to be clear in your mind about your problems so that you can target specific attainable goals in relation to them. Try this acronym below – SPORT stands for specific, positive, observable, realistic, and timed. Consider these five aspects when deciding your goals:

  • Specific: Be precise about when, where, and with whom you want to feel and/or behave more constructively.

  • Positive: State your goals in positive and pro-active terms. What do you what to achieve or work towards? What do you want to strive to gain in your personal life?

  • Observable: Consider how someone neutral could note that you’ve changed. What positive changes might you notice in your own thinking and actions?

  • Realistic: Make your goals clear, concrete, and within your grasp. Focus on goals that involve changing your personal reactions to life rather than on changing others or life events that you have very little power over.

  • Timed: Create a timeframe to help you keep your goals in sight. Think about setting yourself clear times to carry out tasks along the way. Keeping a task-list with spotlighted times of when to do each task can help you to actually get on with what you need to do.

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