Introduction to CBT

If you’re looking for a way to stay calm in a tense situation or a way to be focussed when all you want to do is relax – then CBT is something you should definitely consider. CBT stands for ‘Cognitive Behavioral Therapy’. Essentially, it is a set of tools used as a therapeutic tool when treating anxiety disorders. This also happens to be the preferred method of therapy among most health institutions today.

The best bit? As well as being highly effective and proven in countless studies, CBT is also very simple to teach and use. Here we will take a look at what CBT entails, why it’s so powerful and why it’s very much worth learning.

How CBT Works

CBT is essentially the natural evolution from behaviorism. Behaviorism is a school of psychology that views all of our behaviors and beliefs as trained. We repeat behaviors that create an outcome we are looking for. Behaviors that have been rewarded become reinforced and we perform them more often. Behaviors that have been punished or ignored become less common.

Diagram of cognitive-behavioral therapy

CBT takes this principle and adds an additional cognitive element – showing that we can actually reinforce a behaviour through the way we think. If we have anxious thoughts about an action for instance, then we can find ourselves actually enforcing that association to the point of even developing a phobia. We don’t actually have to experience anything bad – our belief and predictions alone are enough to create the association!

The same can also work in reverse. For example, first, logically break down your fears. Then, explain to yourself why you shouldn’t be afraid of them. Eventually, you can completely remove those phobias.

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CBT Example

So how might this work?

A good example is a social phobia, which can be created through the maladaptive belief that you’re going to embarrass yourself, that you’re going to faint or that perhaps you’re in some kind of danger. It is your job then to remove this association through CBT using techniques such as ‘thought challenge’. Thought challenging involves assessing just how realistic a fear is in a logical way and often you’ll be able to disprove your own fears to yourself.

You can then formulate these new thoughts as positive affirmations and actually talk yourself up before big events. Eventually, this can be enough to complete remove the phobia or anxiety – and it’s something that anyone can practice alone at home!