Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Cognitive Behavioral therapy (CBT) is actually a series of different approaches to depression therapy. CBT methods incorporate cognitive restructuring and behavioral modification.
As a treatment for depression, CBT makes the assumption that a individual’s mood results directly from their thoughts and associated behaviors. Additionally, CBT presumes that those patterns can be consciously changed through therapy.
CBT focuses on exploring relationships among a person’s thoughts, feelings and behaviors. During CBT a therapist will actively work with a person to uncover unhealthy patterns of thought and how they may be causing self-destructive behaviors and beliefs. By addressing these patterns, the person and therapist can work together to develop constructive ways of thinking that will produce healthier behaviors and beliefs.
The philosophy driving CBT is that negative thinking is responsible for depression because it creates a negative mood. Through CBT, negative patterns and behaviors are changed, and it is expected that then the symptoms of depression will be alleviated.
The beliefs surrounding CBT incorporated two primary tasks:
- Cognitive restructuring to change thinking patterns. This is done in therapy by identifying negative thoughts, blocking them and replacing them with positive thoughts.
- Behavioral activation which instructs the individual on how to manage obstacles that prevent them from being happy.
CBT and Depression Therapy
CBT is different from therapies like psychoanalysis which focus on the past. In contrast, CBT looks at only the present and how to change it. CBT is generally more goal oriented as well. Therapists and clients typically set up a treatment plan with a goal, but CBT continues to reassess during treatment.
How CBT Depression Therapists Work
CBT therapists tend to be more instructive and structure the session as a learning experience. The therapist typically asks the client to write down their negative feelings, behaviors and perceptions. The goal is to find a pattern that both the therapist and client can see so they can then develop a plan to change it. Once that happens, the therapist teaches the client to think differently. The therapist then guides the client with the new coping skills and activities resulting in a positive thought and feelings.
CBT Therapy for Depression
Research supports that CBT therapy can assist the depressed individual in several ways. Therapy in and of itself can ease the pain of depression and alleviate the feelings of hopelessness that typically accompany depression. CBT is effective at changing the pessimistic thoughts, which in turn can help to adjust unrealistic expectations and overly critical self-evaluations.
CBT assists people with depression to recognize which of life’s problems need immediate attention and which do not. In this manner, it can free the person up to begin to address their life goals and increase self-esteem. In this manner, CBT is a great problem solving strategy and stress management system. By developing better coping skills, the client becomes better equipped at solving problems.