“Mind over matter” is a simplistic adage, suggesting that any problem can be overcome with sheer willpower. Anyone who has struggled with depression, anxiety, eating disorders, addiction, or any other mental health condition will attest that the concept sets you up for frustration. Willpower is rarely enough when the negative thoughts, feelings, and behavior emerge from the mind itself.
Yet there is a psychotherapy method that embraces the potential of mindful self-regulation, if given ample time, coping tools, and thoughtful techniques. It’s called cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), and thousands of clinical trials have proven its effectiveness.
The Power Of Thought
CBT is a relatively young method of psychotherapy, developed in the 1960s by Dr. Aaron Beck. During psychoanalysis sessions he realized that patients had an internal dialogue far more extensive than their dialogue with him. Identifying those unspoken thoughts and the feelings that arise because of them became the key to drilling down to the patient’s true difficulties.
Since negative thoughts can birth negative emotions, and bad feelings can lead to bad behavior, learning to identify, understand, and modify those negative thoughts can have a powerful effect on how you act and feel.
More Than Talk Therapy
CBT sessions can be one-on-one or in groups, and they are quite structured. The first few sessions focus around tackling a particular problem, whether it be anxiety in the workplace, anger management, mood swings, etc. In consultation with the patient, the therapist will design sessions around these goals and assign homework such as keeping a diary to identify when the trouble arises. Each session will discuss results and move forward in the hopes of drilling deeper to the root issues.
In CBT, a therapist is more of a partner than a professor. By putting the potential in your hands, CBT can help with coping skills, problem-solving skills, and shed light on persistent negative thoughts, behaviors, and beliefs that have prevented you from embracing your humanity.
There Are No Miracle Cures
Cognitive behavioral therapy is only one method of addressing a wide variety of conditions. It is often used in conjunction with medication as part of a holistic, overall approach to mental health treatment. If you have any questions as to whether this form of psychotherapy can help you manage the challenges you are facing, don’t hesitate to get in touch with a trusted mental health professional.