Mental Health Conditions Targeted by Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Anxiety
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy helps treat anxiety by working to combat the distorted patterns of thinking that are associated with anxiety symptoms. For people suffering with anxiety disorders, negative thoughts such as generalized worry, specific phobias, or crippling indecision fuel the emotions of anxiety and fear. The goal of CBT is to give patients the tools to identify and modify these thoughts and beliefs.
Depression
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy helps to address negative, irrational thoughts that accompany depressive episodes. This may include thoughts of low self-worth, hopelessness, helplessness, ruminations on perceived failures or shortcomings, and thoughts that life is not worth living. CBT teaches patients to identify these negative thoughts and replace them with healthier and more realistic ones. This creates a collaborative healing environment where the patient is an active participant.
OCD
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy helps OCD by gradually exposing the person suffering with OCD to the thoughts and situations that trigger obsessions and compulsions. As time progresses, the patient learns to respond to these triggers differently. As a result, CBT ultimately leads to a decrease in the intensity of obsessive thoughts and frequency of compulsive behaviors.
PTSD
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy helps PTSD by encouraging those suffering to re-evaluate their thinking patterns and develop more emotionally neutral associations to the triggering trauma. When using CBT for PTSD, patients are exposed to reminders of the trauma in a controlled manner. In doing so, the trauma is confronted head on, which in turn facilitates the ability to cope with, rather than avoid it.
patient receiving cognitive behavioral therapy

How Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Works

During a typical CBT session, the overall goal is to teach and practice tools that help patients to identify and then challenge links among their thoughts,feelings, and behaviors. As an active therapy, these lessons are then reinforced by completing “homework” between sessions. A treatment session for CBT typically occurs once a week or once every two weeks, with a typical course of 5 to 20 sessions. Each session is conducted over 30 to 60 minutes. They may be “face to face” with a therapist or can be done online through a digitial platform. Because CBT helps to reframe the negative core beliefs that support the persistence of anxious and depressive thinking, successful treatment can have very long-lasting results. The tools learned can be revisited life-long if refreshers are needed. A key difference of CBT compared to other forms of therapy is that it focuses on the here and now.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Techniques

A primary technique used in CBT is Cognitive Restructuring. Cognitive Restructuring works by helping people identify when their mood has changed, then noticing the thoughts that preceded that change. They can then learn to identify characteristic styles of automatic negative thinking that points to opportunities to challenge those thoughts. Through this process, a more balanced view of the thoughts develops which reduces the negative feelings. Over time, patterns emerge that help to identify the negative core beliefs that support the automatic negative thoughts which then reduces their power and facilitates lasting change.

Another common CBT technique is Activity Scheduling. Activity Scheduling focuses on encouraging the planning of healthy behaviors such as exercise or meditation. When one intentionally schedules an activity, it increases the likelihood it will actually get done. While this may sound simple, without structure this can be quite difficult for those suffering from mood or anxiety disorders. This technique has proven to be especially helpful with those suffering from depression, as they often have extreme difficulty with starting or completing tasks.

Contrary to some ideas of what happens in therapy, CBT involves more than just talking or even “venting” with the therapist. It is an active style of therapy that works towards lasting change of negative attitudes and behaviors through the practice of concrete tools and techniques.

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Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Insurance Coverage

CBT is considered a first-line of defense when it comes to anxiety and depression. Because of this, a certain number of therapy sessions are covered annually by most insurance plans. Actify is proud to offer a comprehensive digital CBT platform that we encourage our patients to use to enhance the benefits and durability of our other treatment options.

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