Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is one of the most evidence-based forms of counseling that exists. It is extremely effective at treating many conditions, such as anxiety, depression, and substance use. How is CBT used and does it integrate well with other forms of counseling?
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
CBT is centered around cognitions, primarily in the form of belief systems. Long-held and entrenched belief systems continue to affect the individual in their daily life, which leads to emotional and behavioral issues. These issues cause difficulty in the individual's ability to have healthy relationships, work, or be happy. Cognitive distortions are at the root of most negative emotional experiences like depression, anxiety, and anger. In fact, anger management is primarily founded in CBT. It is only through challenging the negative belief systems that the individual can take control of their emotions. In order to accomplish this, the individual will need to gain awareness and begin to listen to the way that they talk to themselves. This will allow for the identification of faulty belief systems. This may be difficult at first, but is made easier by counseling, but how is this achieved? Perhaps the most useful way of accomplishing this is the ABC model. This is arguably one of the most useful coping skills. This allows the blame for emotions to be shifted away from an event or an individual and toward a belief system. If this belief system can be altered and made to be more realistic, the resultant emotions should change as well. Skills such as this will take practice, and it will be useful to keep track of negative experiences in a log for practice in session with a counselor.
These negative belief systems and cognitive distortions do not just affect individuals that use substances. Everyone is susceptible to issues such as this, but those who abuse substance frequently look for excuses and this is an extremely easy way to blame emotions on people or institutions. Only by taking responsibility for these emotions can individuals take responsibility and stop using substances to cope with these negative belief systems.
Integrating Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
CBT integrates quite nicely with many other approaches. Perhaps one of the best fits is with motivational interviewing (MI). MI helps the client make change by eliciting change talk. This empowering approach allows the counselor to roll with the resistance of the individual's belief system, rather than challenging in a more directive and confrontational style, and help the client begin to talk about changing their belief system to have a happier life. In this way, the individual can come to their own conclusion about what belief systems are working and which are not. This will have a more lasting impact than the counselor informing the individual of their faulty belief systems. Existential therapy (ET) is another approach that integrates wonderfully with CBT. ET has the counselor join the client on a philosophical journey, exploring life's greatest problems, such as fear of dying, being alone, or having no sense of purpose. Cognitive distortions that are at the root of these existential crises can be explored and disputed, solving some very big issues in a simple and formulaic manner.
While we love CBT and support its use, we do not believe this is the only effective approach to counseling. We are happy to explain CBT further or explore other approaches with you. Our goal is to provide a uniquely tailored and customized approach to counseling. If you'd like to schedule a consultation to create a treatment approach tailored to your needs, head on over to our Get Started page!