CBT or Cognitive behavioral therapy, is a therapeutic approach that is employed to restore balance to emotions, perceptions and behavior patterns. The goal is to help realign the overall function and worldview of the patient in order to produce a positive change in approach and attitude. There are several ways in which cognitive behavioral therapy is used to assist people with issues ranging from different types of mental illnesses to an inability to get a good night’s sleep.
For many people, the use of cognitive therapy has been the key to effectively dealing with and overcoming various kinds of anxiety disorders. Conditions such as General Anxiety Disorder, Seasonal Anxiety Disorder and Panic Disorder make it difficult for individuals to engage in normal activities without having to deal with an enormous amount of discomfort. It is not unusual for an individual suffering from these types of disorders to experience anxiety or panic attacks, and begin to avoid locations where the attacks take place. As a result, the individual may become develop agoraphobia and possibly become housebound.
Cognitive behavioral therapy can help an individual suffering with anxiety disorders to avoid the trap of becoming afraid to go places and do things he or she normally enjoys. This is often accomplished by gradually exposing the patient to the stimulus that triggers the attack, allowing the patient to perceive that the experience was not as difficult as anticipated. Over time, the patient is exposed to longer periods of stimulus, gradually altering the perception and the learned behavior to the point that the individual is able to function without fear of experiencing a panic attack.
In like manner, cognitive behavioral therapy can be effective with some forms of depression. As with anxiety, the strategy is to alter the current pattern of apathy and unhappiness by incrementally helping the patient to re-engage the surrounding world. As the individual is able to sense the return of pleasure in things he or she used to enjoy, it becomes easier to face the underlying causes of the depression, deal with them, and recover emotional balance.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, or OCD, can also be treated with cognitive therapy. With this application, CBT again uses an incremental approach to slowly help the individual by altering the way he or she relates to specific events or tasks. The goal in this application is to allow the individual to gradually become less concerned with the action or circumstance that leads to the compulsive behavior.
Even someone suffering with insomnia can find healing as a result of cognitive behavioral therapy. CBT can help realign the individual’s thought patterns so that the fear of not being able to sleep is minimized, allowing the patient to relax with greater ease. As the treatments continue, the individual experiences a change in mind set that allows him or her to embrace the idea of sleep with anticipation and confidence, rather than fear and foreboding.
Cognitive behavioral therapy is not a quick solution. In many cases, the therapy will take anywhere from several weeks to a few years to bring about a cure. However, CBT can be used in conjunction with other therapies, including the use of drugs or herbs to help deal with the symptoms of the particular health condition. While it is possible to utilize CBT alone, it is generally recommended to begin the therapy with the help of a mental health professional.