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Table of Contents

Behavioral Techniques to Combat Negative Feelings and Thoughts From Adverse Events
Changing the Internal Dialogue

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or CBT, is a psychological treatment created by American psychiatrist, Aaron Beck, that takes a scientific approach to changing behavior through a therapeutic process. Each component of this type of effective therapy has been tested in clinical trials and developed through scientific research.

It has been scientifically proven to be effective in helping people to change their behavior and overcome a variety of mental health issues. These may include dealing with symptoms of depression and the underlying emotions entangled with them, negative thought patterns, and addictions.

Behavioral Techniques to Combat Negative Feelings and Thoughts From Adverse Events

The cognitive triangle, shown in this worksheet by the University of Washington, illustrates the direct connection between how we think, what we feel, and how we behave. Each of these influences the other. In every situation, you will have thoughts, whether conscious or subconscious, which will give you feelings or strong emotions that will result in a certain behavior. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy focuses on learning how to change your thoughts (or cognitions), and your actions (or behaviors). The situation itself will not change, but if you change your thoughts, your feelings and actions will follow suit. If you change one, it will automatically affect the other two. Being aware of this connection allows us to break bad habits by way of a self-imposed behavioral intervention, like turning off our ‘auto-pilot mode’, so that we won’t be pulled by our difficult feelings, and therefore reacting to our thoughts with negative behaviors. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy gives you the proper treatment plan for you to be able to navigate every situation so that you are in control of yourself; so that you are able to take control of how you will respond to each situation and really take hold of your mental health.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is essentially learning new skills to manage symptoms. It teaches you new ways of thinking that will put you in better control of your behavior. This type of therapy has five main premises.

  1. CBT focuses on the present. This approach asserts that knowing why you have a problem is not enough to help manage the problem. Instead, it advocates for you to deal with the symptoms that you are struggling with right now rather than focusing on the cause of the problem.
  2. CBT emphasizes the importance of homework. Using your techniques at home is an essential part of this kind of cognitive therapy. Unless you practice the strategies that you learn in therapy regularly, you will not be able to use them when you actually need them. You need to practice the skills and apply them to daily life so that they become your normal reaction. It is essentially the process of developing a new habit so that these skills become a part of your routine.
  3. CBT is collaborative. This is a very active form of cognitive therapy. It will require working closely with your therapist to learn and understand new ways of managing your problems. If you don’t put your best effort into managing your symptoms, you will not see the optimal results. If you are not prepared to put in the effort, this isn’t the best type of therapy for you.
  4. CBT is structured and educational. Each therapy session will help you learn new ways of thinking. You will then be instructed to practice them daily. During the next session, you will repeat the cycle in order to add more new skills on top of the ones you’ve mastered.
  5. CBT is time limited. This type of cognitive therapy is not designed to be a lifelong process. Once you’ve learned coping skills and begun to master them in your life, it will be time to leave therapy and continue managing your symptoms on your own (or with the help of a different type of therapist).

There is also a type of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy that is designed to specifically help with the therapeutical process and treatment of trauma. It is caused Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or TF-CBT. This type of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy utilizes the same CBT triangle, or in this case TF-CBT Triangle, that we discussed before to provide treatment for adolescents and traumatized children. Mental health professionals are there to aid in the effective treatment of any symptoms of depression or anxiety symptoms that may have manifested themselves in these children as a result of the adverse events that have sadly affected their lives. Mental health care is incredibly important to have in these children’s lives, and TF-Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is an ideal form of therapy to stop the negative pattern of depressive symptoms and thoughts that can arise from having been in traumatic events and help bring back more positive feelings.

Changing the Internal Dialogue

CBT helps you to understand how the human brain works. In Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, we are mainly dealing with automatic thoughts, especially those that occur in negative thought patterns. Automatic thoughts are those that come from our unconscious mind as words, images, and ideas. These are thoughts that come to our minds that are beyond our control. We cannot change them, but we have to learn to manage them after they come. Self-talk is what we do with those automatic thoughts that come into our minds. We can either engage the thought or alter the thought. Talking through each of our conscious thoughts is a therapeutic process that helps reduce anxiety and gives us important influence over managing our difficult feelings and thoughts, thereby influencing our behaviors. Behaviors are the action part of the cognitive triangle. This is where we are really able to change how we feel. In order to change a behavior, for example, overcoming an addiction, we need to stop the negative thoughts associated with the behavior. Similar to a lot of other forms of effective treatment in mental health care, it takes time and practice before the change can happen, but it is proven possible. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy enables this change using a combination of cognitive therapy and behavioral strategies.

Related: Matrix Method and Addiction

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