Do you or someone you love have a fear of something—dogs, elevators, flying, MRI machines—that makes them change their behavior to avoid it? How about a habit that you really want to change, but just can’t seem to? Does anxiety keep you up at night? Then CBT may be for you.
CBT stands for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. It is a special form of counseling that focuses on taking ACTION to change what you want to change in your life. It usually takes anywhere from 6-20 sessions with a trained provider to change what you want changed. Sound interesting? Let’s break it down:
Cognitive: The first step in CBT is learning to recognize that thoughts and feelings are connected, and then learn to connect how they can trigger one another. For example, you have a fear of dogs and you see one out on your evening walk. You get a feeling of panic and before you know it, perhaps without even realizing it, think, “That dog is going to chase me and bite me.” So instead of continuing on your walk, you turn around, or take a different path. How are those thoughts and feelings connected? In CBT you will learn to put the pieces of the puzzle together.
The second step is to learn to mentally take a step back and to ask whether your thoughts and feelings make sense in the situation. From the example above, perhaps the dog is actually a tiny little, friendly dog on a leash and poses no threat. Learning to take the moment away from panic to figure out if a fear makes sense is part of CBT.
Behavioral: Once you learn to figure out how your thoughts and feelings are connected, it’s time to learn ways to change how you react. That’s the almost-magical part of CBT—you can learn to change the behaviors you don’t want, that don’t serve you in your life!
Therapy: In CBT, there is no judgment about your fears or habits. Cognitive behavioral therapy practitioners believe that each person is the expert on themselves, and that everybody has the ability to change what they want to change. A Practitioner is a guide, helping to develop a program that is unique to you, and guiding you along your path to change.
Keady Family Practice believes that CBT can be a powerful tool in helping people to live healthier, happier lives. We will be offering CBT as a service to our patients later this year. And yes, insurance covers it.
This article was prepared by Tracy Duncan, FNP, AANC. Tracy practices out of the Charlestown and Newport offices of Keady Family Practice and is currently taking new patients.