Cognitive behavioral therapy has a lot of research behind it. Because of this very large call for cognitive behavioral therapists to work from government administered health services. This article will briefly cover the cognitive behavioral therapy model so the reader can apply it to any life situation of their choosing.
It may be useful to have a pen and paper to hand. At the top of the piece of paper you can draw a box. You can label the box life situation, problem or challenge.
In the cognitive behavioral therapy model they are basically four modalities which need to be explored in order to find solutions. In this way it is a holistic therapy because it attempts looks at the person as a whole being rather than as having a problem that needs to be fixed.
Drawing a line down from the challenge box, you can draw the thinking box. Thinking box refers to what you are thinking – your thoughts surrounding the situation you are working on. If it is a habit for example that you want to change, you look at what you are thinking during acting out on that habit and around it. You may find that beliefs come up here.
Thinking is aspect one in cognitive behavioural therapy. Some personal development speakers say that “change your thinking and you change your life.” The Buddha said “all that we are arises from our thoughts”. The better doctors today recognise that 80% of illness is psychosomatic and arises in the mind as our thoughts. Our thoughts are intimately linked with the other parts of the model.
Behaviors. Behavior is the “doing” aspect of the model. What do you do? What are your actions? What specific behavior are you examining? Our thoughts effect our behavior and our behavior can effect our thoughts, so an interlinking line can be drawn connecting the two. Behavior is how you act as either a result of your thoughts,feelings and physiology or as a way to influence those other parts of the model.
The third “box” on the cognitive behavioural therapy model is the “emotions/feelings” box. How you feel again is connected to your thoughts if you are having thoughts that are negative, eg “I can’t do it” the belief or “why me Lord?” or “why am I so useless” you are more likely to feel bad. Whereas if you are feeling terrific, your thoughts correspond normally. Apathy, grief, anger, pride, courage, lust, peace, love harmony, serenity all can be classified as feelings/emotion states and can be commented on in this box.
Emotions are also connected to behaviors. Think about if you do some physical exercise. Maybe you will feel annoyed at not being fit enough. Or maybe you will feel confident about how fit you are. More than likely if you do extend yourself a little, you will feel relaxed and happy after your body releases some endorphins. This is borderline belonging in the next category though.
Physiology. Physiology refers to the state of the body. The biochemistry at the smaller level and physical sensation and the macro-universe of the body at larger levels. We’ve already mentioned endorphins. Aches and pains may be manifest if we have an injury or chronic illness for example. Can you imagine how your physiology effects your thoughts and feelings and your behaviors. Of course they are all interrelated.
If a person has broken a bone in their body, their behavior will be different, correct? They will likely not be so able for a while. Without support, they might feel low about it (feelings) perhaps because they are having thoughts like “this is never going to get better.” At the same time their physiology will adapt to the lowered exercise of those muscles and may require physiotherapy to help their physiology. Can you think of more ways the four aspects of the model might be effected.
The “magic” of CBT is that therapists recognise that by changing any of the four areas after examining what is actually going on, the outcome of the situation can be changed rapidly. The most common area to focus on changing is the behavior. It is easier for us to change what we do. However, it is possible to change our thoughts, too to develop positive self talk for example, think more positively, to change our diet (physiology and behavior), and to focus on things that make us feel good by visualization for example.
With the above description, it is hoped you can draw up a CBT chart and apply CBT to something that you want to change in your own life. This is not about theorizing although the model is a theory of human behavior, it is widely accepted now and you can draw parallels to other forms of newer (and more powerful forms of) therapeutic technique, such as NLP, Sedona Method etc. So apply this information, don’t just let it go to your head.
The idea in this authors understanding is to move away from the quick-fix medical solution to ills and to focus more on a holistic approach to healing which incorpates empowering the person to be responsible and change the causes rather than treating effects with effects (drugs) and disempowering through taking away responsibility (eg through traditional psychiatry) although such forms of therapeutic process do have their place.