When most people think of therapy, they think of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, or CBT. In CBT, therapists help patients identify thoughts, behaviors, and situations that affect their mood in positive and negative ways.
There are many ways that thoughts and behaviors impact individuals. Many people report engaging in very specific thinking patterns, such as forecasting (i.e. "I know that I will not do well on that test"), all-or-nothing thinking (i.e. "if I don’t get that job, I am a failure"), or personalizing (i.e. "they are laughing, and I just know they are laughing at me"). One Cognitive Behavioral Therapy strategy is cognitive reframing, in which patients are encouraged to identify thought patterns and challenge their assumptions in order to come to different conclusions. We find that by challenging these types of thinking and teaching new strategies, patients are able to change their reactions without anything external actually changing.
In addition to identifying harmful thought patterns, we also work on identifying stressors that contribute to a patient’s current mood, such as unhealthy relationships, job stresses, and family dynamics. Sometimes we work with patients to set boundaries and make changes in their situations, and sometimes we work with them to accept the parts of their situations that cannot be changed. We also help determine the harmful behavioral patterns (i.e. poor communication or self-destructive tendencies) that impact them. When clear behavioral patterns are determined to be the cause of distress, we work with patients to identify and change these habits, address issues of motivation, and set goals for making the desired changes, all the while providing support and guidance throughout the process.