Cognitive behavioral therapy is like Marie Kondo for your brain. CBT can help you to clear out old mental clutter, learn new, healthy approaches, and find greater serenity.
You are super critical of yourself and frequently engage in self-blame.
At the same time, when you do something good, you chalk it up to “luck.” It’s so hard to feel self-confident when you never feel like you’re good enough.
Maybe, you have been called “Type A” or “perfectionist” before. Or, you may be your boss’ dream employee: hard-working, driven, and relentless in your pursuit of excellence. Those are wonderful qualities, but like all things, there are downsides to being this way. You may also be relentless in your assessment of yourself. Nothing you do, no matter how much praise or how many accolades you get, makes you feel good about yourself. You always think you can be better or do better. Furthermore, your perfectionist tendencies don’t stop when you leave work. In fact, they interfere with your family life and friendships too.
Unfortunately, your drive for excellence can make you an easy target. Maybe you have been manipulated or taken advantage of by others. You get assigned extra work because you are “so good at it,” or you “make it look easy.” And, you want to be a “good daughter” or a “team player,” So, you keep pushing onward, doing more and more and often feeling worse about yourself. You may have guessed that you are being taken advantage of. And you might feel resentful. But, that doesn’t last long because you talk yourself out of it. You might say things like “maybe I am being too sensitive,” “if I were more organized, I could do all of this better,” or “I just need to try harder.”
You’re tired of thinking poorly about yourself. It’s time for a change.
These kinds of negative and blaming thoughts can turn into shame, which takes a real toll on your mental and physical health. You may have more than your share of tension headaches or migraines, shoulder and neck pain, trouble concentrating, problems sleeping, or other physical ailments. Over time, these kinds of aches and pains can impact your quality of life in a very real and negative way.
Also, what we know about this kind of self-blame is that it is usually rooted in faulty thinking, which is caused by old patterns of behavior. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) can uncover the untruths you have learned. The thoughts that have unknowingly become your guiding principles. Together, we can work on clearing out these old and outdated beliefs. Then, we can replace them with healthier, more productive, and more accurate thoughts, which will guide you into the future in a positive way.
Also known as Cognitive Therapy or CBT, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy operates on the idea that how we think about an event shapes how we feel about ourselves. For example, one person may be laid off and think, “I’m a failure at everything I do so no wonder the company let me go.” Or, another person may react to the same set of circumstances and think, “Good riddance. Now I can collect unemployment until I find a place where I enjoy working.” Although the event is the same, these two people had very different thoughts and emotional responses.
Cognitive therapists work with their clients to uncover unhelpful ways of looking at themselves and the world. Then, they work to modify thoughts that are not true or unproductive. This allows them to get their client results and relief as quickly as possible.
Why should you choose CBT?
You’re busy with a zillion things to do. Every week there are things on your to-do list that get rolled over to next week’s list. It’s hard to find an hour to spare for a counseling session. But, you’re not happy. You can sense that something has to give, and if you don’t start practicing self-care, the thing that gives may be you or your health. Maybe, your partner has pointed out that you are on edge or you have caught yourself snapping a few times at things that you could ordinarily brush off.
CBT is a great way to address these issues. It is efficient and effective. It’s not as quick as a prescription, but it doesn’t have any potential side effects, either. CBT helps us to identify old thinking patterns that hold us back from being happy.
This form of counseling is solutions-focused and committed to results.
What you expect from a Cognitive Behavioral Therapy session
In many ways, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy resembles other forms of counseling. It relies on a mutually respectful, positive relationship between counselor and client. This allows clients to share feelings and life issues that are problematic for them. Ultimately, the goal is to provide the client with support, insight, and relief. What may differ is the structured nature of sessions, the exploration of how a client is thinking and interpreting events, and the emphasis on “homework.” Every counselor, whether a CBT counselor or not, operates a little differently. So, your sessions will be a collaboration. It will be the result of what you and your counselor bring to the table each time you meet for counseling.
CBT “homework” after your counseling session
Before you flinch at the word “homework” like most people do (most adults have ZERO time for a writing assignment or busy work), let us explain. As your counselors, we are invested in you feeling better as quickly and efficiently as possible. We also want to make sure that the tools and strategies that we talk about in your counseling sessions are ones that fit your unique needs and that you can use them in your real life. Things can sound all well and good in our sessions, but if they don’t work into your life, we need to move on to things that will.
“Homework” is just a way of saying that we will suggest things for you to do outside of counseling. In our experience, the more clients are able to practice their new skills, the better. At the same time, counseling is not a shaming atmosphere. If you do not practice skills between sessions, you don’t get a bad grade or fail counseling. Your counselor wants the best for you, but you get to decide the pace of the work and the change.
CBT can help you find relief from the things that are upsetting you.
After working with us using CBT, our clients report seeing old dynamics in a new way. They can implement new boundaries about their time and energy, learn to defuse the power of shame-and-blame thoughts, and feel lighter and better. If this sounds like the kind of relief you want for yourself, please reach out to our counseling clinic. We would be delighted to work with you to help you find happiness.
In some cases, particularly when trauma is involved, your counselor may suggest that you do a combination of CBT and EMDR. This recommendation would come from your therapist, based on your feedback and experience if they think EMDR could be a helpful tool for increasing your well-being. They will explain their reasoning. And, as always, you are the person in control and can decide whether or not to pursue the recommendation. Want to learn more about how EMDR can supplement CBT? Read more about the connection between CBT and EMDR here.
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If you are ready to learn tools to help you heal and lead a healthy and fulfilling life, then our therapists can help! We provide Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) to people in the Washington DC area.