A cognitive behavior therapist is of course going to use tools from the Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) tool kit, and the style of a cognitive behavioral therapist will be based on the assumptions of the CBT tool kit.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy is based on the idea that our thoughts cause our feelings and behaviors, not external things, like people, situations, and events. The benefit of this fact is that we can change the way we think to feel or act better even if the external situation does not change.
I believe it was a Stoic philosopher, Marcus Aurelius, who said it this way; "It is not the event that causes our feelings, it is our attitude about the event that causes our feelings."
So if I can change my attitude about the event, I can change my feelings.
A cognitive behavior therapist is then going to help clients uncover particular thoughts or patterns of thoughts which bring uncomfortable feelings, and those feelings can drive behaviors which generate unwelcome consequences.
A cognitive behavior therapist may help a client dispute what is called an irrational thought, or perhaps to discover evidence for and against a hot thought, and then form a balanced interpretation of the external situation which leaves the internal feeling situation more balanced.
Those "hot thoughts" may fall into a pattern, or may have certain language components, and include words like "should, ought, or must" and your cognitive behavior therapist will help you learn how to dispute either the pattern or the language, as the thought occurs.
A cognitive behavior therapist will be rather directive, and the duration of work will be short term.
A cognitive behavior therapist will not be interested in developing a Rogerian person centered style of relationship, although the relationship will certainly be cordial.
I think a good model for a cognitive behavioral therapist to sell is the emerging brain fitness model, because it can be helpful to a client to see their work as part of what they need to do to grow new brain cells.
The pillars of brain fitness are physical exercise, nutrition including antioxidants and omega 3 fatty acid, good sleep, stress management, and novel learning experiences.
Automatic negative thoughts and negative patterns of thinking, like "all or nothing thinking", can flood the body with stress hormones in the 1/18th second we talked about earlier, and a bath of unnecessary stress hormones makes neurogenesis or the growth of new brain cells very difficult.
I think everyone will agree with the sentiment of Dr. Daniel Amen that when it comes to the brain, bigger is better, so a cognitive behavior therapist could indicate to his client that attending to the pillars of brain fitness can be very beneficial to every area of his life, since the brain is involved in everything we do.
As a user of cognitive behavioral tools in my anger management groups and brain fitness groups, I like to have my clients use tools like the Mind Sparke Brain Fitness Pro, Brain Builder and Heartmath heart rate variability biofeedback tool to get a feel for significantly they can manage attention, memory, the time between heart beats, and even IQ.
When clients see themselves developing an expertise in those areas, they can then more confidently tackle cognitions with their cognitive behavioral therapist.
Want more information about the Mind Sparke tool or the Heartmath tool? Please click on the link in the sidebar.
Very early in my personal growth experience, a wise person taught me to use the phrase "gratitude is the attitude" when I was resentful or afraid and that phrase has helped me feel better tens of thousands of times.
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