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Use Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to Challenge Distressing Thoughts

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Finding time to take care of yourself can be a challenge, but it’s vitally important if you want to be able to keep up with the daily demands of life. Psychologists can provide the support and guidance you need in order to thrive both now and in the future.

One of the tools psychologists in Calgary use to help clients overcome unwanted, distressing or difficult thoughts and their associated emotions is called Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or CBT. This therapeutic approach is supported by decades of research that demonstrate its ability to help you understand your thoughts and change your reactions to them.

By engaging in CBT, you and your psychologist work together to identify specific unwanted or challenging thoughts, and then develop strategies to manage them effectively.

The Steps To Successfully Utilizing Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Understand Cognitive Distortions

Psychologists use CBT to identify what are called cognitive distortions that impact your thoughts, attitudes and beliefs. These can be the things that cause unwanted, difficult or challenging thoughts that you react to emotionally.

One example of a cognitive distortion is all or nothing thinking, where you believe that there is no middle ground in a situation. You’re committed to one way of doing an activity and are unwilling to see things from another perspective or refuse to find a solution that is ‘good enough’.

Overgeneralizing is another form of cognitive distortion that a psychologist in Calgary can help you identify and challenge. This type of thinking sees you take a bad or negative experience and apply it to all other parts of your life. 

An example could be that you’re having problems getting to work on time, and after your manager comments on your punctuality, you apply this generalization to other parts of your life. 

You may think that if you can’t get your act together to get to work, that this means you can’t be on time for other things in your life. This line of thinking causes you more stress as you approach big events, effectively self-sabotaging any efforts to make it on time.

Catastrophizing is another common cognitive distortion where you automatically assume the worst is going to happen. This line of thinking may see you assume that because your car didn’t start in the morning, you’re going to end up getting fired from your job because you were late, and that you’ll lose your house because you can’t pay the bills.

You jump from one worst case scenario to another, and get stuck in unhelpful ‘what-if’ thinking that can cause increased stress, anxiety and depression.

Learn to Challenge Your Thoughts

When you work with a psychologist to identify your cognitive distortions you can develop an action oriented plan to overcome them.

Depending on the therapist you see and their therapeutic approach, this may include skill building in mindfulness practices where you learn to separate yourself from your thoughts. What this means is that thoughts are recognized as being just thoughts, not a reflection of who you are. This also can help to reduce the need you have to respond to them emotionally.

A psychologist in Calgary can help you to see your thoughts as ideas, as opposed to facts that are to be taken at face value. 

For example, if you constantly think that your colleagues are talking about you behind your back, and this leaves you feeling isolated and anxious at work causing social problems. You can learn to change these thoughts and replace them with helpful thinking patterns.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy can provide you with healthier coping mechanisms that give you a sense of control over your actions and behaviors.

Apply CBT Skills To Your Life

By learning to manage your unwanted, challenging and distressing thoughts you can significantly decrease your overall feelings of stress, anxiety and overwhelm. This can help prevent poor mental health, and promote general feelings of increased well being and life satisfaction.

It’s important to remember that the skills you learn in therapy with a psychologist are transferable to all parts of your life, not just one specific problem. Healthy coping mechanisms can not only be used in your daily life, but also during times of crisis and increased stress.

CBT can be used to successfully treat generalized anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and depression. It can also assist with smoking cessation, substance use disorders, eating disorders and other mood disorders.

The goal of working with a psychologist in Calgary is to provide you with the tools and skills that will lead you to feeling empowered, no matter what challenges you’re facing. By taking the time to look after your own mental health, you’re better prepared to lead a happy, healthy productive life and look after those you love the most.

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