Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is as traditional as you can get. CBT is a general term that describes lots of different techniques. It is evidence-based. Meaning there’s been lots of research to show that it helps people.

So it’s one of the most recommended types of therapy. The APA recommends CBT for treatment for PTSD.

CBT has a few core ideas about what clients need to do to improve their mental health. They need to improve how they think about things. Improve their behavior patterns. And learn better ways to respond when bad or stressful things happen.

Cognitive Therapy

This is a particular type of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy developed by Aaron T. Beck. Some of you might have taken the Beck Depression Inventory or the Beck Anxiety inventory. These assess particular thoughts, behaviors, and feelings in order to identify whether you are depressed or anxious. And how anxious or depressed you are.

Cognitive therapy is based on the idea that our thoughts, behaviors, and feelings all affect each other. So if you can change one, it will likely change the others.

How I use CBT and Cognitive Therapy as a therapist for low self-esteem, anxiety, depression, and social anxiety in Denver, CO

I’ll ask about the things that you think about. We’ll look at whether the things you think are true.

My favorite CBT technique is to look for proof that you are wrong. For example, “I’m stupid.” Then we’ll talk about all of the smart things you did that day. Or look at why you did the thing you did. I find that people often had very good reasons for doing what they did. They just may not know the reason at first. Or they think it’s a bad reason when looking back.

Another favorite CBT technique is to decide what you’d rather tell yourself. I’m all about affirmations. But they can’t be so positive that your brain calls bullshit on them. They need to be closer to what you currently believe. But still better than what you’re telling yourself now. For example, “I do stupid things sometimes, but it’s ok.”

I’ll ask about your feelings. I’ll probably point out that you only tell yourself that you’re stupid when you’re already depressed. I might ask about what you would tell yourself if you were feeling good right now.

We’ll talk about what things you do that cause you to tell yourself that you’re stupid. And if there’s a better way to do them. We might talk about what you can do to help improve your mood on shitty days.

Many of my clients complain that they shouldn’t react the same now that they know better. I utilize insights from neurobiology and interpersonal neurobiology in the way that I apply CBT. We often learned things through repetitive experiences. So it often takes repetitive experiences of the new thought, feeling, or behavior before the body changes the way it automatically reacts.

You can start CBT therapy in Denver, CO today!

Cognitive Processing Therapy for Trauma

This is a particular type of CBT that the APA recommends for PTSD treatment. Cognitive Processing Therapy is specifically designed to help clients with the negative thoughts they have due to trauma.

Cognitive Processing Therapy is based on the idea that avoiding thoughts and feelings about the trauma prevents you from being able to heal.

It includes identifying how the trauma changed what you believe about yourself, other people, and the world. As well as how to change those beliefs so you can feel better and have fewer PTSD symptoms.

The client shares the story of their trauma. And the therapist helps with how the client thinks about what happened. The therapist teaches the client how to challenge their own thoughts. The goal is for the client to be able to do this on their own. Since they aren’t going to be in therapy forever.

This technique focuses on feeling safe, trusting yourself and others, feeling a sense of power or control, having self-esteem, and being able to be intimate with others.

Prolonged Exposure for Trauma

This is also a particular type of CBT that the APA recommends for treating PTSD. It helps clients by teaching them that their memories of the trauma and things that remind them of the trauma are not dangerous.

In session, the client will describe the events in the present tense. They are recorded so they can listen to their story in between sessions. The client will practice calming themselves while telling the story and listening. As well as calming themselves outside of session when they are intentionally exposed to things that remind them of the trauma.

 

How I use CBT for PTSD, Cognitive Processing Therapy, and Prolonged Exposure as a trauma therapist in Denver, CO

One of the core things that I see with PTSD is that my clients have different beliefs about themselves, others, and the world than they did before the trauma. I see changes in beliefs about feeling safe, trusting yourself and others, feeling a sense of power or control, having self-esteem, and being able to be emotionally and physically intimate with others.

Notice that these are the concerns I discuss on my website?

Some of those beliefs can’t change. Because they are associated with a greater awareness of what’s possible. Some beliefs need to be applied to fewer situations.

There was a research study done with a little boy the researchers named Albert. Every time the researchers showed Albert a rat, they would make a loud noise. Which scared him. Eventually, Albert would look afraid every time he saw the rat. Even when the researchers didn’t make a loud noise. The researchers then found that Albert was afraid of anything that reminded him of anything about the rat. The family dog, a fur coat, some cotton wool, and a Santa Claus mask.

Our brains do this with trauma. Part of how I apply CBT to trauma is helping clients to distinguish between the thing that really is scary (the loud noise). And the thing that reminds them of the scary thing, that really isn’t scary (the rat, the family dog, etc.). This helps clients not need to avoid the trauma reminder. Because they know and feel that it’s not scary.

One of the core things that I see with PTSD is that my clients have different beliefs about themselves, others, and the world than they did before the trauma. I see changes in beliefs about feeling safe, trusting yourself and others, feeling a sense of power or control, having self-esteem, and being able to be emotionally and physically intimate with others.

Notice that these are the concerns I discuss on my website?

Some of those beliefs can’t change. Because they are associated with a greater awareness of what’s possible. Some beliefs need to be applied to fewer situations.

There was a research study done with a little boy the researchers named Albert. Every time the researchers showed Albert a rat, they would make a loud noise. Which scared him. Eventually, Albert would look afraid every time he saw the rat. Even when the researchers didn’t make a loud noise. The researchers then found that Albert was afraid of anything that reminded him of anything about the rat. The family dog, a fur coat, some cotton wool, and a Santa Claus mask.

Our brains do this with trauma. Part of how I apply CBT to trauma is helping clients to distinguish between the thing that really is scary (the loud noise). And the thing that reminds them of the scary thing, that really isn’t scary (the rat, the family dog, etc.). This helps clients not need to avoid the trauma reminder. Because they know and feel that it’s not scary.

Again, neurobiology teaches us that we have to have repetitions of a new experience in order to retrain our brains  how to react. Triggers associated with a threat of death are even harder to override with new experiences. I may never feel completely calm when a dog approaches me if I was almost killed by one as a toddler. But I can learn how to feel calmer and be able to pet dogs if I would like to.

One of the things that I watch for when clients describe traumatic events is whether they describe them as something that happened in the past. Or whether they slide into describing them as though they are occurring in the present. Part of the problem with trauma is that our brains have a hard time distinguishing past and present. So we always experience the trauma as though it is happening now. Part of the goal of therapy is to start to help your brain know that the trauma happened in the past.

Retelling your story isn’t always helpful. If done badly, it can reinforce the experience of the trauma in the body. Intentionally exposing yourself to cues can also reinforce the experience of the trauma. It has to be done slowly and carefully while ensuring that you remain calm.

Telling your story is typically only helpful if what happened was a secret or you didn’t allow yourself to talk about it. Or if somebody denied the truth of your version of the story.

I can help you to heal from the impacts of the trauma even if you never tell me your story. We can work on your beliefs. We can work with how the trauma is stored in your body without having to talk about the original trauma. Sound therapy can help without having to tell the story.

Your story is yours and you only have to share it if you feel it would be helpful. Or even just share the parts of your story that you want to share and not share other parts. I honor your story and that it belongs only to you.

You can start trauma therapy in Denver, CO as soon as you feel ready.

 

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Online in Colorado

CBT is just as effective online as in person. It can be hard to find the right therapist. Online CBT can give you access to the best therapists. Who don’t live in your neighborhood. It’s more convenient, more flexible, saves time and money. No worries about getting sick or getting other people sick.

You can start online therapy in Colorado with a cognitive behavioral therapist. Whether you live in Denver, Louisville, Broomfield, Lafayette, or Longmont.

“But we joke and laugh otherwise we would start screaming.” –Charles Bukowski

Schedule a free 20-minute consultation with Badass Therapy if you feel ready to begin cognitive behavioral therapy in Denver, CO.

Learn more about sound therapy, somatic therapy, or check out my FAQ’s.

Serving the Denver Metro Area, Colorado Springs, Fort Collins, Boulder, Grand Junction, Greeley, Pueblo and the entire state with online therapy in Colorado. I do not see clients at my home-based office located in Brighton, CO.

Due to limited availability, please text or email me to schedule a consultation