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Written by Brandon Okey. Mina Draskovic, B.Psy., reviewed this content for accuracy.

The earliest forms of cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, were developed in the mid-1900s. Today, the approach is used to help people with mental health issues such as anxiety, substance abuse, depression, eating disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder. The idea behind the methodology is that people’s thoughts affect their behaviors, and you can change your thoughts by monitoring and challenging them. There are a few CBT techniques that therapists may use to help people ditch unhealthy behaviors and replace them with beneficial habits.

CBT Techniques for Anxiety

CBT Techniques for AnxietyRumination, the tendency to let your thoughts cycle around the same issues without moving toward action, can prevent you from releasing anxiety. Humans’ imaginations are incredible; they can come up with and believe immensely distressing ideas. When intrusive thoughts swirl around your brain, you’re often unable to see things realistically or make decisions. One way to use CBT techniques for anxiety is to recognize and accept runaway thoughts. You can’t block thoughts completely. Admitting that you have them will give them a chance to flow through you instead of trapping them in your mind and growing in intensity. Identifying thought distortions is important too. Notice the thoughts that you have when you’re especially emotional. These are often exaggerated and overly negative, judgmental, biased, one-sided and inaccurate. Talking to yourself kindly after you recognize the distorted thinking can bring you back to reality and enhance your motivation for self-improvement.

CBT Techniques for Cognitive Restructuring

Once you become more aware of your thoughts, you can begin to understand that your thoughts about an incident cause you to behave in a certain way. This is a huge shift for many people because they may have assumed that the incident itself led to the consequences. Cognitive restructuring involves scrutinizing their thoughts and challenging harmful thinking. Often, one of the cognitive behavioral therapy techniques that can be effective for this purpose is Socratic thinking. When you identify an inaccurate thought, ask yourself the following questions:
  • Is this realistic?
  • Is this idea based on facts or emotions?
  • Could I be misjudging the facts?
  • Am I focusing on the black or white when the situation is more complicated?
  • Is this thought occurring out of habit?

CBT Techniques for Guided Imagery and Visualization

Guided imagery is useful for relaxation or to expose someone to a memory that produced a strong negative reaction. By bringing up a hurtful or traumatic situation in a safe environment, you can reduce its ability to trigger you and work on coping skills. Guided imagery and visualization can also help you concentrate on the present moment without getting lost in your thoughts. You can use your breath to stay mindful of your body and surroundings, focusing on reality instead of the false constructs that can take over your mind. At Ardu Recovery Center, we use traditional cognitive behavioral therapy techniques in conjunction with other approaches to encourage holistic healing. We aim to fill your toolbox with resources that can combat stress so that you can enjoy a lasting recovery. Our programs include: Finally, you can rise above your habits, thoughts, and limitations. Contact Ardu Recovery Center today at 801-810-1234 to learn how we can help.    
Brandon Okey

Brandon Okey is the co-founder of Ardu Recovery Center and is dedicated to empowering people on their journey to sobriety.