There are several philosophical and counseling theories that I draw from while working with my clients. The theory I identify with most is Aaron Beck’s cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Aaron Beck did an impressive amount of research, and studied a great deal of philosophy, in order to help his clients overcome depression. This led him to create a form of therapy that is now used all over the world. The theory Beck employs is similar to my own in that “the way people feel and behave is determined by how they perceive their experiences.” The ultimate goal of CBT is to help you change the way you think. It does this by exploring any number of cognitive distortions that can lead to anxiety, anger, fear, PTSD, miscommunication, phobias, and so on.
Thoughts & Emotions
Aaron Beck is one of many theorists that observed how your thoughts create your emotions. Plato, in his Allegory Of The Cave, demonstrates how you live in your own perception of reality, rather than reality itself. You are only able to see the world as you see it. Don Miguel Ruiz, in his book The Four Agreements, explains that you create your perception of the world during your domestication. Information was fed to you from the outside world and then assimilated into your mind. You then create a world inside your mind, in which you then spend the rest of your life).
When your inside world becomes depressed, the world outside your mind appears depressed as well. Other philosophies like Buddhism, Yoga, and Taoism focus on helping you break free from your mind’s negative perceptions and thought patterns. With Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, you learn to observe how you are interpreting your reality, so that you may change the emotions you interpretations are creating. In short, if you change your thoughts you change your life.
Changing Your Thoughts
Changing your thoughts requires that you discover the core beliefs creating those thoughts. This is why the initial session resembles a therapeutic interview. You will be asked a series of guided questions to create an understanding of how you perceive the world, and any current issues you are facing. You will then have homework assignments to help you learn how to not only observe your thoughts, and how they are effecting you emotionally, but how to change those thoughts as well.
Change Depends On You
CBT encourages you to take an active role in the therapy process. You will learn how to recognize negative or illogical thinking, and then change that thinking using the tools you’ve implemented. You will then learn tools for changing those negative thoughts to more positive and productive ways of thinking.
While CBT aims to be time limited, it is likely that it will take some time for you to automatically think positively and see things differently. Your negative thoughts were not created overnight, instead they developed over the course of your life. Using the tools you learned in therapy, you will continue to heal yourself outside the therapist’s office, and continue to improve long after you leave therapy.
I am amazed at the effectiveness of Cognitive therapy. I have also incorporated a great deal of it in my book series, Monkey Mind Tales®.