As a cognitive therapist, I help people to examine how their thinking affects their feeling and behavior. CBT helps people take a look at problematic thoughts. The basic premise is that unhelpful thoughts lead people to feel depressed or anxious. Unhelpful thoughts lead to avoidance of situations, withdrawal from others, and apathy.
For example, imagine that two women each get broken up with by their boyfriends. Woman A thinks to herself, “I am a lovable person. I will meet another guy. I feel sad right now but the future is still hopeful”. She may still feel sad but she picks herself up and reconnects with friends and family.
Woman B thinks, “I am unloveable. I will never meet someone else. There is something fundamentally wrong with me. The future is bleak”. She lies in bed, avoids her friends and family, and gives up on things she usually enjoys.
Who is going to feel more depressed? Woman B.
In a CBT session, the therapist will help the client to examine these unhelpful thoughts and challenge the thinking. The first step is to help clients to identify these negative thoughts and to see the connection between thinking and moods.