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How Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Can Help Anxiety And Self-Esteem

How Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Can Help Anxiety And Self-Esteem

by Spencer Lee, MSW Intern

What is CBT and how does it work?

 

Cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, is a research-backed intervention used to treat a variety of concerns and can be especially helpful working with anxiety and self-esteem.

 

CBT proposes that our thoughts influence our feelings and actions. The idea behind CBT is that changing a negative thought to a more accurate and helpful one will lead to healthier and more positive emotions and actions.

 

When engaging in CBT, we often find that we have many negative thoughts that go unnoticed and are deeply ingrained. The first step to changing these negative thoughts into positive ones, is to identify the thought. A helpful tool in CBT involves keeping a thought diary where you keep track of negative thoughts, what triggered them, and how you felt. After we’ve identified negative thoughts, we can explore the belief behind the thought.

 

For example…

 

Let’s say I have a public speaking event coming up. My initial negative thought might be “I’m going to choke up”, which makes me feel nervous, and therefore, perform poorly. There is a deep-rooted, core belief that drives that thought. The core belief in this example could likely be “I am not capable.” The next step in CBT is to challenge this belief and replace the thought with a more accurate and helpful one.

 

When challenging the thought, I would explore with my therapist times that I have been able to successfully speak in front of a crowd and talk about other times supporting that I am capable. Often, when we look at the evidence to prove or disprove beliefs, we find that the original negative thought we had is false. After changing “I am going to choke up because I’m not capable” to “I have succeeded in the past and I am capable.”, I will develop more confidence, which in turn, will reduce the anxiety I have about public speaking.

It’s interesting to see just how strong the effects of negative thinking can be. Learning to identify, challenge and replace self-defeating thoughts with accurate and positive ones, can make a huge impact on how we feel and the choices we make.


Stillpoint’s intern, Spencer Lee, will be hosting a CBT-based group therapy for middle school-aged girls to help them identify and replace negative thoughts that contribute to anxiety and low self-esteem. Group members can expect to learn coping mechanisms for anxiety, develop healthier thinking patterns, and build relationships with peers in the group.

The group will last 8 weeks and begin January 25th. We have 6 open spots and the cost is $25 per person for all 8 weeks. To learn more about the group, email intern@stillpointcounselingandwellness.com or call our front desk today to get registered 910-769-6360.