Are you thinking of looking for online therapy for an issue you are struggling with? The option of CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) is an empirically verified and widely endorsed approach to counseling that lends itself easily to an online format. There are many advantages and benefits of this therapeutic approach within an online format. This article will give you some insight into the nitty gritty of online CBT. How does it actually work? What will you specifically get from using this approach in an online format?
A Focus on Specific Outcomes
Given that CBT is a very goal-focused and structured approach a CBT therapist and/or program will spend time identifying the specific issues you want to focus on. You will have the opportunity to identify what it is in the here and now that you want to work on and you will be equipped with the tools to address these problems. CBT is not a loosely focused approach to therapy, but rather has a tight structure, the benefit of which is that you can clearly see whether the therapy is working or not. For instance, if the problem you want to address is feeling anxious when talking in public then you can clearly evaluate after a few weeks whether you have seen an improvement with regard to this issue or not.
Understanding and Controlling Your Thought Processes
CBT is particularly useful in modifying or shifting unhelpful thought processes. For instance, the person feeling anxious when speaking in public may have accompanying thoughts such as “I am going to make such a fool of myself” or “I am a useless idiot”. These negative thoughts which emerge automatically are well addressed by CBT which will provide you with the tools to understand how these thoughts impact on your feelings and behavior as well. Online CBT will also equip you with the capacity to make choices regarding the validity of such thoughts and replace them with more helpful, realistic thought processes.
Learning Helpful Ways of Reacting
Online CBT is based on the empirically verified assumption that our thoughts, feelings and behavior are learned and can be unlearned. Online CBT will provide you with a method for unlearning bodily responses and behaviors that accompany negative thought processes. If part of your response to anxiety is rapid shallow breathing, online CBT will help you to replace this unwanted, unhelpful response with deep, slow breathing that will support a more helpful emotional and cognitive response to the anxiety provoking experience of speaking in public.
Tools and Skills to Take Away
Long after the therapy is over, you will still have the tools and skills you leant during your online CBT sessions. CBT requires the client to complete tasks and homework that are agreed upon with the counselor or form part of an online program. By really engaging with these tasks the takeaway from online CBT is significantly increased. These tools and processes allow you to develop an enduring and sustainable understanding of your thoughts, feelings and behaviors, and a sustainable skills set for developing and maintaining helpful and supportive thoughts, feelings and behaviors. For example, when dealing with anxiety when it comes to public speaking, the client may be equipped with skills such as cognitive reframing and/or guided visualization. These skills are not reliant on the therapeutic context, and once learned, can be drawn on for years to come.
The combined impact of an online CBT intervention potentially translates into real change that can be sustained in the long term. With clear goals, a deepened understanding of the problem and the tools to address your issues, you can experience sustainable change.
Dr. Stacey Leibowitz-Levy is a highly-experienced psychologist with a Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychology and a PhD in the area of stress and its relation to goals and emotion. In addition to her private therapy practice, she currently runs E-counseling.com – a mental health resource with self-help guides on stress, anxiety, depression, and many other areas. During her spare time, Stacey enjoys spending time with her husband and children, being outdoors and doing yoga.