Core Principles of CBT
The primary theory behind CBT is that your behaviors, feelings, and thoughts all impact each other. It is driven by the belief that you can replace problematic thought patterns with more helpful and positive ones.
Changing the way you view your thoughts can improve your quality of life.
Within CBT, there are three levels of cognition.
- Core beliefs: These are informed by your childhood and are rooted in how you view yourself, your environment, and your future.
- Dysfunctional assumptions: People, by nature, hold onto negative thoughts more easily than positive thoughts. These negative thoughts are cognitive distortions and irrational thought patterns that impact your view of reality.
- Automatic negative thoughts: These are negative thoughts and perceptions of reality that happen involuntarily in your mind and can impact how you feel.
CBT gives you tools to reframe such negative thoughts and how you view situations.
Example of Reframing Automatic Negative Thoughts
For example, if you text someone and they don’t text you back on the same day, you might think, “They don’t like me. They don’t care about me. They no longer want to be my friend.”
This negative thought pattern may spiral and result in more negative thoughts and actions related to your relationships.
With CBT therapy, if you text someone and they don’t text you right back, you train yourself to think about the other possibilities, “Maybe they are busy today.”
Your thoughts would not spiral into additional negative thoughts, which can make depression and anxiety even worse.