Cognitive Behaviour Therapy

Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT)

By: Dianne Christine Colbert

In hundreds of clinical trials, CBT has been demonstrated to be an effective treatment for a wide variety of disorders. To name just a few, it has been found useful for:

  • psychiatric disorders such as depression, the full range of anxiety disorders, eating disorders, substance abuse, personality disorders, and (along with medication) bipolar disorder and schizophrenia;
  • medical disorders with a psychological component,including several conditions involving chronic or acute pain,  chronic fatigue syndrome, pre-menstrual syndrome, colitis, sleep disorders, obesity, Gulf War syndrome, and somatoform disorders; and
  • psychological problemssuch as anger, relationship difficulties, and compulsive gambling.

CBT is also used to address stress, low self-esteem, grief and loss, work-related problems and problems associated with aging.”[i]

Simply put, CBT is a talking therapy that helps you to examine how the way you are thinking is impacting how you are feeling. How we are feeling will often impact the way we are behaving. Many studies have been done over a long period of time about the effectiveness of CBT. I have often heard it stated by professional mental health sources that CBT is the best treatment for depression and anxiety.

I believe the Bible is the best book on CBT. It is filled with wisdom that can bring peace, joy and contentment. When we fully understand and apply the truths written in Scripture, it has power to transform our mind and emotions.

One person wrote on a blog that “About 5 years ago, I was having severe anxiety and depression issues and counseled with a believing friend who, among other things, suggested I spend time in prayer and reading of my Bible daily. Seems like an obvious solution but I had abandoned any effort weeks earlier. I remember crying and admitting to the Lord that I was feeling wretched – begging for Him to give me something I could hold onto because I needed peace.

Not knowing where I ought to start reading, I just went back to the place I had left off: John 14:1 ‘Let not your hearts be troubled; believe in God, believe also in me.’ The Lord made it very clear at that moment that my fearfulness and sadness had been of my own making because He had placed in my heart something I needed to do that I had ignored and resisted for months. My heart was troubled because I refused to trust that God’s plan is best. I did not believe that His instruction is good and landed myself in a pile of misery.”

This is a good example of the way a person thinks changing the way they feel. By changing her thinking and making a decision to trust that God’s plans were best, she was set free from feelings of depression and anxiety. I have also found this to be true in my own life. That when I choose to trust God and believe His word, I exchange anxiety for peace, frustration for contentment – just about every negative emotion can be turned around by believing God’s word above what my feelings are saying.

I run my own business. Just as with every business, some seasons are busy and others are quiet. During those quiet times it could be easy to become anxious about my finances. I am able to be at peace about the future by reminding myself of Matthew 6:34 (NKJV) “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”

A key to changing your thinking is observing your thoughts and learning to control them, rather than allowing your thoughts to control you.

There are 10 common thinking distortions – one is mistaking feelings for facts. However true it may seem, our feelings may differ greatly from facts. Take the rather extreme example of the man who feels like he is a cat. Regardless of his feelings, he is a man. His body is made up of human tissue, intricately woven together. He has been created as a human and will always be a human – regardless of how many surgeries he has to modify his body. Sometimes feelings come from thoughts like “they must think I’m stupid.” We can never truly know what someone else is thinking – so we need to challenge these unhelpful thoughts.

Further information on these common errors can be found in this article written by Amy Morin: https://www.psychologytoday.com/10 thinking errors that will crush your mental strength

We hear in Romans 10:5 “We tear down arguments, and every presumption set up against the knowledge of God; and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (BSB) The key to overcoming thoughts that lead to negative feelings is to ask God to show you from His word what the truth is. Learning to trust God helps to overcome fear and anxiety. It helps to free us from unnecessary pain.

We will all go through difficult times and circumstances. This is normal. At these times I am consoled by words such as “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” (Psalm 46:1 NIV)  After my younger brother’s suicide, I found great comfort in the verse “weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.” (Psalm 30:5 KJV) Whatever the situation, we can go to God’s word to find truth that will give us strength to walk through the valleys. We can draw on His strength that passes human understanding as we cling to the promises of Scripture.

King Solomon, known for his great wisdom, encourages us to “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.” (Prov 4:23 ESV)  One way that we can do this is by following the Apostle Paul’s instructions – “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things” (Phil 4:8 ESV). Focusing on these things will help to build positive feelings and eliminate negative feelings. It will help us to guard our hearts from fear, anxiety, worry and any other thing that can drag us down into the pit of despair.

KEY THOUGHT: The way you think influences the way you feel. Focusing our hearts and minds on Scripture can help us to overcome negative emotions and lead to greater well being.

[i] http://www.beckinstitute.org/cognitive-behavioral-therapy-anxiety/

 

Disclaimer:

Information and resources available on this website are not a substitute for professional medical care by a qualified doctor (such as your General Practitioner) or other health care professional, and medical professionals should always use their own clinical judgement before relying upon this information. All Nations Christian Mental Health Association (ANCMHA) is not responsible or liable, directly or indirectly, for any form of damages whatsoever resulting from the use (or misuse) of information contained in or implied by the information on this site.