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3362 Big Pine Trail, Suite A, Champaign, Illinois 61822

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is considered to be the gold standard of psychotherapy for a number of reasons. As one of the best treatment options available for various mental health conditions, CBT aims to help you recognize and modify harmful thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. Although this technique has been around for some time now, it continues to be a viable and effective option for many who suffer from depression or anxiety.

 

The cycle of thoughts and behaviors

Here’s a closer look at how thoughts and emotions can influence behavior:

 

  • Negative or unhelpful thoughts cause emotional distress.
  • The distress you experience as a result of these unhelpful thoughts ultimately leads to unhelpful or harmful behavior.
  • Over time, these thoughts and behaviors become a pattern.

CBT addresses these specific patterns to help you deal with stressors and problematic situations as they arise so you can better manage them now and in the future.

 

CBT strategies

So, how does one go about reworking these patterns? CBT involves the use of many techniques. Your therapist will work with you to find those that work best for you.

Overall, the goal of these techniques is to replace unhelpful or self-defeating thoughts with more encouraging and realistic ones. Here are some of the most popular strategies used in CBT:

Goal setting. Setting goals is one of the first and most essential steps in CBT. Your therapist will work with you to identify your goal, distinguish between short and long-term goals, set SMART goals, and guide you throughout the process to get to the desired outcome.

Journaling. You may be asked to keep track of any negative thoughts or beliefs that occur between sessions, as well as how you handled them. This is also a great way to practice new skills and address any difficulties you come across. 

Cognitive restructuring. This involves analyzing and modifying any cognitive distortions (also known as thinking errors) that are affecting you— such as black-and-white thinking, jumping to conclusions, or catastrophizing. 

Thought recording. In this technique, you’ll come up with unbiased evidence supporting your negative belief and evidence against it. Then, you’ll use this evidence to develop a more realistic thought.

Practice new skills. Homework is one of the most important aspects of cognitive-behavioral therapy because it helps you practice the skills you've learned in session. You may start practicing new coping skills, relaxation techniques, or rehearing new thinking patterns when you're in a stressful situation or faced with a trigger.

Situation exposure. In most cases, CBT is a gradual process that guides you in taking the steps needed for behavior change. For example, if you're afraid of public speaking, you might first practice getting up and talking in front of only one or two people. As time goes on, you might work your way up giving speeches in front of larger crowds.

 

What can CBT help with?

CBT can be effective as a short-term treatment that teaches people how to modify their thoughts and beliefs. CBT is used in treating a variety of conditions, including

  • Addictions
  • Anger issues
  • Anxiety
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Depression
  • Eating disorders
  • Panic attacks
  • Personality disorders
  • Phobias
  • Stress management

Takeaway

Cognitive-behavior therapy can help you view yourself and your issues in a new light, and help you make lasting change. If you feel that you could benefit from CBT, contact a CBT therapist or counselor to see if it’s right for you.

If you’ve ever experienced trauma, anxiety disorder, or panic disorder, then you may have realized just how much it can control you.  For many people, exposure therapy may be a way to regain that sense of control, and ultimately overcome your fears.

This article covers the basics of exposure therapy, how it can help, and what you can expect if you're suffering from severe anxiety or phobias.

What is exposure therapy?

Exposure therapy is a psychological technique that involves gradual, controlled exposure to the thing you're afraid of through repeated and prolonged contact. With the guidance of a professional, you'll ultimately feel more confident in your ability to cope with the fear and get past it. 

How does exposure therapy work?

Typically, when someone experiences an anxiety-provoking fear, they’ll go out of their way to avoid any reminders of it. Although avoidance provides temporary, short-term relief, this pattern only strengthens the fear itself. 

 Exposure therapy aims to reduce those irrational fears that someone experiences once they've assigned them to an object or situation by gradually exposing them to various aspects of it. 

Together, the therapist and client work to define the best treatment method based on their experiences and present circumstances. While it's meant to help regain a sense of control, exposure therapy actively confronts a person's fears and anxieties, so it must be done incredibly carefully by a trained therapist. 

What techniques are utilized?

Exposure therapy can take several different forms to promote the reduction of distressing emotional responses. Generally, these methods can include:

  • In vivo exposure: During in vivo exposure, a person will confront a phobia or fearful situation in real-time. For example, if someone has a phobia of enclosed spaces, they may gradually work their way up to riding in a crowded elevator.
  • Imaginal exposure: If a real-world exposure isn't feasible, a therapist will guide someone in confronting it mentally by picturing it in their mind. Imaginal exposure is commonly used for complicated or dangerous scenarios-such as combat-related PTSD.  Visualizing the origin of fear or anxiety with a therapist can reassure someone that they're safe and ultimately reduce feelings of distress.
  • Virtual reality exposure: Virtual reality, like imaginal exposure, is a tool that can be used to help people confront fears and worst-case scenarios. For example, someone with a crippling fear of flying can take a flight virtually in their therapist's office, using equipment to replicate the same sounds, sights, and smells they would experience if they were actually on a plane. 
  • Interoceptive exposure: The technique of interoceptive exposure involves creating bodily sensations closely resemble those associated with panic and anxiety. Despite being harmless, these sensations would cause a lot of distress to someone with anxiety or panic disorder. 

 

Who can benefit from exposure therapy?

Exposure therapy can help treat a variety of anxiety and fear-based disorders, including:

  • Phobias
  • Panic Disorder
  • Social Anxiety Disorder
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
  • Posttraumatic Stress Disorder
  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder

How can it help?

Based on a significant amount of research, exposure therapy has proven to be a safe technique that promotes the following:

  • Habituation: A natural process that happens over time; habituation is when a person finds themselves responding less to feared situations or stimuli. 
  • Extinction: Exposure can help reduce or weaken the association between the feared object or situation.
  • Self-efficacy: Exposure therapy can help show someone that they can confront their fears and manage discomfort. 
  • Emotional processing: Throughout treatment, a person can adopt more helpful, realistic beliefs about their fears, ultimately becoming more accepting and comfortable with them.

 

Taking the next step

Although there are different ways to deal with trauma and many different exposure therapy types, the key is to find a mental health professional who can execute the most suitable treatment for your situation. When done efficiently, the outcomes can be life-changing.

We all have things we're afraid of. But one common fear, in particular, has now taken on new meaning throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

Experts are growing concerned that people with a fear of needles, also known as Trypanophobia, may avoid getting the COVID-19 vaccine. Someone who identifies with this fear may endure extreme dread and anxiety when hearing or thinking about getting the vaccine. They may also avoid or refrain from getting necessary medical care as a result. 

Alongside extreme anxiety, other symptoms of Trypanophobia can include:

  • dizziness 
  • fainting 
  • insomnia
  • high blood pressure
  •  elevated heart rate
  •  feeling emotionally or physically aggressive

Whether your needle phobia is keeping you from getting the COVID-19 vaccine or causing distress about it, here are 6 ways to overcome it:

  1. Seek professional help. Some mental health professionals are experienced in helping people with phobias and can help you better understand your fear and guide you in learning new coping strategies. 

  2. Tell the nurse about your anxiety before getting the shot. If you feel that your fear is so severe that you're at risk for fainting, inform the nurse. There may be specific products available or techniques they use to reduce the risk- like having you lay down instead of sitting upright. Some vaccination centers may allow you to bring someone for support if you feel that would be helpful. Be sure to ask ahead of time! 

  3. Distract yourself. You could choose to watch a video on YouTube, listen to your favorite song, or point out all of the blue objects in the room. Remember, the entire process only takes a few seconds, so choose something you could focus on beforehand.  

  4. Associate the vaccine with positivity. Pay attention to some of the pictures people post after getting their vaccine. This tricks your brain into associating positive feelings with the vaccine. Remember, the more grateful posts, stickers, selfies, you see, the better!

  5. Practice mindful exercises. Not only do anxiety and stress have an exhausting impact on your body, but it won’t make the appointment any easier to get through. Consider utilizing various relaxation techniques like deep breathing or short meditations to calm your nerves before and during your appointment.

  6. Focus on the benefits of the vaccine. Many of us will find that the anticipation of receiving the vaccine is more stressful than the actual event itself. In the case of COVID-19, getting a vaccine means we're one step closer to returning to normal. Remind yourself of this whenever you feel any anxiety or nervousness arise; it'll shift your perspective and ultimately make it a less stressful experience for you.

 

Takeaway

It's OK to be nervous! Focus on the benefits, practice relaxation strategies, and get professional help if you need to.  It'll be over before you know it, and you'll (deservingly) feel a sense of accomplishment and pride knowing that you're doing your part. 

Sensorimotor Psychotherapy (or SMP) is a body-centered approach that aims to understand how the mind, body, and relationships work together to treat the somatic symptoms of unresolved trauma. While traditional talk therapies rely on the individual's verbal account of their situation, this type of therapy focuses on the person's physical experience to improve mental health.

 

What is Sensorimotor Psychotherapy?

SP is a comprehensive treatment approach developed by Pat Ogden, Ph.D. This method integrates sensorimotor processing with cognitive and emotional processing in treating trauma. 

In other words, SP utilizes a person's body, mind, and emotions to manage and relieve physical sensations associated with trauma.

By focusing on the body first, rather than thoughts and feelings, SP addresses the impact the trauma has had on the body, which facilitates emotional and cognitive processing in turn. 

 

When is Sensorimotor Psychotherapy Beneficial?

When used for trauma and attachment-related issues, SP can help turn a  traumatic memory into a source of self-awareness and strength. This gentle, integrated approach provides a powerful therapeutic tool for:

  • Anxiety 
  • PTSD
  • Difficulty concentrating due to overwhelming thoughts or uncomfortable physical sensations
  • Inappropriate emotional reactions that are distressing or disturbing
  • Finding it difficult to enjoy life or feel hopeful
  • Childhood trauma, including neglect, abuse, or toxic parent
  • Trouble keeping a job, a family, friendships, and other relationships
  • Feeling detached from yourself and your relationships

 

How does Sensorimotor Psychotherapy work?

A typical session looks different for everyone, as they depend on your unique needs and capacity for processing trauma. Additionally, it’s based on a therapist’s level of training. Generally speaking, there are three significant steps toward promoting better health:

 

  1. Safety and stabilization: Your therapist will work to identify any physical and mental connections that have been “clocked” or “frozen”. While maintaining a safe, controlled environment, this phase helps highlight the body's response to specific memories, thoughts, and emotions.

  2. Processing traumatic memories:  If you feel ready to speak about the trauma, your therapist may ask you to recall the period of time leading up to the incident. As you do this, your therapist will pay attention to any significant emotional or physical reactions you're experiencing. For example, if you report feeling angry, your therapist may ask you where in your body you feel that anger (your eyes, throat, chest, etc.).

  3. Re-integration: This phase includes strengthening newly restored connections through mental practice, physical exercise, and mindfulness to promote a continuous triumph over the experience.

 

Takeaway

Therapist and client collaboration is essential to successful treatment outcomes. SP can ultimately help you address and overcome any unresolved feelings, behaviors, and thoughts that are disrupting your life.

About Insight Therapy

Insight Therapy is a professional mental health private practice located in Champaign - Urbana. Insight Therapy offers individual therapy, couples counseling, family counseling, and professional mediation services to clients of all ages and issues.

Contact Information

Insight Therapy, LLC
3362 Big Pine Trail
Suite A
Champaign, Illinois 61822

Phone: (217) 383-0151
Fax: (217) 633-4555

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Practice Areas

Depression, Anxiety, Trauma, Addiction, Couples Counseling, Eating Disorders, Sexual Abuse Survivor, School Anxiety, Women's Issues, Relationship Issues, BiPolar Disorder, Personality Disorders, Family Issues, Couples Counseling, Mediation, and more!