• Mind + Mom + Baby

Understanding Your Patterns: The Key to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy


Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is one of the most common types of talk therapies practiced today. Unlike many other types of talk therapy, though, CBT focuses on how your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors all connect. Dealing with mental health issues or major problems in your life can feel overwhelming. The beauty of CBT is that you can break down those issues into smaller pieces.

If you’ve done any type of research into therapy, you’ve probably heard of CBT. But, what can you really expect from this type of therapy? What is it all about, and what is the key to CBT?


Read on to find out.

What Does Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Treat?

CBT is widely used for a variety of different mental health conditions, including:

  • Anxiety

  • Depression

  • Eating disorders

  • Marital issues

  • Substance/alcohol abuse

CBT works so well for so many different conditions because it focuses on the underlying issues and breaks them into manageable pieces. It digs below the surface to identify thinking patterns that have become distorted. It also helps with unhealthy emotional responses and behaviors. Not only will you learn what might be causing you to struggle, but you’ll also learn tools to help you cope effectively and healthily.


CBT is often used to help newly postpartum moms and dads who are struggling during this time of welcoming a new baby into the world. Postpartum is a time of intense change within the family, routines are in constant flux, sleep and self-care are lacking greatly and overall, things are pretty much all new. Much of this can contribute to a break down in communication and the cognitive - behavioral loop sometimes needs a fine tuning. It is for this reason that CBT is a great option for helping many postpartum parents who are struggling with a bout of depression or anxiety.

What Does It Mean to Understand Your Patterns?

Engaging in healthier thinking patterns is one of the biggest benefits of CBT, but first, you need to know what your existing patterns are. And understanding this part of yourself will begin as soon as you start.


While every therapist and situation are different, you can typically expect the following from CBT sessions:

  1. Learning how to identify negative thoughts and feelings

  2. Practicing new skills to cope with those negative behaviors

  3. Setting goals for yourself

  4. Learning how to solve problems that arise from “triggers”

  5. Monitoring yourself after you’ve completed CBT

CBT helps you to identify and challenge your thought patterns (think of them as thought habits). It will help you identify which thought habit you default to most often and perhaps help you identify why that might be. Most importantly, CBT will help you develop more helpful thoughts patterns. And it will help you understand how a thought pattern that tends to catastrophize situations can lead to depressive or anxious feelings. By identifying and reshaping the thoughts, we can change behavior and ultimately help you feel better.

How Long Will I Need To Be In Therapy?

As you can see, CBT is very structured, and because of that, it’s incredibly effective in a short amount of time. In many cases, someone can complete CBT in about 20 sessions or less.

When it comes to understanding your patterns, you’ll find that it happens within the steps listed above. Identifying negative thoughts is just the beginning. Learning how those thoughts affect your behaviors and picking up on your patterns will be easier as you talk more about what you’re thinking.


Once you start to realize your own patterns, it will feel like a “lightbulb moment”. It will allow you to see the things that are affecting you negatively and causing you to stay stuck.

Is CBT Right for You?

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is refreshingly unique in its approach. Instead of focusing on reward or reinforcement, it focuses on how your thoughts affect your behaviors. But does that mean it’s the right therapy solution for you?


In order to decide that, you have to be willing to change, and changing your patterns isn’t easy. It takes time and effort, and a real dedication to making things different. Even though the process itself might move quickly, progress could be more gradual because you need to focus on smaller parts, rather than the “big picture”. You also need to begin from the mindset that you are ready to complete some self-examination and make some changes within yourself - not expecting those around you to change. They will need to make their own changes on their timeline.


The idea is to progressively work toward a larger goal by accomplishing smaller ones along the way. That’s a process that makes things much less overwhelming, and you’ll be guided through it every step of the way.


Consider your personal preferences when it comes to CBT. Are you ready and willing to make positive changes in your life? Have you decided that it’s time to fight back against negative thoughts, feelings, and behaviors?

--

If you’re interested in learning more about CBT, contact me to set up an initial appointment. Particularly if you are struggling with the effects of prenatal or postpartum anxiety or depression, CBT may be the solution you’re looking for. I offer a complimentary phone consultation to all potential clients. To schedule yours in a matter of seconds, please check here.


To learn more about how counseling can help you during your postpartum journey, please click here.


BRINGING BABY HOME: A NEW PARENT WORKSHOP IS GOING VIRTUAL!!!! A workshop for couples who are thinking about or planning to have a baby, who are expecting a baby or who have children already. Based on years of research and experience and developed by the Gottman Institute, this 12 hour workshop is designed to repair communication skills and jump start your relationship with your partner. For more information, please click here.

Jennifer Perera is a mom of two boys, a spouse and a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. She has a private practice in Springfield, New Jersey and also sees clients throughout New Jersey via telehealth. Her passion is helping new moms and dads find their joy again in parenthood through individual and couples counseling. She also runs workshops for new parents, teaching them techniques and strategies to help them have a stronger relationship - built to thrive during the parenthood years. Jennifer specializes in working with parents during the prenatal and postpartum periods and those coping with grief or loss issues surrounding pregnancy.