Is This the Right Time for Mental Health Therapy?
Consistent with our philosophy of choice and personal empowerment, our mental health therapists are experienced and skilled in a wide range of issues. A therapist’s role is to assist you in finding the solutions to your life issues that fit you. There is no “cookie cutter” approach. The first question is whether this is the time for you to seek therapy.
Some cues that seeing a therapist could be helpful are:
- finding yourself talking about the same problems over and over with friends
- a recent major change or loss, the pain of which isn’t going away
- reading about your ‘problem’ on the internet or in self-help books and not finding relief
- feeling more troubled or stressed recently and not finding ways to alleviate these feelings
- trying to make personal changes but not being successful
- an over-riding concern about a behavior, thought or feeling that is getting worse or more intrusive
- others are expressing concern for you
- you feel like life has lost its zest and happiness
This is not a checklist, but mere signs that it may be time to ask for help with your mental health.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Based on the principle that thoughts influence feelings, feelings influence actions and actions influence our results or life circumstances. In other words, situations don’t makeus feel certain ways. People don’t makeus feel certain ways. It’s how we interpret (or think about) situations or things people say or do that influences how we feel.
Events > Thoughts > Feelings > Actions > Results
We experience some kind of an event in life (trigger). How we think about, process or interpret that event will affect what type of emotions we experience and how intensely we feel them. Feelings often influence actions. And how we choose to respond influences the outcome or the circumstances in which we find ourselves.
- Thinking is something that can be instant (picture a giraffe, picture a snowflake, picture yourself at your best friend’s house). We can conjure up these images.
- Feelings – different story. Close your eyes and feel enraged. Can you do it? What did you have to do to feel enraged? You had to think about something that would get you there. Regardless of what you thought, the point is that it’s almost impossible to command our feelings.
- In CBT, all behavior makes sense and serves a purpose. This doesn’t mean the ideas we have learned over the years are always healthy – some may have worked at one point in life but not anymore.
- Studies indicate CBT efficacy for a wide range of problems, including depression, generalized anxiety, social phobia, personality disorders, marital distress, panic, PTSD, etc.
- Core beliefs/schemas: a mental filter that guides how people interpret events. People are different. We have each gone through unique experiences in life that shape how we view things. These experiences help create core beliefs. Identifying what specific beliefs you have is an important part of recovery, as these are what shape how you respond to life situations. Some common themes: failure, approval seeing/unlovable or unlikable, helplessness, worthlessness/defectiveness, abandonment, mistrust, vulnerability, emotional inhibition, emotional deprivation, subjugation (turning control over to someone else or being controlling), entitlement, punishment, insufficient self-control. Core beliefs feel true, but that doesn’t mean they are true.
The idea is to identify ways of thinking that are in some way distorted or dysfunctional and test and modify them over time. The clinical term for changing the way you think is cognitive restructuring. The good news is that over time, anything learned can be unlearned. It took your whole life thus far to come to think the way you do. So, retraining the way you think takes time. CBT takes a critical look at how you process information, attempts to test and modify this over time and eventually helps you change the way you think and respond to life circumstances.
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