To understand Cognitive Behavioral Therapy it is first important to understand the connection
between situations, thoughts, feelings, behaviors and body responses. Wanting to see changes in these four areas is the reason that people seek out help.
We all live in a world where situations happen all the time. We are constantly in a situation. Situations can be positive, negative or neutral.
Whenever a situation happens we experience it in 4 different ways: we have thoughts, feelings, behaviors and body responses or physiological sensations.
Body responses are physiological experiences such as an increased heart rate, shaking, tenseness in our muscles and sweating.
To understand how to make changes in these four areas we must understand a few basic principles.
All of these areas are connected to each other and impact each other. If we change one of these 4 areas, all the others change as well.
We have some control over two of these areas: our behaviors and our thoughts.
If we take advantage of some of the control we have and change our behaviors and our thoughts we have the opportunity to also change our feelings and our physiological body responses because all of these areas are connected.
Our thoughts have a majority of the control over everything else (feelings, actions, and body responses).
Therefore, if we think something and we believe that it might be true (even if we are wrong) it will impact how we feel, what we do and the way our body responds.
JUST BECAUSE YOU THINK SOMETHING DOES NOT MEAN THAT IT IS TRUE.
Consider how these three beliefs would impact feelings, behaviors and body responses and then click on the links to see compare your ideas with ours. Remember there are no right or wrong answers because we all have different thoughts in different situations.
- Believing that the dog you see at the park will bite you. see example
- Believing that your friends are going to throw you a surprise party. see example
- Believing that the world is going to end in 5 minutes. see example
Because of the way our thoughts can impact feelings, behaviors and physiological responses and because of the fact that not all thoughts are true, the first step in addressing distress is to start to develop an awareness of the thoughts that are popping into your mind when you feel distressed. A therapist
at the Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Center can help you take the first steps toward learning these skills.