Cognitive Therapy

Written by Rachel Arieff
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Cognitive therapy is a way of reevaluating thinking patterns to live in a less stressful and more emotionally fulfilling way. All of us have patterns of thinking that we learn from childhood on. These patterns can be helpful or unhelpful. It is the unhelpful patterns--the ones that cause us stress and unhappiness--that this type of therapy endeavors to change.

Stated most simply, the way we interpret information can be either positive or negative. Our interpretations are not always accurate, though of course we feel that they are. For us, our interpretations of events are reality. In cognitive-oriented therapy, we first work to realize that our interpretations are just that: readings of reality, not necessarily reality itself.

More about Cognitive Therapy

Understanding the above fact can be a quite freeing realization. Once you understand that you can control your stress and unhappiness by the way you interpret events, you can feel a whole new sense of power over your life. Rather than feeling the victim of capricious forces beyond your control, you now have a choice over how you can view and respond to these events.

Cognitive therapy does not dwell on the past, but rather focuses on the here and now. However, in order to do this, we need to be able to examine some of our fundamental assumptions. Many of these assumptions were formed early in life. In this way, cognitive therapy demands that we reexamine the basics in order to be able to move forward.

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