This is not intended to be a complete explanation of cognitive therapy but rather just a brief overview.
Cognitive therapy is an effective psychotherapy for anger management, marriage counseling and individual problems.
Every human being has millions of thoughts going through his mind every day. The vast majority of these
thoughts do not give anyone a problem and are just a normal part of brain and human functioning. However some of these thoughts
to do become problematic because they are usually found in core beliefs that people have about themselves, which are also
called schemas. An example of this type of thinking is "I am unloved" or "I am incompetent" or "I am always to blame." Other
types of thoughts such as "no one must cut me off" or "everyone must be nice to me" can lead to angry thoughts, requiring
an anger management approach.These types of thoughts are what hinder people in their daily functioning and cause conflicts
within themselves. In cognitive psychotherapy, the therapist is attempting to find these types of thoughts and beliefs, and
to help a client change them. A cognitive therapist is more interested in what a person is thinking in the present, rather
than dwelling on what happened to him in the past. This doesn't mean the therapist will ignore the past, but he will put it
in the context of its relationship to present day thinking. This approach can be helpful not only in how one feels about
himself but in relationships, such as in marriage counseling.
The bad news about human beings is that they cannot always control what thoughts come to their minds.
However, the good news is that human beings are capable of creating their own thoughts in addition to those that come involuntarily.
So if a person is continually plagued by self-doubt's and feelings of poor self-worth, he can learn to overcome these but
actually examining these ideas and questioning the validity. In cognitive psychotherapy, the first approach is to help find
when a person has his highest level all of negative moods, such as anger or depression or sadness. After identifying when
these moods occur, the next step is to relate them to what is happening at the moment. From there the client can then become
aware of what thoughts are associated with these moods, and this would be able to sort out those thoughts which are making
him feel worse and those which are helpful. With the guidance of the therapist, the client then learns to question the validity
of these thoughts by interjecting other thoughts of an opposite nature. In this way, he can overcome the negative effects
of these troublesome thoughts, and move toward a more functional and useful way of thinking.
The goal of a therapist is not only to help the client to identify and change these thoughts, but to
actually learn the process so that eventually he can do it for himself. There are some who say that a good therapist works
himself out of a job with each client. This means that not only the actual changing of thoughts is important, but also understanding
the process. This is especially important in anger management.
The explanation is just a brief overview of cognitive psychotherapy and by no means is intended to
be a complete explanation. For those who wish to read up on the subject further I recommend that you read Mind over Mood
by Christine Padesky and Dennis Greenberger. For a more clinical approach, you can also read a classic in this field, The
Cognitive Therapy of Depression, by Aaron Beck, A. John Rush, Brian F. Shaw and Gary Emery. You can also contact me by
e-mail or by telephone if you have additional questions about this type of therapy and how it applies to anger management.