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5 Surprising Ways That Fear Leads to Procrastination

5 Surprising Ways That Fear Leads to Procrastination

With spooky season in full swing, fear is an emotion that is at the forefront of our minds. Fear often has the effect of causing us to avoid the object of the fear. As we get older, we stop fearing the monsters under our bed and begin fearing seemingly more innocuous things. An important phone call can get the heart racing just as much as the latest horror movie, so we avoid making that phone call. In this way, fear can lead to both long term and short term procrastination. 

Fear is an emotion that lets us know that something is wrong or that we’re in danger. It’s biologically designed to cause avoidance of the object of the fear. In this way, it can help to keep us out of harm’s way. However, sometimes we fear things that are not actually dangerous (such as starting a new project at work or having a hard conversation with a friend). Even though we aren’t in any real danger, the fear can still lead to avoidance. Recently, we blogged about various causes of procrastination and suggested strategies for reducing this common habit. In the spirit of Halloween, we’ll be expanding on the strong link between fear and avoidance, while exploring some of the most common fears that lead to procrastination.

Fear of Failure 

Fear of failure is one of the most common fears experienced by most people throughout life. This fear is often linked to perfectionism or black and white thinking. Instead of acknowledging the huge grey area between success and failure, this cognitive distortion causes us to believe that if something isn’t done perfectly, then it’s a complete failure. A persistent fear of failure may be linked to low self-esteem. If you don’t believe that you have the capability or knowledge to achieve something, it’s easy to constantly feel as though you won’t achieve your goals. This fear is typically characterized by an avoidance of the activity that is inciting the fear in the first place. In this way, procrastination and a fear of failure often go hand in hand. Many people fear the possibility of failure so much that they will put off beginning a task or procrastinate when it comes to the pursuit of goals.

Fear of Success

You may be surprised to know that the fear of success can be just as debilitating as a fear of failure. We all want to succeed, so how is it possible to fear success? The truth is that success can be scary. Success can mean more publicity or notoriety and this can be intimidating for those who prefer to stay out of the spotlight. Success brings great pressure to continue to perform and often comes with additional responsibilities and challenges. It’s also common to fear possible reactions to your success. Will your success alienate you from your peers or family members? Will people think that you’re bragging or snobby because of your newfound success?

In the same way that a fear of failure can cause procrastination, the fear of success can make it difficult to start and complete projects. Because you fear the aftermath of the success, you subconsciously delay starting the task altogether. 

Procrastination and Fear of Rejection

Everyone has feared rejection at some point in their life. This fear can develop in early childhood and shows up in various settings throughout life – socially, professionally and in our romantic lives. We may first experience it when we are afraid of getting turned down by a parent, so we avoid asking for permission to do something. The fear has many underlying causes and, if left unchecked, can place significant limitations on a person’s life. A fear of rejection can affect your ability to meet new friends, form romantic relationships and advance in the workplace. We often need to “put ourselves out there” in order to succeed and the fear of rejection makes this very difficult. 

For example, you may procrastinate on applications for jobs, scholarships or other opportunities due to the fear of rejection. You may also put off sending important emails because of the fear of rejection. 

Fear of Judgment and Procrastination

The fear of judgment is experienced by people from all walks of life because we all want to feel accepted and understood by those around us. The fear of being judged can hold you back in many ways. You may be afraid of being judged while exercising, which causes you to avoid getting a gym membership or going outside for a run. You may want to start a blog, but you’re afraid of people reading and judging the things you write. Fearing the negative opinions and reactions of others often leads to procrastinating on doing the things that we really want to do. 

A fear of judgment can also have a negative impact on interpersonal relationships. Are you hiding parts of yourself from the people close to you? A fear of judgment can often lead to a lack of vulnerability in relationships, which limits the quality of your connections. This fear of judgment can cause you to procrastinate on having difficult (but necessary) conversations with the people in your life. 

Fear of Missing Out

The fear of missing out (often shortened to FOMO) stems from the perception that everyone else is more successful or happier than you are. FOMO can cause feelings of anxiety, as you are led to believe that your peers are progressing and leaving you behind. It’s often triggered by observing others and making comparisons. 

FOMO is linked to smartphone addiction. To avoid feeling left out, we’re tempted to constantly keep up with social media posts, the latest headlines and the newest trending topics. Smartphone use in turn triggers feelings of FOMO, as we are often watching the highlight reels of others

Can you identify with any of these fears and are you able to see how they may be holding you back? Last Halloween, we explored the ways that Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) can help you to face and overcome your fears. By working with a therapist, you’ll be able to uncover how these fears may be manifesting in your life or preventing you from achieving your goals. Through CBT and other forms of talk therapy, you can develop the skills needed to “feel the fear and do it anyway!” Contact us to schedule your first session.

4 Causes of Procrastination – and how to overcome it

4 Causes of Procrastination – and how to overcome it

Procrastination is a common human experience that we’re all prone to. As children, we put off doing chores and homework even though we might get in trouble. As adults, procrastination can affect us at work, home, in our personal lives and even our health and finances. It can take the form of putting of daily tasks (like washing the dishes) for a short period of time, or putting off bigger tasks (like getting a check-up at the doctor) over a longer period of time. 

Even the most hardworking, organized and disciplined people struggle with procrastination because it has very little to do with laziness, poor time management or a lack of discipline. Procrastination is simply an unhealthy coping mechanism used to handle difficult emotions or situations. Identifying the reason for your procrastination is the first step to getting back on track with the things you want to do.

If procrastination is a habitual part of your life or you’ve been procrastinating for an abnormally long time, it can be described as chronic. This is a common issue for people with ADHD and other mental health concerns. Key indicators can be a habit of being late for meetings or missing deadlines. It can also show up as putting things off in multiple areas of your life – at work, at home, in relationships, etc. 

When procrastination begins to negatively affect your mental or physical health, your finances or your relationships, you may wish to start working with a therapist. This can help you to uncover the reasons for your procrastination, adjust your mindset and take the first step towards achieving your goals. 

Here are four of the most common causes of procrastination. 

{NOTE: Flourish Psychology is a NYC private practice but licensed to provide therapy in more than 30 states. Please review our patient locations list to learn more}

1. Perfectionism and Procrastination

Perfectionism can show up in different ways. You may be waiting for the “perfect” time to do something, even though there will never be such a time. You may be so desirous of a perfect outcome that you spend excessive amounts of time in the planning phase, but the actual task is being put off. Perfectionists are prone to all or nothing thinking, where something is either perfect or terrible, with no in-between. Quite often, they will procrastinate because they fear they will be unable to meet the unreasonable standards they set for themselves. They won’t be able to do it perfectly, so they avoid doing it at all. 

If this feels familiar, remind yourself that done is better than perfect. Embrace the concept of “good enough” and lower your unreasonable standards. It doesn’t need to be perfect. It just needs to be good enough. A slightly flawed completed task is better than one you’ve been putting off because it needs to be flawless.

2. Fear of Failure

Fear of failure is one of the most common causes of procrastination. When we are afraid of a negative outcome, we will naturally try to avoid it. When you put off a task, you are trying to delay the failure that becomes a possibility once the task is complete. By changing your attitude towards failure, you may be able to break the procrastination habit. Remind yourself that every successful person has faced significant setbacks and losses along the way. Failure represents a unique learning opportunity. With the knowledge you gained from a failure, you’ll have a better chance of success next time around.

3. Lack of Resources or Information

Another common reason for procrastination is simply feeling that you are ill-equipped to handle a task. Maybe you don’t have sufficient information or you find the task confusing. When we don’t know how to begin a task, it’s easy to keep putting it off. By gaining clarity, we feel a lot more confident in our ability to perform.

If you’re procrastinating because of a lack of clarity (such as not knowing the process to do something or how to access the tools you need), make it a priority to seek information. For example, many people delay planning for retirement because they think it’s too complicated or expensive. By making just one phone call, you’ll find out that it’s a lot easier than you think.  Do your research and ask questions to ensure you have all the information you need to confidently get started. 

4. Low Self-Esteem and procrastination

Low self-esteem can lead to procrastination when we doubt our ability to perform. If we believe that we aren’t competent, intelligent or skilled enough to do something, it makes sense that we would avoid that thing. By not facing the task, we don’t have to feel the difficult and unpleasant emotional effects of low self-esteem. 

Building healthy self-esteem is a continuous process of changing the way your feel about yourself. An effective way of doing that is by providing yourself with evidence of your worth. By starting and completing a task, you’re showing yourself that you have a lot to be proud of. 

Strategies for Reducing Procrastination

It’s normal to procrastinate from time to time. First, ask yourself if you genuinely need a break and if so, give yourself guilt-free permission to relax. Burnout can lead to a lack of motivation or energy and can make it difficult to start or finish tasks. Rest is an important element of productivity, since we need to be well rested to do our best work. If you don’t need to rest, try to devise a strategy to start. Starting is the hardest part and a task begins to feel more manageable once we’ve gotten over that first hurdle. 

Taking a small first step is often all that we need to get the momentum going. If you’ve been putting off cleaning your home, try starting with just one corner or one sink. Set a timer for five minutes and pick up as many items as possible. If you feel like stopping after completing your small step, it’s okay to do that. Quite often, we want to continue once we’ve gotten started. If you feel motivated to keep going, go for it! 

Working with a therapist is an excellent way to address your procrastination. You’ll have professional guidance as you discover the causes of this habit and how it may be linked to your mental health or past experiences. Using CBT or other techniques, a therapist can also help you to improve your mindset about perfectionism, failure and your views on yourself and your work. 

Contact us today to schedule your first session. 

How to Identify and Address Intrusive Thoughts

How to Identify and Address Intrusive Thoughts

Intrusive thoughts are those thoughts that pop into your head seemingly out of nowhere. They happen automatically and can happen at any time. These thoughts are usually unwanted, unpleasant or even painful. Intrusive thoughts are often repetitive in nature and usually come in the form of mental images or statements said to yourself.

These thoughts are normal and most of the time, they come and go without causing us much distress. They become a problem when they are too intense, when they start to negatively impact our behavior or when they cause us to harm ourselves and others. 

NOTE: Interested in therapy with Flourish Psychology? We are able to provide therapy for patients in over 30 states. Learn more by viewing our patient locations list

Why Does This Happen?

Everyone experiences intrusive thoughts from time to time. Sometimes, they are unpleasant or embarrassing memories or replaying scary or traumatic situations. Intrusive thoughts do not always indicate an underlying mental health condition and are not always indicative of a need for medical attention. But if your thoughts are very intense or have been affecting you for a prolonged period of time, it can be a sign of a mental health condition. 

People living with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) often experience flashbacks and other intrusive thoughts connected to the traumatic event. Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is known to cause uncontrollable and obsessive intrusive thoughts that may cause you to take certain actions (compulsions) in an effort to stop the obsessive thoughts. People who have developed an eating disorder commonly experience overwhelming thoughts about food, their health and their bodies. 

Common intrusive thoughts

People have intrusive thoughts about all sorts of things and these thoughts are usually unique to their personal circumstances. For those who have experienced trauma, it’s normal to have recurring intrusive thoughts related to the event, including flashbacks or ruminating on how you could have avoided the event or done things differently. People with low self-esteem often feel like there’s a bully in their head. These intrusive thoughts tend to be self-deprecating in nature and can lead to decreased feelings of worth. 

Many people have intrusive thoughts about death and may fear that they are going to get into an accident or that someone will harm them. Other people may have intrusive thoughts about catching a disease or being poisoned. It’s also quite common to have thoughts of committing illegal or violent acts, whether against yourself or others. Sexual thoughts are also very common. Many people experience unwanted or inappropriate thoughts or images of sex. For example, heterosexual people may have an intrusive homosexual thoughts or vice versa. Or you may have an intrusive sexual thought about an inappropriate person like a family member.

It’s always important to remember that you did not cause your intrusive thoughts. They happen automatically and they are normal. Most of these thoughts are never acted upon. Intrusive thoughts become harmful when they become obsessive or when they begin to negatively influence our behavior. 

Three-Step Method for Addressing Intrusive Thoughts

  1. Don’t try to suppress the thought

It’s normal to want to suppress an unpleasant thought when it pops up. Sometimes we even physically shake or hit our heads, trying to get the thought out. But this is a counterproductive strategy that can lead to even more rumination. Here’s an example:

Don’t think about purple elephants. Are you envisioning a purple elephant right now? Are you able to get yourself to stop? Probably not. 

Suppressing an intrusive thought tends to have the boomerang effect of the thought continually returning to you. By suppressing a thought, we are actually thinking about the thought, which can turn into a cycle of rumination. 

2. Label the thought

A critical step to addressing and eliminating these thoughts is to acknowledge and label them. When you realize that you are having one of these thoughts, it can be helpful to say to yourself or out loud “I am having an intrusive thought.” This can help to prevent you from attaching yourself to the thought. You are aware of exactly what it is, so you are better able to control it. Some people even give these thoughts a name to separate themselves from the thought. 

For example, you can decide to call the intrusive voice in your head after a villain in a childhood cartoon. When the thought pops up, you can say to yourself “That’s just a Plankton thought.” This simple strategy is helpful for both children and adults.

3. Talk to the thought

Now it’s time to actually address the thought. Talk to it as if it were a separate body. Let it know that it’s not wanted or helpful right now. Let it know that you’re aware that it’s just an intrusive thought and that you don’t have to attach yourself to it. If you’ve named the thought, you can address it by name. 

By practicing this three-step method when unwanted thoughts arise, you may notice over time that you’re less affected by your thoughts. By simply acknowledging and addressing them, you can take back your power.

If you have been struggling with uncontrollable, intense or unbearable intrusive thoughts, or if you are worried that these thoughts may cause you ongoing distress, it’s important to seek help. By working with a therapist, you can uncover the root of your unpleasant thoughts and develop actionable skills and strategies for addressing, minimizing or eliminating intrusive thoughts. 

Contact us today to schedule your first session. 

how to figure out how long therapy will take

how to figure out how long therapy will take

Many people contemplating starting therapy may be wondering how long it takes to work. This is a reasonable question to ask as you prepare to invest in your mental health. You may be wondering how much of your time you will need to commit and there are also financial considerations. 

Although the average person spends about twelve sessions in therapy, it really isn’t one-size-fits-all. We all have different needs, goals and unique characteristics that make therapy look different for each person. The amount of time spent in therapy is dependent on factors such as the treatment method being used, the condition being treated and the patient’s personal history.

Some people begin therapy with specific goals in mind and others are just looking to make general improvements to their mental health. For this reason, people may either attend therapy for a definite period of time, or may go to therapy on a regular schedule for an indefinite period of time. Because the therapy journey is so different for everyone, it’s hard to pinpoint a definite timeframe for treatment. Here are a few things to consider when trying to estimate how long therapy may take. 

There’s No “Finish Line” with Therapy

Think about your general practitioner or another medical professionally you see regularly. How often you visit them depends on your needs and your health situation. For example, if you’re actively treating a current illness, you may be making regular, frequent visits. When you’re not experiencing an illness, you may go in once a year for a checkup. 

It’s the same with seeing a mental health professional. There’s no real “finish line” when it comes to mental health. Many people develop long term relationships with mental health professionals and see them as needed throughout the course of their lives. Others attend therapy for a set number of sessions that was pre-determined by the clinician. 

Treatment Time Depends on Many Factors

Treatment time is dependent on several factors, including the condition being treated, the kind of treatment being used and the patient’s individual history. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is an effective short-term form of psychotherapy that is usually completed in about twelve weekly sessions. Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy can last anywhere from three to twelve sessions, depending on the type of trauma being treated. 

Treatment time can also depend on the condition being treated. For example, treating Borderline Personality Disorder with psychotherapy can take about six months, which is the average time taken to complete a Dialectical Behavioral Therapy course. Treating a mental health disorder with therapy doesn’t mean that the condition will go away. It just means that you’ll be in a better position to manage and minimize the symptoms after you leave the clinician’s office. You can use techniques and skills learned in therapy throughout the rest of your life.

The biggest determining factor is YOU. You get to choose how long you continue going to therapy based on your needs. Some people have been seeing a therapist one per week or every other week for years, even if they are not experiencing any serious mental health issues. Some people begin seeing a therapist once per week and gradually decrease the frequency to biweekly, then once per month, then a few times per year. 

How to Tell If It’s Working

How can you track your progress to determine if therapy is making positive changes in your life? The easiest way is to ask yourself how you feel. After a few sessions of therapy, many people feel a sense of relief or begin feeling more hopeful about the future. Just knowing that you’ve taken such an important first step can cause a significant improvement in your mood. As you continue going to sessions, you may feel yourself becoming more comfortable discussing topics that were once quite difficult to talk about. 

Although therapy cannot change the external factors that may influence your mental heath (such as your finances, job or relationships), it can equip you with the tools to manage the challenges that arise in your life. If you notice that you’re better able to cope when things go wrong or whole going through a rough patch, it’s a sure sign that you’re making progress in therapy. 

With effective therapy, you’ll also notice your habits and behaviors slowly changing. Maybe you’re able to make healthier choices or you’re stepping away from harmful or unhealthy habits, people or places. You may notice that you’re better able to effectively communicate your needs and set boundaries with the people in your life. Therapy can bring about an improvement in your self esteem and a significant reduction in negative or intrusive thoughts. 

Another way to know that therapy is working is when  you find yourself applying tangible skills learned in therapy when you’re on your own. Maybe you’re using CBT techniques to challenge anxious thoughts before a job interview or using DBT skills to self-soothe during a rough day. By learning skills and techniques in therapy, you’re teaching yourself to be more self-sufficient when your session is over. 

A Commitment to Mental Health

While it’s a valid question to ask, try to pay more attention to making a commitment to your mental health than to checking off a certain number of therapy sessions on your calendar. Listen to yourself and do your best to honor your own needs. If you’re going through a particularly rough period such as a divorce, miscarriage or the death of a loved one, you may need more frequent visits until after you’ve processed the event. As you begin to heal, you may want to talk to your therapist about decreasing the frequency of sessions. 

How Long is Too Long?

When it comes to therapy, quality is more important than quantity. This means that the most important consideration isn’t length of treatment time, but whether you are experiencing improvements in the quality of your mental health. With that said, if you’ve been in therapy for several sessions and you aren’t feeling better, it’s time to tell your therapist. Your therapist can adjust the treatment plan so that it is more effective for you. If you simply aren’t feeling a connection with your therapist, it’s okay to bring this up so that you can switch to a clinician who is a better fit. 

When you’re ready to begin your therapy journey, the clinicians at Flourish Psychology stand ready to help you meet your goals. Take the first step by scheduling your first session

Proven Strategies for Tackling Social Anxiety This Summer

Proven Strategies for Tackling Social Anxiety This Summer

While many people are looking forward to a summer of outings, gatherings and socializing, others may be experiencing some social anxiety at the thought of heading back out into the world. Due to COVID-19, most of us were indoors for the greater part of 2020 and 2021. But as vaccination rates continue to increase, governments are relaxing restrictions and businesses are beginning to reopen to the public. Though we are still being cautious, many people are now able to visit restaurants, bars, gyms and sports venues after more than a year of lockdowns.

While some are excited at the prospect of life going “back to normal” and being able to visit friends, attend events and socialize, others may feel reluctant about heading back out into the world after so much time at home. This reluctance may be because of concerns about the pandemic itself, or you may have gotten so accustomed to life at home that going out now feels strange.

For others, the prospect of being invited to gatherings and events brings on a feeling of anxiety due to the social expectations. If these feelings of fear and anxiety start to affect your ability to function in your daily life, you may be dealing with social anxiety disorder.

What is Social Anxiety Disorder?

Social anxiety disorder (also known as social phobia) is a common mental health condition that affects more than 15 million Americans. Though many people develop it in adolescence, it can easily continue to affect you in adulthood if not properly addressed.

Social anxiety disorder is an intense and often debilitating fear of being judged or rejected in a social setting or a performance-based scenario. People dealing with social phobia may feel anxious about being seen in public or having to socialize with others. Common thoughts include a fear of being perceived as awkward, boring or stupid to peers or even strangers. As a result of these fears, you may avoid social settings such as dates, parties or dinners with friends or colleagues. For some people, social anxiety extends into work-related settings and can affect your ability to perform in job interviews, performance evaluations, presentations or meetings. For others, social anxiety can affect their ability to go to the gym or go for a run outside, for fear of being watched or judged by others.

When symptoms persist for at least six months and affect your daily life and activities, it may be time to speak to a mental health professional to address the symptoms.

Is social anxiety the same as shyness?

Most people will experience shyness at some point in their lives and it’s easy to conflate this with social anxiety because they can be quite similar. Shyness is very common in childhood and adolescence as we develop social skills and become more comfortable with our bodies and ourselves. By adulthood, most people would have outgrown this shyness or developed coping strategies to enable them to push through the shyness and form meaningful relationships with the people around them.

Social anxiety is characterized by intense and extreme symptoms that can impair your ability to function in your daily life. People with social anxiety often go as far as avoiding social situations altogether, causing them to miss out on important opportunities for personal or professional growth. Those with social anxiety disorder may lose sleep due to their intense feelings about an upcoming social situation and often experience physical symptoms such as a racing heart, shortness of breath or sweating.

If you are isolating yourself on a consistent basis due to fear or anxiety, or if the anxiety is preventing you from living the life you want, you may be dealing with a disorder, as opposed to just shyness.

What are the signs/symptoms of social anxiety disorder?

Social anxiety disorder often manifests in both physical and psychological symptoms. When placed in a social setting, you may begin blushing, sweating or may experience an increased heart rate. Other common physical symptoms include clammy palms, nausea and an inability to project your voice.

Your mind may begin racing, or it may go completely blank. Social anxiety can also result in feelings of embarrassment, self-consciousness or insecurity. You may be overly critical of the things you say and do and how these things will be perceived by others. When your fears and feelings of anxiety cause you to avoid social activities on a regular basis, this is one of the clearest signs of social anxiety disorder.

During a screening for social phobia, your clinician may ask questions such as:

  • Do you have an extreme fear of looking silly or awkward to others?
  • Do you avoid activities where you might be the center of attention?
  • Is it difficult for you to relax in social settings?
  • Do you avoid situations that require you to be sociable?

Treatment for Social Anxiety Disorder

The good news is that treatment for social anxiety disorder is available and effective. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is one of the most popular treatment options due to its short treatment time and effectiveness. CBT teaches you to challenge the racing thoughts that cause you to become anxious in social settings. For example, you can learn to realize that at the gym, people are too focused on their own workout and body to be judging you. As you learn to reframe your thinking, you can slowly become more comfortable in these settings.

Exposure therapy is another effective treatment option for social anxiety. This is when you gradually work yourself up to the situations you fear the most by starting out with less challenging situations. For example, you can start by eating alone in public to teach yourself that nobody is watching or judging you as you eat. As you become more comfortable, you can work your way up to being able to go out with a friend to eat and then a small group.

Based on your unique challenges, a mental health professional will be able to work with you to find the best treatment plan. The clinicians at Flourish Psychology are trained to help treat a variety of mental health challenges, including social anxiety disorder. Schedule your first session with a therapist who can help you to live your best social life.

Do You Know These Important Differences Between CBT And DBT?

Do You Know These Important Differences Between CBT And DBT?

If you’ve been thinking about starting therapy, you may have come across the terms “CBT” and “DBT” in your research. Though they may sound similar, there are many important differences between these two kinds of psychotherapy. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) are two of the most common treatment modalities used by clinicians to treat mental illnesses, improve your thoughts and behaviors and equip you with the skills needed to handle the various challenges in your life.

Because these two forms of therapy work in very different ways, it’s important to understand the key differences between them so that you can choose the one that’s right for you. Here at Flourish Psychology, we want to get you matched with the clinician who best meets your needs. After a free consultation, you’ll begin seeing your therapist, who will determine the best type of therapy based on your unique needs.

Let’s explore some of the differences between these two kinds of talk therapy.

What is CBT?

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is a form of talk therapy that’s considered to be a fast and reliable way of addressing negative thought patterns caused by cognitive distortions. Cognitive distortions are habitual ways of thinking that are inaccurate and usually negative. It’s an exaggerated thought pattern that is not based in fact, causing you to view things a lot more negatively than they really are. For example, you may believe that an unanswered text message means that your friend is upset with you when in reality, they misplaced their phone. CBT teaches you the skills needed to slow down, identify cognitive distortions and challenge them. This can lead to a more positive outlook on life.

CBT teaches you how your thoughts, feelings and behaviors are all linked to each other. By changing your thoughts, CBT also allows you to change your behavior and develop more positive habits and ways of living. CBT is a structured, short-term and goal-oriented form of therapy, used to address a specific challenge or issue in your life.

What is DBT?

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy was developed as a form of talk therapy to help people cope with extreme, overwhelming or unstable emotions. With this form of therapy, the emphasis is on emotional regulation. DBT is actually a modified form of CBT that is more focused on coping with stress, anger and difficult relationships with other people. DBT was originally developed to treat borderline personality disorder (BPD), but is now commonly used to treat other mental health conditions or to help people who have difficulty in regulating their emotions. DBT is excellent for curbing self-destructive behavior and is particularly effective in treating substance abuse disorders.  

Differences Between CBT and DBT

  1. They’re Used to Treat Different Concerns

A key difference between CBT and DBT is that they’re used to treat different mental health concerns. DBT was developed to treat borderline personality disorder (BPD), but has proven to be effective in treating patients who have difficulty managing their emotions, such as persons with anger management concerns. On the other hand, CBT is more focused on challenging negative thought patterns and cognitive distortions. CBT helps you to change unwanted behaviors by first managing your thoughts. CBT is usually used to treat a specific concern in a relatively short period of time

2. They Equip You with Different Skills

Both CBT and DBT equip you with important skills that stick with you long after you’ve completed your treatment. With CBT, it’s all about teaching you how to identify and challenge cognitive distortions and reframe your thoughts. One of the most common cognitive distortions is “all or nothing thinking” or “black and white thinking.” This is when your brain sees things in two extremes and fails to acknowledge all the possibilities in between. With all-or-nothing-thinking, things are either perfect or a complete failure. CBT teaches you to recognize that things are never black and white.

DBT skills focus on distress tolerance and teaching you to regulate your emotions during difficult times. When you are able to recognize your emotional triggers, you can prepare yourself to react more rationally in times of distress.

3. They Have Different Treatment Times

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is a short-term, goal-oriented form of talk therapy. Patients begin their CBT journey with a specific concern or goal in mind. CBT lasts a few weeks and is proven to be effective in this relatively short time period. DBT is a longer-term form of therapy that is more generalized in nature. DBT can continue for as long as the patient wishes to continue

4. They Take Different Approaches to Relationships

CBT is more focused on your relationship with yourself and the way your own thoughts impact your emotions and actions. With DBT, the focus is on how external triggers impact your emotions and behaviors. CBT is more of an “inside job” because it teaches you to pay attention to your thoughts, identify negative thought patterns and change them into more positive ways of thinking. DBT, on the other hand, helps you to respond more rationally to the challenges that arise in your daily life based on your environment or the relationships with the people around you.

CBT OR DBT – Which Is Right For You?

By understanding the differences between CBT and DBT, you’re better able to determine which type of therapy would be most beneficial for you. Here at Flourish Psychology, our clinicians are trained in both forms of therapy and stand ready to help you achieve your goals. When you schedule a free consult, you’ll share your main concerns challenges and goals so we can get you matched with a therapist who best meets your needs. After your initial sessions with your therapist, they’ll be able to determine which form of therapy is right for you. Some patients have even found it beneficial to learn skills from both treatment modalities to help address multiple challenges in their lives.

To learn more about CBT or DBT, or to schedule a free consult, contact us today.

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