Like most cognitive behavioral therapists specializing in anxiety treatment, I believe that negative thinking patterns actually cause you to feel anxious or depressed. Anxiety (as opposed to productive stress) is triggered by thoughts of threat or danger and looking at your life in a pessimistic, self-critical way.
Likewise, depression primarily results from thinking about loss or other incidents which damage your self-esteem. A negative loop of emotionally damaging effects is created. You can, however, learn to identify thoughts, moods and behaviors at an early stage and intervene to break the destructive cycle.
In addition to increasing your awareness and examining the accuracy of your thinking patterns, I work in a therapeutic partnership with you to confront your fears and to encourage change. When patients take the difficult step of dealing with troublesome issues – rather than avoiding them – they usually discover that their worst fears aren’t nearly as terrible as they imagined.
Research has shown that creating new patterns of thinking and action can actually change the organization of the mind. Positive Emission Tomography (PET) and MRI findings indicate that cognitive and behavioral modifications occurring in a psychotherapeutic setting actually modify the dysfunctional neural circuitry associated with mood disorders. With Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, you are functionally “rewiring” your brain!
Philip Pierce, Ph.D., is a licensed clinical psychologist located in Los Angeles, specializing in Anxiety Treatment.