As experts in cognitive behavioral therapy, our licensed professionals at NorthStar Regional understand that mental health problems are difficult to face.

man in purple suit sitting across from red-haired woman


Psychiatry is a key component of our comprehensive mental health and substance abuse treatment.




Looking for more information on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and what to expect in the process? When someone first goes to a therapist, they are generally asked what issues bring them in and how they want help. The answers often come down to wanting to feel better and act differently. Recovery from substance use and mental health disorders require changes in the way clients act and behave. By doing so, they will also feel better. Actions and feelings follow what we think and believe. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) requires recognition of past cognitive, or thinking, errors and creates challenges for each thought distortion. By confronting these distortions and negative thought patterns, behavior can change, and a person can become whole and healthy.



Negative thoughts including inaccurate exaggerations, irrelevant thoughts, misperceptions, doubts, deceptions, and lies you tell yourself influence your feelings and actions and can undermine your emotional health. With mental health disorders such as anxiety, depression, and bipolar illness, these thoughts, feelings, and beliefs often become confused and distorted, leading to unhealthy behavioral patterns.



Cognitive Behavioral Therapy can help those who struggle with anxiety, depression, and other mental health disorders which can cause distorted thoughts. Automatic Negative Thoughts (ANTs for short) are those deeply-held, often-repeated, pessimistic views that lead to intense emotions and unpredictable actions. ANTs can ruin any picnic, spoil the fun, and derail a positive mood as they distort the truth. Yet every ANT carries a crumb of truth. You may think you are dumb because you failed a test. The crumb of truth is that you failed the test. Calling yourself dumb is the distorted and inaccurate thought. When outcomes support these thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, the negative responses are reinforced and can become deeply held, yet irrational, ways of perceiving the world. The truth is, it may be difficult to identify the distorted thoughts. Negative thoughts are often unreasonable and blown out of proportion, fueling emotional problems, and making one resistant to change. They lower self-esteem, decrease judgment, increase fear, and warp reality.



Consider the following five step process to change your thinking that are typically used in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.


1. Recognize negative thoughts. We often have difficulty recognizing our negative thoughts for what they are. As you become emotionally stronger, you may be more able to recognize pessimistic and destructive thoughts as they come. Recognition of a negative and upsetting thought allows you to take it captive, weight its validity, and accept or reject it.


2. Refute negative thoughts. As you analyze a thought, determine if it is destructive and damaging, and if it is, you can refuse to believe it, decline its value, and discard it, telling yourself, “That is not true and I will not accept it.” You can kick it to the side and refuse to entertain it as legitimate. Do not believe every thought you think. Determine if it is true, and reject it when it is not.


3. Replace negative thoughts. After you have refused a negative thought, find a positive alternative or substitute. Think about things that are true, right, and wholesome. “I can’t do this” becomes “Just one step at a time—I am making progress.”


4. Rehearse positive substitutions. Because you have told yourself a negative thought or repeated line of thinking so many times in the past, it will be necessary to intentionally repeat the positive substitution as well. You can replace negative, biased, and fear-based self-talk with positive, realistic, and empowering statements.


5. Repeat the process as necessary. As you work through the process of recognizing, refuting, and replacing negative thoughts while practicing positive substitutions, it is likely another negative thought is on its way. Repeat the process as often as necessary in order to stay at peace and upbeat. Challenge your worries and fears as often as it takes.



Cognitive Behavioral Therapy recognizes the interaction between an activating event and the beliefs, the thoughts that follow, and the resulting consequences and emotions. Given this pattern, if you want to change how you act or how you feel, you have to change the way you think. Recovery is possible, not by trying to behave differently, but by changing what you believe and the way you think, confident that, as a result, your behavior can change.

Contact us today to learn more about Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and how it can help you reach your goals of feeling better and acting differently. 


Additional Information

Our experienced cognitive behavioral therapy therapy staff will: