You don’t have to have a romantic partner to know that depression, anxiety, and other mental health disorders can put a strain on relationships. You could be a professional whose social anxiety prevents you from joining your co-workers at happy hour, a twenty-something whose depression has caused you to withdraw from your best friends, or a mother whose alcohol abuse has driven a wedge between you and your children. When an individual is experiencing significant challenges in life, it can be difficult for his or her relationships to thrive. Luckily, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can help.
Cognitive behavioral therapy is a type of psychotherapy that focuses on problem solving and improving a patient’s happiness through identifying dysfunctional thought patterns and replacing them with positive ones. The basis of cognitive behavioral therapy is that a person’s own thoughts influence his or her behavior, and so changing those thoughts will shift the person’s perception of reality. The goal of cognitive behavioral therapy is to help a patient achieve greater happiness and a better quality of life. Many patients are surprised that their relationships also improve as a result of cognitive behavior therapy, even when those relationships aren’t the primary focus of the treatment.
Here are seven ways cognitive behavioral therapy can improve your relationship:
It helps you be more present
It’s difficult to connect with someone who may be physically present but whose mind is elsewhere. Mindfulness-based cognitive behavioral therapy increases your ability to be attentive to the person you’re with.
It decreases anxiety
Anxiety prevents us from being independent and striking a healthy balance between give and take. For example, If a person with social anxiety relies on a particular friend to always accompany her to bars, parties, and other gatherings, it can lead to feelings of irritability and resentment. Cognitive behavioral therapy reduces anxiety for greater harmony in relationships.
It boosts your mood
It’s difficult to be the partner you want to be when you have little interest in activities, low energy, and no sex drive. When you seek cognitive behavioral therapy for depression, you’ll learn how to transform negative thoughts into positive ones, which will lead to a better mood and a happier relationship.
You’ll sleep better
Depression and anxiety can interrupt your sleep with constant feelings of unhappiness, worry, and hopelessness. Over time, a lack of sleep may lead to fatigue, irritability, and forgetfulness, all of which can negatively impact a relationship. Cognitive behavioral therapy can help turn the negative thoughts running through your head into positive ones so you can fall asleep faster and sleep more soundly so you can be the friend or partner you want to be.
It replaces negative coping skills with healthier ones
People with anxiety or depression often turn to alcohol to soothe their symptoms. Alcohol use disorder can put significant stress on a relationship and lead to low relationship satisfaction, domestic abuse, and even divorce. Cognitive behavioral therapy targets the negative thoughts a person tries to quiet with alcohol and supports the replacement of drinking with healthier coping tactics.
It teaches you to align your thoughts with reality
When a person’s thoughts become distorted, it can have a negative impact on his or her relationships. For example, when you’re frustrated that your roommate didn’t wash the dishes, you might think she expects you to clean up after her, fostering feelings of resentment and hostility. In reality, maybe her not washing the dishes has nothing to do with you. Cognitive behavioral therapy teaches us to evaluate all the facts, recognize the story the mind has created, and replace dysfunctional thoughts with constructive ones.
It encourages you to live your intentions
You might say your relationship is the most important thing in your life, but your actions tell the opposite story. For example, perhaps you spend more time scrolling through your phone than talking to your partner when you’re together. Cognitive behavioral therapy encourages you to look at your relationship, set clear goals, and identify concrete steps you can take to help you reach them.
Improve your relationship with CBT at Alvarado Parkway Institute
At Alvarado Parkway Institute, we incorporate cognitive behavioral therapy into our inpatient and outpatient programs to help our patients address negative thought patterns and behaviors and replace them with positive ones. Even if your primary treatment goal isn’t to improve your relationship, you may find that cognitive behavioral therapy makes it easier to be present and communicate with your partner for increased happiness in all areas of life. Call us today to learn more about our depression, anxiety, and mental health services at (619) 485-1432.