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  • Lianna Purjes, MSEd, MSW, LSW

Why CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) Is Awesome and How it Can Help You!



Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is one of those alphabet soup acronyms that you may have heard people mention before or seen listed as a type of therapy on a website but don’t know much about.


I like to think of CBT as a sitcom with three main characters:


Cognitive (Thoughts)

Behavioral (Actions)

Therapy (Feelings)




Cognitive is the CBT character that likes to think, analyze, draw conclusions,

and is kind of like a neurotic Woody Allen type.





The Behavioral character of CBT is about action and living in the moment. The character that goes with the flow, and, in my imagination, wears flip flops and a hemp outfit.


Therapy is the CBT character feels very deeply and likely has a Mary Poppins sized bag full of tissues and essential oils.


Let me introduce you to a very important main character which might seem like a bit of a secret . That secret and main character is you. We’ll call you “Self.” Let’s take a closer look at how these characters interact with one another.


Episode 1:


You (Self) wake up and look over at your phone. “What?!” you shout. Your alarm didn’t go off and you’re supposed to be at work in 10 minutes.


You hop out of bed, brush your teeth, throw on some clothes, and rush out the door. You get in your car and hit the road.



Cognitive says, “Self, you’re running so late! Your boss is gonna be pissed, you may even get fired!”


Therapy starts trembling with fear and worry, some really fast paced, intense music plays in the background.


Behavioral makes your heart race and you drive faster, weaving in and out of traffic. Horns are honking and other drivers are making some not so friendly gestures.


Cognitive chimes in again, “If you get fired, you won’t be able to keep up with the bills, buy that new computer you wanted, or get your kids the birthday presents they want.”


Therapy feels anxious and makes you start to panic. Behavioral makes you shake and sweat.


And now a commercial break!


Has something like this ever happened to you? Can you imagine being in “Self’s” shoes? What if it went like this instead…


Cognitive says, “Self, you’re running so late! Your boss is gonna be pissed, you may even get fired!”


Cognitive’s twin, Healthy Cognitive, says, “Woah, hold the phone. Everyone is late for work once in a while. You’re usually on time, and it’s likely your boss will understand.”



Therapy feels a little anxious but tries to stay calm, taking a deep breath. Behavioral picks up the phone and calls the office to let them know Self is running a little late today, and the person who answers the phone says, “OK, thanks for letting us know!”




Therapy takes a deep breath and feels better. Behavioral drives quickly, but safely, to work.


As silly as this little dialogue may seem, it’s a great example of how our thoughts, behaviors, and emotions (feelings) are all intertwined. CBT consists of different exercises to help you change your unhelpful thought patterns so that you end up with the second scenario rather than the first one.


Even though both scenes involve some feelings of anxiety, the actions that result are very different.


In the second case, changing the thought pattern (you’re getting fired to → everyone’s late sometimes) resulted in the change of emotion (extreme fear and panic to → healthy amount of anxiety) and a change in behavior (driving recklessly to → calling the office and driving safely).


We can’t control our feelings, they are what they are. But, we can work on changing the likelihood of them coming up or their intensity by working on changing our thoughts. Imagine how different your life would be if you were able to lessen the impact of negative thoughts and feelings!




Will using CBT mean you’re deliriously happy 100% of the time and everything will be puppies and rainbows?


No, of course not.







But! CBT can make a HUGE difference in managing negative emotions and feeling less overwhelmed by them.


Having some doubts about how well this can work? Wondering what it looks like and if it could help you with what you’re going through? Feel free to contact me HERE or book a free consultation HERE, and I’d be happy to talk about creating a plan that works for YOU.





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