I’m of course just joking. CBT can be really helpful, and if it helps you, I support it!
CBT is predicated on the idea that thoughts come first: you have a thought, and your body and emotions respond to that thought. This is certainly true sometimes! The principles of CBT are very useful in those cases, and in my experience, they are excellent for putting your mental house in order. CBT is a great tool for developing healthy mental habits; that alone can be enough to overcome the brunt of a mood disorder, and empower you to heal.
But there is growing evidence that, in many cases, emotions or physical sensations arise first, in the body… and our conscious mind, which is built to try and normalize our experience by providing a rational narrative of our experience, then produces a thought that could explain this feeling. In those cases, CBT misses the mark.
Especially where trauma is involved (and let’s be honest… when is trauma not involved?!) the body produces certain emotions, almost by instinct, and related thoughts then result. There are other treatments that are significantly more effective than CBT in those cases.
Alternatives to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy — The Body, Soul and Mind
Unfortunately, many psychologists don’t know much beyond CBT and it’s dogmatic reign of terror… er, I mean, moderately consistent clinical results and institutionally accepted, mechanistic worldview. Cough, cough.
For example, when I was being treated for PTSD from a car accident (which is trauma! And therefore involves the body! and therefore can’t be dealt with exclusively with a cognitive aka mind-based treatment!) I had two separate psychologists tell me that Exposure Therapy, which is based on CBT principles and techniques is the only treatment for PTSD. First of all, that’s just not true. Secondly, CBT has a low success rate with PTSD. Because of that misinformation, I had to undergo challenging and traumatic exposure treatment, and an incomplete recovery, which led to a terrible resurgence of PTSD a year later… that I am still fighting to overcome. My greatest success so far? Working with my body (where I believe trauma is stored, experienced, and must be processed), instead of against it, using somatic based treatments — those that include the body.
EMDR, a more body-inclusive, or somatic, therapy, is significantly more effective and has much more research behind it… in spite of that, EMDR is still considered ‘fringe,’ perhaps because it is based on the idea that we are far more than our minds, and that much of what we are cannot be explained by materialism-based science.
For many, especially veterans, overcoming PTSD is a matter of survival. Exposure therapy is terrible to go through, and my traumatic experience with it isn’t isolated: many PTSD sufferers experience worsening of symptoms with exposure therapy, often at serious risk to their lives.
Let’s Get Physical: It May Not ‘Just Be Your Mood’ After All
While serotonin deficiency may not be responsible for your despair, there are other, often overlooked physiological conditions that can manifest like mood disorders — feelings of overwhelming sadness, anxiety and depression included. Many doctors simply aren’t familiar with these diseases, aren’t sure how to diagnose them, believe that they are really rare, or don’t have time to take a thorough enough case history to truly understand what’s going on with you.