Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Tom Smith, modified 3 Years ago at 1/10/21 1:07 PM
Created 3 Years ago at 1/10/21 1:07 PM

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Posts: 140 Join Date: 2/17/10 Recent Posts
I sit almost every day.  I go to a little Hindu temple near myhouse.  I am usually the only one there.  I sit for 1-2 hours usingvipassana techniques.

I've been practicing pretty regularly for 30 years.  I still haveproblems with anxiety.  At times I've been pretty disappointed thatmeditation didn't clear up more of my neurosis. 
Recently I started working with a therapist online, doing cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).  This has been very useful and is workingwell with the anxiety problems.  I think some of the mental clarityand focus from the meditation has made the CBT easier and more effective.

Has anyone else here used CBT?  What are your thoughts?
Maher K, modified 3 Years ago at 1/10/21 8:45 PM
Created 3 Years ago at 1/10/21 8:45 PM

RE: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Posts: 14 Join Date: 1/11/13 Recent Posts
I've been meditating relatively consistently for almost 8 years (about an hour in the morning and three 10 day retreats, mostly concentration/vipassana and then consitently doing 5-10 min of metta at the end of my sessions for the apst couple years) I went to therapy for a few months a few years back, and have been going consistently since March of last year. It has definitely improved my life quality in ways that meditation did not. My meditation has definitely made CBT "easier" as I can identify my thought patterns much easier and more frequently than someone without any concentration training. As a result, I have been able to integrate a lot of the strategies such as introducing thoughts with more ease.

For example, I used to feel much more guilty when I would engage in pleasure seeking, unhealthy habits, or not being "where I need to be." I believe vipassana helped me realize very quickly that this was a result of my upbringing ie unreasonable expectations and not taking a second to realize when I did well. The thought pattern came from my parents not from "me" Concentration helped me recognize when those thought patterns were happening frequently and allowed me to quickly introduce counter thoughts. Metta has supplemented the whole process because self-love has made me not feel like a "messed up person" for seeking therapy. 

There are healthy ways to think about yourself and your interactions with the world and a lot of us do not learn these things/have trauama and have difficulties in daily life as a result. Some might say I am clinging to samsara and avodiing doing the real work of just sitting a bunch everyday and getting to stream entry already, but I prefer to take a more holistic approach to my life. I view it as a morality training and teaching myself how to have a healthy relationship with my self (even thought it technically doesn't exist lol) There's absolute reality and relative reality and it doesn't mean you can't work on both simultaneously. Therapy has been very valuable to me in my daily life.
Chris M, modified 3 Years ago at 1/11/21 7:32 AM
Created 3 Years ago at 1/11/21 7:32 AM

RE: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Posts: 5334 Join Date: 1/26/13 Recent Posts
Sam Gentile, modified 3 Years ago at 1/11/21 12:59 PM
Created 3 Years ago at 1/11/21 12:59 PM

RE: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Posts: 1310 Join Date: 5/4/20 Recent Posts

I have used CBT for years. I used to be much worse but CBT has been very helpful for my OCD, anxiety, and panic. My OCD used to be so bad that I felt all these sensations were heart attacks and would rush o ER. I had complete hyperchondria. CBT helped become stable and functional. I still use it in addition to my meditation.
Joshua David Lerner, modified 3 Years ago at 1/11/21 5:16 PM
Created 3 Years ago at 1/11/21 5:16 PM

RE: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Posts: 5 Join Date: 8/30/11 Recent Posts
Hi Tom,

I haven't been to see a CBT therapist, but I've been delving pretty deeply into Stoicism over the last eight years, which is what CBT is explicitly based on, in addition to having practiced various kinds of meditation for the last ~40 years. I recently read The Philosophy of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy: Stoic Philosophy as Rational and Cognitive Psychotherapy by Donald Robertson, which goes pretty heavily into the connection.

In general, I've found Stoic practices to be incredibly powerful additions to vipassana meditation, and ones which blend pretty seamlessly into the Buddhist approach. I see both of them (and therefore also CBT) as something like distant cousins, both being great-great-grandchildren of whatever kind of embryonic analytical intellectual tendencies were present in the Indo-European culture that they both descended from, before the proto-Greek and proto-Indo-Iranian groups split off from each other about 5000 years ago. And there are always suggestions and hints of cross-pollination between India, the Middle East and the Mediterranean region from the first millenia BC and earlier, so there might be several waves of later influence in addition to their cultural roots.

Theravada Buddhism (at least, to the extent I understand it) and practices like CBT that are based on Stoic practices are really complementary, because in a sense they are like mirror images of each other. Both insight meditation and Stoic exercises are cognitive and analytic practices that often involve deconstructing unskillful assumptions about our experiences, and both are embedded in a moral, ethical and metaphysical framework that help you make practical decisions about how to live in the world. But Stoicism lacks any of the sense of transcendence that you find in Buddhism; although things and events that occur in the world are seen as fleeting and temporary, the Stoics don't really see them as illusory as the Buddhists tend to, so there is less of that tension that so many people practicing Buddhism often express - "Why does it matter if I do anything in the world (go to a doctor, work on a career, etc) if it is all an illusion?"

Buddhism, on the other hand, takes the basic perceptual insights of Stoicism and really pushes them all the way to their logical limit. If you do Stoic contemplative practices, and I'm assuming the same is true of CBT, you normally push them as far as you need to to avoid or overcome the cognitive or emotional problem you are having, but not much past that. Getting good at that kind of contemplative practice for its own sake isn't really a thing for the Stoics in the way it can be in some forms of Buddhism, as far as I can tell. But doing more intensive Buddhist insight or concentration practices does seem to supercharge the effects you can get from things like Stoic (and I'm assuming CBT) exercises.

I think practices that are rooted in things like Stoicism fill an otherwise unmet need for the Western Buddhists who are attracted to it, the need to have the effects of the practice be unapologetically geared towards functioning in the relative world instead of geared towards trying to transcend it.

Metta4, modified 3 Years ago at 1/12/21 12:11 PM
Created 3 Years ago at 1/12/21 12:11 PM

RE: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Posts: 5 Join Date: 6/4/19 Recent Posts
I am a mental health practitioner who uses CBT successfully with a lot with patients, esp those with anxiey. There are seemingly 100s of *brands* of therapy ranging from the very weird to highly validated (by good research) modalities - CBT is one of, if not the most, highly validated and well established psychotherapy. Of course studies demonstrate again & again that the best predictor of positive outcomes in psychotherapy is the quality of the relationship between the patient (client) and the therapist, no matter what the "brand" of therapy.

There are some great CBT workbooks out there for anyone who wants to get a taste of it. Mind Over Mood: Change How You Feel by Changing the Way You Think is a classic in the field, now I think in 2nd edition. Costs less than $20. I have used it with my patients for almost 20 years. 

CBT seems simple conceptually, which is appealing to some and a turn off to others (who might want something "deeper"* or might not want to do the work involved). Doing it well is not a cakewalk though - you have to practice it for it to be helpful, much like with meditation actually! 

 * There is of course a very important place for therapy that does deeper work too, but the practical here & now focus of CBT is a real strength.

Glad you are getting benefit from it! I believe therapy like CBT can greatly complement meditation - it has for me!