Awareness is the precursor to change. When we become aware of what we are thinking and how we are behaving , including the motivation behind our thoughts and behaviors, we can take steps toward positive change that help us cope with or even transcend anxiety, depression, chronic stress, and other states of emotional dysregulation.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is a "top down" approach to healing in which the therapist helps the client increase awareness of thoughts and behaviors that lead to anxiety, depression or emotional dysregulation. It is a "top down" approach because the therapist is helping the client access areas in the brain (the "top" parts) that are associated with thinking, speaking, and awareness. Through accessing this part of the brain and teaching clients ways to "catch" his or her thinking patterns and automatic behavioral responses, the client empowers him/herself to change the negative thinking and behaviors, thus impacting the emotional regulation centers in the bottom part of the brain.
Marcel Proust states, "The voyage of discovery is not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes." Have you ever wondered how two people can have the same experience, yet they feel differently about it. One may feel exuberance and the other anxiety. I have some friends who went scuba diving and found themselves in a rip current. They had both been previously warned of the dangers of getting caught in a rip current yet, here they were! The woman was filled with excitement. She thought "Well, here we go!" She relaxed into the current and moved her arms along with it. She looked over at her husband who was flailing against the current with a panicked look on his face. He was thinking "We are going to be slammed into a coral reef and die!" Two people had the same experience, yet they perceived the experience differently and, in turn, had different emotional responses. Thus, the voyage of discovery (of peace) is not necessarily in seeking new landscapes (a new experience, or new life, or new wife, or new whatever), but in having new eyes (a new way of perceiving what is). The goal of CBT to develop alternative perspectives that allow us to relax into "what is" so that we discover peace.
Research shows CBT to be very effective in treating anxiety, depression, OCD, ADHD, and other mental health issues, especially when combined with Mindful Self-Compassion. In CBT, the client and the therapist take an active approach to problem-solving and both parties maintain awareness of the goal. CBT is a structured therapy, meaning there is a general treatment format that the counselor follows in helping the client solve his/her problem. The standard course of treatment for CBT is approximately 12 weeks.
Although CBT and other top-down approaches are effective, more and more research indicates that bottom-up approaches may be more effective, especially in treating trauma or old emotional wounds. In "bottom up" approaches, such as Brainspotting, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, and Somatic Re-experiencing, the therapist assists the client with accessing the emotional regulation system in the "bottom" of the brain, such as in the limbic system and nervous system. Through accessing the limbic and nervous systems, the client is able to reprocess the event, reset, and release.
Top-down therapy suggests that we can change how we feel if we change how we think. Bottom-up therapy suggests that our thoughts and behaviors are affected by the emotional residue stored in our limbic system and bodies. Oasis integrates top-down and bottom-up approaches to maximize healing and growth.