What is CBT ?
Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a form of psychotherapy that focuses on how your thoughts, beliefs and attitudes affect your feelings and behaviour. CBT aims to teach you effective coping strategies for dealing with different problems throughout life.
One of the key tenets of CBT is that distorted thinking leads to distress and problematic behaviours, whereas thinking realistically with less negativity allows individuals to respond to challenging life circumstances in an effective way.
This therapy involves clear identification of the problem, establishing attainable goals, empathic communication, frequent feedback, reality checks, homework assignments, and teaching individuals to use learned tools to promote positive behavioural change and growth.
How does CBT work?
The purpose of cognitive behavioural therapy is to change thinking and behaviours that prevent positive outcomes.
While other forms of psychotherapy involve delving into the past to provide insight into feelings, CBT focuses on “the here and now” thoughts and beliefs. Specific skills that involve recognizing distorted thinking, modifying beliefs, relating to others in different ways are practiced, and eventually the individual can learn to behave in the desired way.
This faulty thinking, behaviours and emotions create a feedback loop unless interrupted and tested against reality. The cognitive-behavioural therapist helps the individual recognize how distorted thinking & emotions directly affect moods and behaviours and teaches how to change rigid thinking patterns.
CBT is a one on one, short-term therapy that lasts anywhere from one to twenty sessions. It is problem specific, goal oriented, and is designed to achieve remission and prevent relapse of a specific disorder.
Listed below are common interventions practiced in CBT.
• Identify problem areas
• Develop awareness of automatic thoughts
• Distinguish rational and irrational conclusions
• Stop negative thinking
• Challenge underlying assumptions
• See a situation from different perspectives
• Stop catastrophizing (thinking the worst)
• Identify what is realistic; is what you think really true?
• Test perceptions against reality
• Correct thinking so that it more closely resembles reality
• Examine the validity and usefulness of a particular thought
• Identify and modify distorted beliefs
• Enhance awareness of mood
• Keep a cognitive behavioural diary
• Gradually increase exposure to things that are feared
• Stop “mind reading” and “fortune telling” practices
• Avoid generalizations and all or nothing thinking
• Stop personalizing and taking blame
• Focus on how things are rather than how they should be
• Describe, accept, and understand rather than judge.
Throughout the treatment period, both the counsellor and the individual discuss and agree on goals and the techniques to be used. The individual must be an active participant in the treatment plan in order to see adequate results with CBT.