Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a type of psychotherapeutic treatment that helps you understand the thoughts and feelings that influence behaviours. CBT is commonly used to treat a wide range of concerns including but not limited to phobias, addictions, depression, and anxiety.
Cognitive behaviour therapy is generally short-term and focused on helping clients deal with a very specific problem. During the course of treatment, people learn how to identify and change destructive or disturbing thought patterns that have a negative influence on behaviour and emotions.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy Basics
The underlying concept behind CBT is that our thoughts and feelings play a fundamental role in our behaviour. For example, a person who spends a lot of time thinking about plane crashes, runway accidents and other air disasters may find themselves avoiding air travel.
The goal of cognitive behaviour therapy is to teach patients that while they cannot control every aspect of the world around them, they can take control of how they interpret and deal with things in their environment.
Cognitive behaviour therapy has become increasingly popular in recent years with both mental health consumers and treatment professionals. Because CBT is usually a short-term treatment option, it is often more affordable than some other types of therapy. iCounsellors find that CBT is extremely helpful online.
CBT is also empirically supported and has been shown to effectively help patients overcome a wide variety of maladaptive behaviours.
Automatic Negative Thoughts
One of the main focuses of cognitive-behavioural therapy is on changing the automatic negative thoughts that can contribute to and exacerbate emotional difficulties, depression, and anxiety.
These negative thoughts spring forward spontaneously, are accepted as true, and tend to negatively influence the individual’s mood.
Through the CBT process, patients examine these thoughts and are encouraged to look at evidence from reality that either supports or refutes these thoughts. By doing this, people are able to take a more objective and realistic look at the thoughts that contribute to their feelings of anxiety and depression. By becoming aware of the negative and often unrealistic thoughts that dampen their feelings and moods, people are able to start engaging in healthier thinking patterns.
The Components of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy
People often experience thoughts or feelings that reinforce or compound faulty beliefs. Such beliefs can result in problematic behaviours that can affect numerous life areas, including family, romantic relationships, work, and academics.
For example, a person suffering from low self-esteem might experience negative thoughts about his or her own abilities or appearance. As a result of these negative thinking patterns, the individual might start avoiding social situations or pass up opportunities for advancement at work or at school.
In order to combat these destructive thoughts and behaviours, a iCounselling counsellor begins by helping you to identify the problematic beliefs. This stage, known as functional analysis, is important for learning how thoughts, feelings, and situations can contribute to maladaptive behaviours. The process can be difficult, especially for patients who struggle with introspection, but it can ultimately lead to self-discovery and insights that are an essential part of the treatment process.
The second part of cognitive behaviour therapy focuses on the actual behaviours that are contributing to the problem. You begin to learn and practice new skills that can then be put in to use in real-world situations. For example, a person suffering from drug addiction might start practicing new coping skills and rehearsing ways to avoid or deal with social situations that could potentially trigger a relapse.
It can take time for change
In most cases, CBT is a gradual process that helps a person take incremental steps towards a behaviour change. Someone suffering from social anxiety might start by simply imagining himself in an anxiety-provoking social situation.
Next, the client might start practicing conversations with friends, family, and acquaintances. By progressively working toward a larger goal, the process seems less daunting and the goals easier to achieve.
CBT is one of the most researched types of therapy, in part because treatment is focused on highly specific goals and results can be measured relatively easily. Cognitive behaviour therapy is also well-suited for people looking for a short-term treatment option for certain types of emotional distress that does not necessarily involve psychotropic medication. One of the greatest benefits of cognitive-behaviour therapy is that it helps clients develop coping skills that can be useful both now and in the future.