Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)
Cognitive behavioral therapy can be thought of as a combination of psychotherapy and behavioral therapy.
Psychotherapy emphasizes the importance of the personal meaning we place on things and how thinking patterns begin in childhood. Behavioral therapy pays close attention to the relationship between our problems, our behavior and our thoughts.
Most psychotherapists who practice CBT personalize and customize the therapy to the specific needs and personality of each patient.
How CBT works
CBT is based on the idea that your thoughts, your feelings, physical sensations and your actions are all interconnected, and that your negative thoughts and feelings can trap you in damaging habits and behaviours.
It is a short-term, goal-oriented psychotherapy treatment that takes a hands-on, practical approach to problem-solving. It is used to help treat a wide range of issues in a person’s life, from sleeping difficulties or relationship problems, to drug and alcohol abuse or anxiety and depression.
An important advantage of cognitive behavioral therapy is that it tends to be short, taking five to ten months for most emotional problems. You will usually see a therapist weekly or every two weeks until the issue is resolved. CBT works to help you deal with problems that are overwhelming you by breaking them down into smaller, more manageable parts. You learn how to change these negative patterns to improve the way you feel and think.
Unlike some other talking treatments, CBT deals primarily with the present problems in your life, rather than focusing on issues from your past.
What to expect
During the sessions, you’ll work with your therapist to break down your problems into their separate parts, such as your thoughts, physical feelings and actions. You and your therapist will analyse these areas to work out if they’re unrealistic or unhelpful, and to determine the effect they have on each other and on you. Your therapist will then be able to help you work out how to change unhelpful thoughts and behaviours.
After working out what you can change, your therapist will ask you to practise these changes in your daily life and you’ll discuss how you got on during the next session.
The tools and principles that you and your therapist explore and develop can be carried with you throughout your life.