Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)
CBT therapists emphasize what is going on in the person’s current life, rather than what has led up to their difficulties. A certain amount of information about one’s history is needed, but the focus is primarily on moving forward in time to develop more effective ways of coping with life.
What Is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy?
Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a form of psychological treatment that has been demonstrated to be effective for a range of problems including depression, anxiety disorders, alcohol and drug use problems, marital problems, eating disorders and other mental problems.
Numerous research studies suggest that CBT leads to significant improvement in functioning and quality of life. In many studies, CBT has been demonstrated to be as effective as, or more effective than, other forms of psychological therapy or psychiatric medications.
It is important to emphasize that advances in CBT have been made on the basis of both research and clinical practice. Indeed, CBT is an approach for which there is ample scientific evidence that the methods that have been developed actually produce change. In this manner, CBT differs from many other forms of psychological treatment.
CBT is based on several core principles, including:
- Psychological problems are based, in part, on faulty or unhelpful ways of thinking.
- Psychological problems are based, in part, on learned patterns of unhelpful behaviour.
- People suffering from psychological problems can learn better ways of coping with them, thereby relieving their symptoms and becoming more effective in their lives.
CBT treatment usually involves efforts to change thinking patterns.
These strategies might include:
- Learning to recognize your distortions in thinking that are creating problems, and then to re-evaluate them in light of reality.
- Gaining a better understanding of the behaviour and motivation of others.
- Using problem-solving skills to cope with difficult situations.
- Learning to develop a greater sense of confidence is one’s own abilities.
CBT treatment also usually involves efforts to change behavioural patterns. These strategies might include:
- Facing your fears instead of avoiding them.
- Using role playing to prepare for potentially problematic interactions with others.
- Learning to calm your mind and body.
If you can change your thinking patterns, you will change your behaviour!
What can you learn?
During a course of CBT, a person can learn to:
- identify problems more clearly
- develop an awareness of automatic thoughts
- challenge underlying assumptions that may be wrong
- distinguish between facts and irrational thoughts
- understand how past experience can affect present feelings and beliefs
- stop fearing the worst
- see a situation from a different perspective
- better understand other people’s actions and motivations
- develop a more positive way of thinking and seeing situations
- become more aware of their own mood
- establish attainable goals
- avoid generalizations and all-or-nothing thinking
- stop taking the blame for everything
- focus on how things are rather than how they think they should be
- face their fears rather than avoid them
- describe, accept, and understand rather than judge themselves or others