Cognitive Behavioural Therapy Explained | How CBT works?
Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT), is a form of mental health therapy that helps people rewire their negative thoughts, feelings & behaviours to become happier and live a more fulfilled life.
Cognitive Behavior Therapy or CBT is a form of talk therapy that can treat people with a wide range of mental health problems.
CBT is derived from the idea that how we think (cognition), how that makes us feel (emotion) equals how we act (behaviour) all interact together.
What is Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT)?
CBT focuses on how peoples thoughts, beliefs, and attitudes affect their feelings, behaviours and ultimately the actions to their way of life. It aims to help restructure and change the way a person thinks and behaves.
Cognitive behaviour therapists base CBT on the theory that problems arise from the meanings people give to events, as well as the emotions or feelings that steams from the meaning behind the events themselves.
CBT is based on three leading principles, including:
- Psychological challenges are based, in part, on faulty or unhelpful ways of thinking and actions.
- Psychological challenges are based, in part, on learned patterns of unhelpful behaviour.
- People suffering from psychological challenges and problems can learn to better cope with mental health problems using CBT methods, thereby relieving their symptoms and becoming more effective in their lives.
What are the different types of CBT?
There are two main types of CBT: cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT). These therapies both focus on thoughts, feelings, and behaviours.
- Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) identifies and changes inaccurate or distorted thinking patterns, emotional responses, and behaviours.
- Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) is a modified form of CBT uniquely developed to treat borderline personality disorder. The approach is dialectical because it involves the interaction of two conflicting ideas, both acceptance and change. It uses traditional cognitive behavioural techniques and implements other skills like mindfulness, acceptance, and tolerating distress.
When CBT Is Most Useful
Research shows that Cognitive behavioural therapy sessions can offer support to people suffering from various mental health conditions and can be effective in treating a range of psychological problems, including:
- Anxiety disorders and social phobia and
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Low self-esteem
- Irrational fears
- Anger and Stress
- Eating disorders
- Alcohol and drug use problems
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
- Bipolar disorder
- Sleep disorders
- Marital problems and other Relationship Issues
- Child or Teen behavioural problems
Using Cognitive Behaviour Therapy for Anxiety
Everyone feels anxious sometimes, and it is perfectly normal for people to feel anxious. It is paramount to understand that anxiety can actually serve us to protect our life. It helps us feel a sense of awareness and acts as protection and warning with our emotions in stressful situations.
For example, the feeling of anxiety can occur before an unknown event unfolds or what beliefs you are having of the future of that event to what you can’t control. Basically, a sense of uncertainty and the fear from it.
But for most people that suffer from anxiety on an ongoing basis, the feeling of fear & stress is more general and can be easily triggered.
This means you may always feel, act and live in fear and the feelings of this can often cause you to be stressed, no matter what activities you are doing or thinking of doing. If you are consistently living in stress and acting in fear (Anxiety), these emotions and thoughts can be highly toxic for your health, your way of life and how you aim to live it.
Suppose your level of anxiety begins to impact your ability to function, or you often live in fear of the unknown for even the little things. In that case, you must start to discover and use the best methods to cope with the feelings of being anxious and stressed. This is where cognitive behavioural therapy sessions can help you create change by focusing on what is causing you to feel stressed and the meanings you have given to it that makes you feel anxiety (emotions) from your current triggers.
Using Cognitive Behaviour Therapy for Depression
People suffering from depression can have persistent negative feelings & thoughts about themselves, other people in their lives and the world around them to how they live. These negative thinking patterns can become automatic, so people suffering from depression aren’t always conscious of these everyday thoughts. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) can support people with depression by giving them the tools and methods to change their
negative thoughts from within and change them with more positive thoughts and realistic positive outcomes.
CBT is also used to support many more psychological challenges depending on the situation and events of that person. In other cases, other forms of mental health therapies can be used in conjunction and may be recommended for better and quicker results. If in doubt about the ideal methods for your mental health problems, discuss this with your doctor for further advice and information.
CBT and thoughts, feelings and behaviours
The primary focus of CBT is that the thoughts, feelings and behaviours will combine to influence a person’s quality of life and their future off it. For example, socially awkward people in social situations (social phobia) may come from a negative thought of what other people think of them and if they will be accepted or rejected in social situations. This belief can cause that person to feel extremely anxious when with people or new people. This can also lead to particular behavioural patterns in social situations, such as loss of words, stuttering, uncontrolled movement/ twitching, nail-biting, picking skin or lint and other uncomfortable symptoms and actions. This resulting in the person feeling awkward, overwhelmed and triggered with negative emotions (such as shame) and negative thoughts, ‘I’m too weird & they won’t accept me’. Their beliefs and thoughts of social situations could also become heighten with every bad experience they have.
CBT aims to educate people that it is possible to have control over their thoughts, feelings and behaviours. CBT helps the personal challenge and overcome automatic beliefs, and use practical strategies to change or modify their behaviour. The result is more positive feelings, which in turn lead to more positive thoughts and behaviours.
Six Big Benefits of CBT
- CBT has been proven to be an effective long-term mental health treatment for numerous mental health conditions.
- Cognitive behavioural therapy is currently one of the most popular forms of mental health treatments that can quickly assist with anxiety, depression, PTSD and chronic pain.
- CBT has been reported to be most effective even after a person has stopped going to their therapist.
- Cognitive behavioural therapy can help people prevent relapses and recurrence once the treatments have finished.
- Cognitive behavioural therapy is a short-term, low-intensity treatment that aims to help people get rid of their negative thoughts.
- Cognitive behavioural therapy works to change your thoughts quickly, which leads to how you feel and act. This leads to CBT being more cost-effective in the long run vs other mental health treatments which take years to get a result ADM treatment.
Treatment with CBT
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is more than about identifying problematic thought patterns; it’s focused on using a wide range of strategies & methods to help people overcome these disempowering thoughts.
The details of treatment will vary according to the person’s problems and how deep they stem.
However, CBT typically includes the following steps:
- Assessment – this includes filling out an online questionnaire before your session to help discover & describe your particular problems and pinpoint distressing symptoms. You will then be asked to complete a new client form before our first session. You also may be asked to complete a client progress form so that you and your Cognitive Behavioral Therapist can plot your progress and identify problems or symptoms that need extra attention.
- Goal setting – your therapist, helps you draw up a list of goals you wish to achieve from therapy (for example, you may want to overcome your shyness in social settings). You and your therapist work out practical strategies and methods for you to reach your goals.
- Practise strategies – you practise your new methods with your therapist. For example, you may role-play difficult situations or realistic self-talk (how you communicate to yourself in your mind) to replace unhealthy or negative self-talk.
- Take Homework – to ensure your success with your CBT treatment. You may be given and expected to participate in home tasking with your own therapy activity exercises. You are encouraged to use the practical strategies you are given and have practised during the course of your daily life. We then request you to report your results to your therapist. For example, your therapist may ask you to keep a daily thoughts journal.
Not all CBT will use all of these strategies. Instead, you and your cognitive behavioural therapist will work together collaboratively. This will help develop an understanding of the problems, future ideal results and develop a customised treatment strategy for your success.
CBT therapists emphasise 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.
How does cognitive behavioural therapy sessions work?
The sessions work by changing problematic behaviours through the use of a combination of behavioural therapy and cognitive therapy. This is the time for the therapist and client to work through the problems faced in life.
In CBT sessions, clients talk about their past experiences and how they feel about them. The individual’s willingness to make a change is also a crucial factor. In cognitive restructuring, a patient is taught to identify negative reactive thoughts and modify them.
- The therapist helps them to see their emotions in a different light.
- Next, the client and therapist discuss how they can change their thoughts and behaviours in order to improve their lives.
- During the sessions, clients are encouraged to think about their previous experiences and how they might have handled them differently.
- The therapist works with the client to find a solution that would have been more positive.
CBT and Prescription Medication
Prescription medication is not always needed with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. CBT can be as effective as medication in the treatment of depression and anxiety. In other cases depending on the symptoms you experience, you and your therapist may decide that medication, together with CBT, would produce the best results. For example, people with bipolar disorder usually benefit from medication that helps control their mood swings. This should be discussed with your GP and a medical license
Who provides CBT?
Counsellors, psychologists and therapists can all provide CBT, either in one-on-one therapy sessions, small groups or online counselling.
Cognitive behaviour therapists are trained to look logically at the evidence for their negative thoughts and to adjust the way they view the world around them.
Your Cognitive Behavioral Therapist will provide ‘homework’ for between sessions. Generally, three to 7 sessions are required to get results but the number will vary from person to person.
Issues to consider before choosing CBT
Before choosing CBT, issues you may like to consider include:
- CBT may not be the best form of therapy for people with any type of brain disease, an injury that impairs their rational thinking or depending on the type of prescription medication. As CBT can involve confronting your emotions and anxieties, you may experience periods where you are more anxious or emotionally uncomfortable until the therapy is effective.
- CBT requires you to actively participate in the treatment process. For example, you may be asked to keep notes in a diary on your thoughts, feelings and behaviours. If you are not prepared to put in the work and effort, you will be disappointed with the results of your CBT treatment.
- CBT involves a close working relationship between you and your cognitive behavioural therapist. Professional trust and mutual respect are paramount to the relationship with your cognitive behavioural therapist and the outcome of your treatment.
- . If you don’t like the therapist at the first interview, look for another one as finding a cognitive behavioural therapist that fits your liking is important
- While CBT is considered a short-term form of psychotherapy, it may still take months or longer for you to successfully challenge and overcome unhealthy patterns of thinking and unwanted behaviour. CBT may disappoint you if you are looking for a ‘quick fix’ and this is not something we promote.
How to Get Started With Cognitive Behaviour Therapy
Cognitive behaviour therapy can be an effective treatment choice for a range of mental health issues. If you feel that you or someone you love may benefit from this form of therapy, consider the following steps:
Consult with your private physician and ask for their recommendations. You can also research online for yourself and check out online reviews from past clients.
Consider your personal preferences, including whether face-to-face or online therapy will work best for you and your current situation.
Contact your private health insurance company to see if they cover CBT, and if so, how many sessions they cover with your plan.
When coming to us for the first time, expect your initial experience to be similar to visiting a new local medical practice, including filling out paperwork such as a new client intake form, insurance information (if needed), past mental health history, current medications, a questionnaire about your symptoms and what is happening, and a new client service agreement.
If you’re participating in online therapy, you’ll likely fill out these forms online.
Be prepared to answer questions about what brought you to therapy now, your current symptoms, and your history, including your childhood, career, relationships (family, romantic, friends), current living situation.
If you are ready now to start your journey with Cognitive Behaviour Therapy and ready to start living your life on your terms, your first step is to schedule a free discovery session call below.