WHAT IS COGNITIVE BEHAVIOURAL THERAPY?
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is a form of talking therapy which focuses on your thoughts, attitudes and beliefs and how they can impact on your behaviour. In doing so, it attempts to teach you certain coping skills and strategies that will help you deal with different problems in different ways.
As the name suggests, CBT is a combination of cognitive therapy, exploring the things you think, with behavioural therapy, which looks at the things you do as a consequence of that. It very much involves a combination of the two and how they work in conjunction with each other.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is a fairly short-term treatment, certainly compared to other forms of therapy. Sessions will typically last about an hour and you may need anywhere between 6 and 20+ sessions overall. Obviously, people are different, so there is no hard-and-fast rule that will apply to everyone
HOW DOES CBT WORK?
CBT aims to address and challenge how you think and feel about particular situations. By examining what you think, you can then begin to change how you behave when those situations subsequently arise. Failure to address them can result in a endless cycle of negativity, as illustrated by our lovely graphic just down there (Fig. 1).
Let's imagine for a moment that you're feeling low, feeling depressed and generally a bit rubbish.
That depressive feeling begins to impact on how you think about your life; you start to think you've let your friends or family down and you feel worthless. You become a haven of negative thinking.
Those feelings now start to manifest themselves in the behaviour you exhibit. Because you believe you've let people down, you might stay clear of them out of shame or embarrassment and isolate yourself away.
This isolation now makes your low mood even worse, which affects your thought process even more, which affects behaviour, which...etc. etc. I'm sure you get the idea. It becomes a vicious circle. CBT challenges you to think differently and to break that cycle once and for all.
Unlike other forms of therapy, CBT sessions follow a very structured pattern. They will look at your current issues and aim to deliver practical solutions you can use straight away.
WHO IS CBT FOR?
CBT can help with a range of mental illnesses including depression, anxiety, OCD, PTSD, eating disorders and schizophrenia. In fact, many people with other long-term illnesses or conditions can benefit from CBT. These include anger issues, addicts or insomniacs.
If you are looking for a therapy that has clear goals and offers practical solutions to your problems, then CBT might be for you. CBT will need you to take a proactive role in the treatment, you may even get homework!