Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a form of talk therapy that helps you to change the way you think and act in order to feel better.
There is a lot of science behind CBT, and many mental health professionals use it to treat a variety of issues. Most commonly, it is used in the treatment of anxiety and depression. CBT tends to focus on current issues, rather than on past events.
Research shows that it may be as effective as antidepressant drugs in some cases. For many people, CBT works best when combined with other forms of therapy (as practiced by integrative therapists) and possibly medications.
How Does CBT Work?
Our thoughts, emotions, and behaviours are not independent of one another. Each of these factors — along with bodily reactions and sensations — are connected.
For example, if we think we will do poorly in an exam, then we may feel bad about ourselves, and experience low moods. These low moods are likely to affect our behaviour — including concentration, motivation to study, and sleep.
As a result, we may not do as well in the examination as we might have if we had different thoughts.
CBT aims to interrupt this cycle by replacing the negative thoughts with more positive or realistic ones. It encourages us to challenge our automatic thoughts and our deeper held beliefs about ourselves, others, and the wider world.
What Can CBT Treat?
CBT is one of the most research-backed therapies, with studies supporting its use for a variety of mental and physical issues, including:
– anger management
– eating disorders
– issues related to substance misuse
– obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
– panic disorder
– post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
– sleep problems
– stress management
People living with chronic pain conditions can also benefit from CBT as it helps them to change the way they view and experience their pain. It also enables them to find helpful coping strategies and to reduce their stress levels.
Learning CBT Techniques
Different therapists may use different CBT techniques. These can include:
– Learning about the interactions between thoughts, moods, and behaviours
– Discussing issues and alternative ways of viewing them
– Challenging negative thoughts and core beliefs
– Gradually facing fears and anxiety triggers
– Keeping a journal or worksheet of thoughts and responses
– Practicing skills between sessions
The ways in which therapists employ CBT in sessions also varies. Some therapists, for example, might take a purely CBT approach to therapy. Others may simply use CBT techniques now and then, when appropriate.
CBT and Mindfulness
Studies show that combining mindfulness and CBT may be more effective than using either alone, particularly when dealing with depression. Mindfulness may help protect people against future episodes of depression.
Of course, mindfulness offers a whole host of other benefits, including stress reduction, better concentration, and physical improvements in the structure of the brain … so it’s always worth giving it a go!
Using CBT to Enhance Wellbeing
Learning CBT techniques is a fantastic way to become aware of your thoughts, moods, and behaviours, and the interaction between all three. It is an effective therapy for depression, anxiety, and a range of other mental health issues.
Most people learn the basic CBT skills within a few sessions. When it comes to CBT, however, practice is key. Luckily, with practice, using the techniques becomes second nature for many people.
Once you begin to use these skills on a regular basis, you can reap the benefits of CBT throughout your life.
Interested in CBT? Contact me for queries and bookings.