For this months blog I wanted to provide a straight forward, easy to understand summary of what CBT is, how CBT got its name and how it can you help you.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy can sometimes be off putting for clients seeking out counselling due to its complicated name. I would like to take the time to fully explain why this therapy was deemed Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.
Cognitive is another word for thoughts. Over 5000 thoughts pass through our minds each day, these thoughts can be either positive or negative. The problem occurs when these thoughts are repeatedly negative. Thoughts such as ‘I look so ugly’ when looking into a mirror, ‘I am never going to learn all this information because I am stupid’, when sitting in a lecture, can sorely impact our mood and we are not even aware we are doing it. These negative thoughts are known as negative automatic thoughts or NATS.
Continuing on through the title of CBT, the behavioural label is self-explanatory. If we take the example of the previously stated thought ‘I am never going to learn all this information because I am stupid’, this can lead to behaviour of leaving the lecture theatre, thus missing the lecture and perhaps failing the test at the end of the week, confirming the initial thought that ‘I am stupid’, and perhaps resulting in feelings of low mood or anxiety and the individual does not know why. CBT aids the client to discover the initial thought, that they may not have even been aware of and enables them to interject the thought, thus stopping the dysfunctional behaviour and leading to a more positive outcome.
CBT aims to identify the clients negative feelings and assumptions, which may not even be known to the client and encourage them to examine his or hers negative thoughts and assumptions to determine if they are true and realistic, and thus, change their behaviour accordingly.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is a goal orientated, short-term treatment in which a therapist and a client work collaboratively to solve a client’s problematic thinking and behaviour in order to resolve difficulties and change the clients negative emotions.
CBT is considered short term because treatment occurs over eight to twelve sessions, at a frequency of about one per week, in which the client visits the therapist for about 50 minutes per session.
CBT is a goal-orientated therapy in which the client comes to the therapist with problems (represented in a problem list) that they need help resolving. Collaboratively, the therapist and client work through an alliance to examine the strategies and thought processes that will lead to desirable solutions or steps toward improvement in the clients thinking and behaviour.
In summary, CBT can be a practical, useful and effective approach to help clients battling emotional disorders that wish to take a collaborative role in recovery rather than merely sitting and talking about your week. According to the National Health Service, CBT has proven to be the most effective approach in anxiety, panic attacks, depression, PTSD, OCD, alongside difficulties such as low self-esteem and relationship difficulties. It requires identifying repetitive and negative thoughts, feelings and behaviours and sometimes placing oneself in vulnerable scenarios to put an end to and overcome a cycle that may be holding them back from living a more fulfilled life.