Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is a type of therapy that can help with a multitude of different problems. It is usually used by a counsellor or psychotherapist to help a patient deal with problems to do with behaviour that is caused by unhelpful thoughts or feelings. As a more ‘pro-active’ approach to therapy it has shown impressive results and is being used more often in the treatment of many disorders.

What is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)

CBT is a way of talking about the way you feel in certain situations to help you change the way you think and react. It tackles the problems arising from the way you think (cognitive) and the way you act (behavioural). Where other talking therapies try to deal with the causes of your distress, CBT aims to change the way you behave during your distress.

Which disorders can it help?

CBT helps when your negative reactions are caused by thoughts or feelings, such as:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Panic attacks
  • Phobias
  • Social disorders
  • Stress
  • Eating disorders
  • Obsessive compulsive disorder
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Bi-polar disorder
  • Anger
  • Low self esteem

There have also been cases where CBT has helped in treating physical pains and fatigue where these have underlying mental causes.

How does it Work?

By talking through the thoughts and feelings that you experience at a time of distress, a therapist can help you break down the separate parts of the experience so that they can be dealt with individually. These parts are usually separated into:

An Experience

This could be a difficult situation, a trigger or another event that starts the problem. For example; if you were suffering with anger problems this could be an unpleasant remark from someone you know which would usually lead to you becoming aggressive. But, in order to stop you becoming aggressive, and therefore continuing the cycle of anger, CBT involves taking each reaction in turn to help you in future situations. From the experience follows:

Your Thoughts

On hearing the remark you may think that the person was intentionally trying to offend you or that they were antagonising you. These thoughts could also include paranoid thoughts such as believing that everyone is out to get at you. During a CBT session you might be taught to stop and think in a different way; such as to question why they made the comment. Maybe the other person was having a bad day and had unintentionally taken it out on you or, upon analysing the remark, you may realise that it was made in jest or their tone of voice was sarcastic. Your thoughts in turn influence:

Your Feelings

If you had thought the remark offensive, you may then feel hurt, perturbed and angry. CBT would help in changing these feelings to those of concern for the other person as they may be having a bad day. By changing the way you thought about the remark you would have different feelings about it which in turn would then effect:

Your Actions

If normally you would have acted in an aggressive or violent way to the remark, thinking about your thoughts and feelings could change the way you act. Your actions being changed by the way you thought and felt about the experience could lead you to not becoming violent, therefore creating a successful coping strategy for future situations.

How to find out more

If you believe that Cognitive Behavioural Therapy could help you as part of your mental health treatment then discuss it with your medical professional. It is likely that if you would benefit from it then they would raise the possibility with you and may refer you to a specialist in the field. It is important that you talk through any apprehensions or concerns about CBT with your medical professional as this may impede its effectiveness.