Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of psychotherapeutic treatment that helps people learn how to identify and change destructive or disturbing thought patterns that have a negative influence on their behaviour and emotions. Through CBT, these thoughts are identified, challenged, and replaced with more objective, realistic thoughts. Many experts consider CBT to be the gold standard of psychotherapy.
Core Concepts of CBT
CBT is largely based on the idea that your thoughts, emotions, and actions are connected. In other words, the way you think and feel about something can affect what you do. If you’re under a lot of stress at work, for example, you might see situations differently and make choices you wouldn’t ordinarily make. But another key concept of CBT is that these thought and behavior patterns can be changed.
Normally, the therapy takes 8–12 sessions where the patient and therapist work together to identify problem thoughts and behaviors. With that as a reference, the therapist will equip the patient with tools and techniques to change the way they think, feel, or behave in the situation.
So, how does one go about reworking these patterns? CBT involves the use of many techniques. Your therapist will work with you to find those that work best for you. The goal of these techniques is to replace unhelpful or self-defeating thoughts with more encouraging and realistic ones.
For example, “I’ll never have a lasting relationship” might become, “None of my previous relationships have lasted very long.” Reconsidering what I really need from a partner could help me find someone I’ll be compatible with long term. “
These are some of the most popular techniques used in CBT:
- SMART goals
- Guided discovery and questioning
- Cognitive restructuring
- Thought recording
- Positive activities
- Situation exposure
CBT is efficient and definitely better than not doing anything about our mental health. Today, CBT is one of the most well-studied forms of treatment and has been shown to be effective in the treatment of a range of mental conditions, including anxiety, depression, eating disorders, insomnia, obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and substance use disorders.
Interested in becoming a counsellor and learning the CBT approach? Aventis School of Management offers a Graduate Diploma in Psychotherapy and Counselling for those without any backgrounds in psychology or counselling, or the Master of Arts in Integrative Counselling and Psychotherapy for those with relevant qualifications and working towards being a certified counsellor/psychotherapist.
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Using Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) to Combat Depression