Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is arguably the most common form of psychotherapy offered by mental health professionals. Its effectiveness is strongly supported by experimental evidence, and it works on a more practical, solution-focused level than most types of therapy. The treatment is far-removed from the Freudian psychology stereotype of reclining on a sofa and jabbering about your mother. It is primarily concerned with the here and now, and past events are only addressed by the counsellor when they affect your current thought patterns or behaviours. Learning the basics about this therapy helps you determine whether it could be useful for your own or your loved one’s problem.
Although they are now rarely practiced separately, CBT is actually the marrying of two types of treatment. Cognitive therapy is concerned with the thought patterns and internal assumptions that can contribute or even cause issues such as depression, anxiety and phobias. By challenging any assumptions or recurring thoughts which are generally detrimental or otherwise unhelpful, the therapist attempts to teach the individual new ways of thinking, which then allows them to overcome or manage a specific issue more efficiently.
Behavioural therapy is very similar to cognitive therapy, except that it focuses on actions rather than thoughts. If the individual consistently practices harmful behaviours, such as avoiding situations that make them uncomfortable, this can further cement or even establish a problem. In case of a phobia, somebody may leave the room in fear when confronted with a spider. Behavioural therapy uses relaxation techniques in combination with gradual exposure to help the individual overcome the issue. By combining the similar ideas of these two treatments, CBT can address a wide range of issues through both thoughts and behaviours.
The list of conditions which a counsellor may treat using CBT is a long one, but the most common ones include drug and alcohol abuse, eating disorders, depression, post traumatic stress disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder and anxiety disorders. The specific weighting of cognitive and behavioural therapy depends on the specific condition being treated. For example, depression treatment will probably involve more cognitive therapy and obsessive compulsive disorder counselling will involve more behavioural therapy.
The first session of CBT is primarily to allow the counsellor and the individual to talk about the issue and how it affects the person’s life. After the therapist has gained a general understanding of the problem, he or she will work with the individual to develop a goal-focused treatment plan. Sessions usually last around an hour, and will often be accompanied by homework for the individual to complete for the next meeting. Weekly CBT sessions ordinarily run for around 10 to 15 weeks, but could be more or less depending on the individual’s needs. Any form of psychotherapy should have a flexible length in this way, because the specific condition and its severity can vary wildly.
If you or your loved one is struggling with psychological problems, therapy using the cognitive behavioural approach is one of the most effective treatments you can receive for numerous conditions. It is consistently demonstrated to have positive outcomes, and is also extremely empowering to the individual because it allows them to take control of their own thoughts and behaviour. If you have any questions about CBT, or want to gain a better understanding of your situation and treatment requirements, we’re here to help you. We provide a professional and friendly advice on any issue which relates to psychotherapy. Get in touch with us today and see what we can do for you!
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