Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a type of therapy that aims to help you manage your problems by changing how you think and act. Founded by Dr. Beck in the 1960’s, this method of psychotherapy has now revolutionized how we treat depression, anxiety, anger and similar disorders. This is accomplished by encouraging people to talk about how you think about yourself, the world and other people, It also encourages people by talking about how what you do affects your thoughts and feelings.
By talking about these things, CBT can help you to change how you think (‘cognitive’) and what you do (‘behaviour’), which can help you feel better about life.
The benefits of CBT is particularly helpful in tacking problems such as anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, eating disorders and drug misuse.
Unlike other talking treatments, such as psychotherapy, CBT focuses on the problems and difficulties you have now, rather than issues from your past. It looks for practical ways you can improve your state of mind on a daily basis.
How it works
CBT can help you to make sense of overwhelming problems by breaking them down into smaller parts.
Following from the problem, event or difficult situation are your:
- physical sensations
Proven Benefits of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
In 2012, a meta-analysis published in the Journal of Cognitive Therapy and Research identified 269 studies that supported the use of CBT for the following problems:
- substance abuse disorders.
- schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders.
- depression and dysthymia.
- manic depression/bipolar disorder.
- anxiety disorders.
- somatoform disorders.
- eating disorders.
- sleep disorders, including insomnia.
- personality disorders.
- anger and aggression.
- criminal behaviors.
- stress and distress due to general medical conditions.
- chronic fatigue syndrome.
- muscle pains and tension.
- pregnancy complications and female hormonal conditions.
Some of the characteristics that make cognitive behavioral therapy unique and effective include:
- Rational approach
- Law of entropy and impermanence
- Accepting unpleasant or painful emotions
- Questioning and expressing
- Specific agendas and techniques
CBT is usually done in a series of sessions that each have a specific goal, concept or technique to work with. Sessions are not simply for the therapist and patient to talk openly without an agenda in mind. Which leads to CBT therapists teach their clients how to better handle difficult thoughts and feelings by practicing specific techniques that can later be applied when they’re needed.
Is CBT right for me?
Before you start your CBT sessions, you will have an assessment interview. A therapist will work with you to identify what troubles you most, and if you have anxiety and/or depression.
If you do have anxiety or depression, you will be asked when it started to interfere with your family, work and social life. The therapist will also want to know about events that might have played a part in your problems, any treatments you have already had, and what goals you would like to reach through the therapy.
If CBT seems appropriate for you, the therapist will let you know what to expect from a course of treatment. If it is not appropriate, or you do not feel comfortable with it, they can recommend alternative treatments
Read my previous post on Top 3 Refreshing and Real Irish Mental Health Podcasts where I mentioned Irelands native mental health speaker, BlindBoy BoatClub, who features a three part podcast mini series where he discusses and explains how he uses CBT to overcome his anxiety and depression.