Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is a form of therapeutic intervention that is used to tackle a range of mental health issues. Unlike behavioural therapies in the past that focused on shaping human behaviour through reinforcements and punishments, CBT works under the assumption that once we are able to change people’s thinking patterns, their problematic behaviours will soon follow. This way, when an individual comes in with overwhelming problems, the therapist can help by breaking down the problems into manageable parts.
History of CBT
When Aaron Beck first introduced the process back in the 1950s, he was working with individuals battling depression and noticed that they seemed to have a similar type of negative thought pattern. When a person with depression faces an adverse situation they will often be quick to place blame on themself and believe “this always happens to me.” Beck decided to target this thought process and aim for his patients to think more optimistically and to appraise this adverse situation in a different way. That way, they can then work on changing their behaviour and improve their mental health.
- Mood disorders: Depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder
- Eating disorders: anorexia, bulimia
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
- Substance abuse
- And more
To target the negative thinking patterns and behaviour
- Identifying maladaptive schemas
- These are the deeply ingrained thinking patterns we all possess that can often lead to maladaptive behaviours. Each person has their own unique set of schemas, developed and created by their own life experiences, which determine the way in which people interpret the world around them.
- Identifying root cause of schema
- Trauma, family history, life-changing events, etc.
- Replacing negative thinking and behaviour
- Assign “homework” such as journaling
- Goal setting
Benefits of CBT
- Gaining control
- If you are struggling with any mental illnesses, it is likely you feel powerless and rely on maladaptive behaviours to give you a sense of control. Through CBT, you will realise that although you may not be able to control every single event in your life, you can still control how you perceive them and act on such thoughts.
- Helpful with avoidance
- CBT is very useful to reduce avoidance behaviour, which is likely the cause of the endless cycle of negative thinking.
- Short time period, great results
- CBT usually requires a fewer number of sessions: between 5 and 20 depending on the specific issue. CBT is also a very effective option for those who do not require medication, but effectiveness is also dependent on compliance with treatment and motivation to get better.
Rapport with your therapist is important for therapies such as CBT and mutual understanding can help to identify what the best course for treatments are. This way clients are more likely to adhere to the goals they set for themselves.
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