Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
What is CBT?
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy also commonly known as CBT is a form of psychotherapy aimed at understanding and dealing with a patient’s beliefs so as to change the way they think and how they react to the things happening around them. CBT treatment is based on the concept that our thoughts (cognition), feelings (emotions) and actions (behavior) are all interconnected. How we think influences our feelings and determines how we act.
CBT was originally developed and is commonly used for the treatment of depression and anxiety. It, however, can be applied in the treatment of other physical and mental health problems such as eating disorders and phobias.
The History of CBT
The existence of CBT as we know it today is credited back to the psychiatrist Aaron Beck. In the 1960s while doing his psychoanalysis, Beck observed that his patients seemed to have internal dialogues during the analytical sessions but would not fully disclose to him about the conversations they had in their minds.
Through his research, he discovered that there is an important link between thoughts and feelings. Beck realized that people may not always be aware of their emotion-filled thoughts but could be taught to identify and vocalize them. Aaron Beck realized that the answer to his patients’ understanding and dealing with their problems was in identifying and reporting on their negative emotion-filled thoughts.
CBT treatment application is however not a single therapeutic technique. Rather, CBT is an umbrella term that groups a number of different therapy approaches with common elements. The most prominent approaches include:
• Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy
• Rational Behavior Therapy
• Dialectical Behavior Therapy
• Rational Living Therapy
• Cognitive therapy
• Multimodal Therapy
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy treatment is a very goal-directed form of talking therapy. It helps patients deal with a specific problem, emphasizes more on current situations and does not delve so much into the past. A full course CBT treatment runs from between 5 to 20 sessions. A typical session with a therapist should take about half an hour to an hour. Here is what you can expect in CBT sessions.
i. Your therapist will work with you to identify the problems you would like to address, then break each of them down into smaller parts and fit them into the categories of either thoughts, emotions or actions.
ii. Next, you will help your therapist determine the effect your problems have on each other as well as on you. This will enable your therapist to identify the unrealistic or unhelpful thoughts and behavior you need to change to allow you to deal with your problems.
iii. You and your therapist will develop the changes you need to make and the skills to adopt. Together, create a plan on how to factor in these changes in your daily life then you will be tasked to put them into practice.
iv. The subsequent sessions with your therapist will be to discuss your progress, evaluate the impact the changes have made in your life and work on managing your emotions, thoughts, and behavior.
Pros of CBT
CBT treatment has the following advantages:
1. Compared to other talking therapies CBT can be completed in a relatively shorter period.
2. Because of its highly structured nature, CBT treatment can be offered in various formats such as self-help books, computer programs, and group sessions.
3. CBT aims to equip patients with practical skills and techniques to be used in everyday life that will help you process and cope with your problems positively, even after completion of treatment.
4. CBT treatment helps patients develop beliefs and attitudes that are flexible and self-empowering towards themselves, others and their environment to assist in overcoming depression and anxiety.
Cons of CBT
The success of CBT treatment is highly dependent on the patient’s ability to change their thoughts, feelings, and actions. Thus a high level of commitment is required to get the most out of the process, which not always possible for everyone.
CBT sessions mostly involve the therapist giving the patient tasks to be completed between sessions. This may be time-consuming for some patients and may slow down their progress in the treatment.