Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is a type of psychotherapeutic treatment that helps people overcome and resolve dysfunctional parts of their personality. The is accomplished by first encouraging the person to identify the thoughts and behaviours that are at the centre of their challenges – hence the name the ‘cognitive’ behavioural therapy. A reductionist way of looking at the treatment might be to say the intention is to improve the quality of your thinking, which in turn will improve the quality of your actions.
At its heart, cognitive behavioural therapy focuses on changing – by challenging – the automatic responses you have to external stimuli and situations that drive you to play out the same outcome each and every time. Through a measured approach, you’re encouraged to explore the sponsoring thoughts the inform your behaviours, so you can actively re-write and make more conscious, mindful and ultimately more constructive decisions.
Types of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
Although CBT itself is its own standalone treatment, the actual of monitor of cognitive behavioural therapy can also be applied as something of an umbrella term that includes several other modalities that are based on a similar approach. Some therapies are a derivative of CBT, while others incorporate elements of the practice while retaining their own structure and style of delivery. Some of these include:
Cognitive Therapy: This approach is based on identifying and changing patterns of thinking that are either inaccurate, distorted, as well as emotional responses and behaviours which are in some way heightened and not in keeping with one’s desired character
Dialectal Behavioural Therapy (DBT): This addresses thoughts and behaviours that are misaligned with your desired intention while incorporating strategies such as emotional regulation and mindfulness.
Multimodal Therapy:This variant suggests that psychological issues must be treated by addressing seven different interconnected aspects of the self including: behaviour, affect, sensation, imagery, cognition, interpersonal factors, and drug/biological factors.
Rational Emotive Behavioural Therapy (REBT): This involves working to identify irrational beliefs, actively challenging them until finally, you learn to recognise the patterns at play and are able to change them of your own accord.
What Mental Health Conditions Can CBT Help With?
Cognitive behavioural therapy has been used as a short-term psychotherapeutic treatment to address a wide range of conditions. It is perhaps one of the most versatile therapies available. Here is a breakdown of some – but not all – of the conditions that would benefit most from a course of CBT.
People who suffer from addiction and substance abuse may often be struggling with negative feelings and self-perceptions that make recovery harder than it needs to be. The benefit of using a CBT approach is that it helps the individual identify and replace these self-defeating thought-constructs with ones that are more resilient and adaptive to change. This, in turn, aids the recovery process by allowing the person to improve their outlook on life be receptive to making positive, progressive and constructive changes in their behaviour.
2. Anger Issues
Anger responds incredibly well to CBT because the issue is so intertwined in both thought and behaviour. Bouts of anger that are expressed, don’t simply erupt out of nowhere; the genesis of that action begins in the mind. Thus, CBT is one of the most effective anger management therapies. During treatment, an individual can expect to undergo some form of mindfulness training, restructuring of their dysfunctional thoughts, healthy distress tolerance training, emotional regulation and empathy training and re-skilling to translate anger into assertiveness.
The main goal of CBT, when used within the context of any form of anxiety disorder, is to encourage the individual to identify irrational beliefs and thought patterns. From there, they can begin the work of replacing them with more realistic views, which will then inform how they formulate their responses to the world around them. By changing the way they think, they change the way they behave. As part of the therapy process, you can expect to address areas including, misperceptions you may have about your self-worth, guilt, embarrassment or shame about any of your previous actions, how to be more assertive, and misconceptions about others judging you.
4. Borderline Personality Disorder
While the core principles of CBT have proven effective in treating borderline personality disorder (BPD), in some areas, it still requires its own specialised approach. Thus, out of this necessity has come two unique cognitive behavioural therapies in dialectal behavioural therapy (DBT) and schema-focused therapy. Both of these approaches have proven to be effective in treating BPD and focus primarily on improving skills such as: achieving mindfulness, regulating emotions, tolerating distress or conflict, navigating relationships with other people, and achieving self-sufficiency to avoid unhealthy coping skills such as self-harm.
There has been a lot of credible evidence to support the use of CBT for depression – perhaps more so than any other mental health condition. The approach, as with many other conditions is both short-term and introspective – though not in the psychodynamic sense. With the help of a therapist, you can expect to break your reactive patterns and thought-constructs, which include – but not limited to: all-or-nothing thinking, disqualifying the positive and viewing only the negative, automatic negative reactions and persistent scolding thoughts, magnifying or minimising the importance of event and over-personalising.
6. Eating Disorders
CBTis considered to be the most effective form of therapy for bulimia nervosa. It is also recommended as the first line of treatment by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) for adults with binge eating disorder while being one of three potential avenues of treatment for those suffering from anorexia. A typical course of CBT will focus on the following components that include, challenging dietary “rules,” completion of food records, development of continuum thinking to replace all-or-nothing thinking, exposure to fear foods, meal planning and behavioural experiments to name just some of the approach taken.
About the author:
Dr Becky Spelman is a leading UK Psychologist who’s had great success helping her clients manage and overcome a multitude of mental illnesses.
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