Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) - feelya

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Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)

12 min read

What is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy?

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) encompasses techniques and interventions designed to modify unhelpful thinking patterns and maladaptive behaviours. 

We know that the way we think has an impact on how we feel and what we do, similarly, certain behaviours and activities we engage in may also impact on our mood and contribute to negative thinking. Often we don’t realise that things we do or the way we think has an impact on how we feel. 

CBT would help someone understand their own thoughts and behaviours, with the aim of breaking out of anxious or depressive cycles. Unlike other therapies, CBT focuses on the current symptoms someone is experiencing, it doesn’t go into detail as to the cause of the difficulties. CBT would address childhood and past experiences, but it is not the focus of therapy to address past events in detail.

How was Cognitive Behavioural Therapy developed?

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is simply a combination of behavioural therapy and cognitive therapy. In simple terms, behavioural meaning our actions and cognitive meaning the thoughts, emotions and feelings we experience.

Behaviourism was the dominant approach in psychology during the 1920’s through to the 1950’s. Researchers believed that people suffered from mental illness as a result of maladaptive learning from their environment. Behavioural therapy focussed on changing behaviours. 

During the late 1950’s, the tide shifted away from behaviourism, as psychologists started to understand more about the cognitive processes involved in mental illness and the effect of cognition on behaviours and emotions. As cognitive therapy lacks behavioural elements and behavioural therapy ignores the role of our thoughts, naturally, the two merged to become Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. 

How effective is CBT?

There are many studies examining the effectiveness of CBT for various disorders. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines recommend CBT for many different disorders due to the amount of evidence showing positive results. 

CBT is particularly effective for anxiety disorders, and the NICE guidelines do not recommend counselling to treat anxiety due to limited evidence. 

What happens in CBT therapy and what to expect?

Although CBT is named a talking therapy, there is less emphasis on discussion and reflection than in counselling. Instead greater emphasis is on experiments, worksheets and homework. It is practical and interactive, and you will be asked to apply the techniques you have learnt in session to your daily life.

How long should CBT Therapy last and how long does it take to work?

Sessions typically last around 45-60minutes, and you can be expected to receive anywhere between 6-20 sessions. Everyone is different, so while some people may report significant improvements early on, for others it may take a little longer to see change. Its also certainly a case of the more you put into therapy, the more you will get out of it.

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