Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is the gold therapeutic treatment for most mental health disorders. CBT is effective, short-term (between 8 and 16 sessions) and goal oriented. During treatment, clients learn strategies to change the perspectives that make them feel sad, angry or anxious and look at the whole picture in a more realistic way.
Therapist and client become a team that works together and collaborates to discover what are the thinking ways keeping the client stuck in negative cycles. Once they identify this, they start using strategies to shift these thinking patterns into more positive and productive ones.
In Cognitive Behavioural Therapy or CBT, we ask the client to decide what goals he/she would like to achieve by the end of treatment so results can be measured. People feel excited to see that they are working towards their goal and it motivates them to practice the learnings between sessions. A CBT session usually consists of a psycho-educational part followed by a part where the client uses the new learnings and applies them to their personal situation, during which they frequently have insights about unwanted patterns. Finally, there is a summary of the session and homework is agreed between therapist and client to practice what has been learned.
During the CBT treatment, clients work closely with their therapist to learn specific skills and techniques to:
- Increase their understanding of emotional and mental experiences
- Identify patterns of problematic behaviour
- Bring a sense of control to challenging situations
- Achieve a sense of competence and self-confidence
- Work on future difficulties to limit the potential for relapse after treatment
CBT is a very active treatment with different approaches (protocols) for different problems. For example, when we are depressed, we feel sad, tired and unmotivated to do the things we used to enjoy. The first step in the CBT treatment would be to help the person to start doing something that he or she enjoys at his or her own pace. And step by step, as he or she builds towards becoming more active and engaged with life, the client will feel better with him/herself, others and will feel better about the world too.
If a person is looking to get help in dealing with their anxiety, we will teach them ways to challenge the unrelenting worries, exercises to relax and do experiments so they can try out things to challenge these worries. The therapist is an ally in the process and takes the hand of the client so it does not feel so hard to do. We all need help to learn new things that we do not know, but after we learn, it feels easier to do.
Research shows that Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is the most successful way to change dysfunctional patterns and introduce new habits. Learning, practicing and receiving rewards for the new behaviour will help us change towards the direction that will make us feel more content with ourselves. When we start doing things differently, the people around us will notice it and benefit as much as ourselves. This applies for people who are depressed and start taking action, people with anxiety that apply the strategies to relax and talk themselves out of their preoccupations and people with chronic anger that starts to respond differently, in a more gentle way.
CBT treatment sessions run approximately 50 minutes in length, and are typically weekly at the beginning and continue every 2 weeks later. A usual course of treatment lasts from eight to 16 sessions. The ultimate goal is to teach the clients to be their own therapists and by the end of therapy be equipped with the tools to help themselves and possibly to prevent relapse. If you are struggling with a behaviour that you or the people around you do not like, give CBT a chance! You do not have much to lose and you have a lot to win. In just a few sessions, you will learn a lot and start applying it right away in your life. How would your life be if you could act in a way that made you feel satisfied, made others feel good and left you feeling with a sense of inner peace? This is what Cognitive Behavioural Therapy can help you achieve.