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Cognitive Behavioural Therapy




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What is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy?

Cognitive Therapy

Our cognitive processes are our thoughts, which include our ideas, beliefs, attitudes and mental images. Cognitive therapy bases its principle around the idea that certain ways of thinking can trigger certain health problems such as anxiety, depression, phobias and the physical symptoms related to these. Our therapist can help you understand your current thought patterns and identify any harmful, unhelpful and false ideas or thoughts which you have that can trigger your health problem or make it worse. The aim is then to change your ways of thinking to avoid these ideas and to help your thought patterns be more realistic and helpful.

Behavioural Therapy

This part aims to change any behaviours that are not helpful or harmful. To do this the therapist uses various techniques. For example a particular common unhelpful behaviour is to avoid situations that can make you feel anxious. In some people with phobias this avoidance can become extreme and effect every day life. In this situation when the person is ready, the therapist may use exposure therapy whereby the person is gradually more and more exposed to the feared situation. The therapist will teach you how to control anxiety and cope when you face the feared situation by using techniques including deep breathing.

Cognitive BehaviouralTherapy (CBT)

This is a combination of cognitive and behavioural therapies. They are combined because how we behave reflects how we think about certain things or situations. The emphasis on cognitive or behavioural aspects of therapy can vary, depending on the condition being treated. For example when treating obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), where repetitive compulsive actions are the main problem, the emphasis will be more on behavioural therapy. In contrast when treating depression the emphasis will be on cognitive therapy. However, in every condition both are used to some degree due to the close link between how we think and how we behave. 

CBT is a practical therapy focusing on particular problems with the aim to overcome them. For this reason the more specific the problem, the more likely CBT can help. CBT is sometimes used alone, and sometimes used in addition to medication depending on the type and severity of the condition being treated.

What will happen during a course of CBT?

The first session of therapy is for the therapist and you to develop a shared understanding of the problem. The session will identify how your thoughts, ideas, feelings, attitudes and behaviours affect your every day life.

A treatment plan will then be agreed as well as goals to be achieved and the number of sessions you are likely to need. Each session will be 60 minutes and typically is done once a week to begin with and can be less frequent further into the treatment. The amount of sessions required will depend on the nature and severity of the condition, it is common to have between 6 and 15 session.

You will take an active part in your therapy and will be given homework between sessions. For example if you have a social phobia you may be asked to keep a diary of your occurring thoughts before a social event.

How well does CBT work?

Clinical trials have shown CBT can help ease symptoms of various health problems. The benefits of CBT can be long term rather than a quick fix as the techniques involved can be used for the rest of your life to help keep symptoms away, meaning depression and anxiety are less likely to return in the future.  

What is the difference between CBT and other talking therapies?

CBT unlike other therapies does not dwell on event in your past, it focuses more on the here and now thought processes, though some exploration may be done into the past where necessary to discover where thinking patterns may have started or come from. CBT is a structured, problem focused and practical therapy.

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