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Inside The Mind - Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

We have often it said that ‘your life is shaped by your thoughts’ and ‘what you think you become’. Knowing then the power of our thoughts, it follows then that to change our lives, we must change our thoughts.

One method that is used to help individuals change their lives through their thoughts is via cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). It is a type of talking therapy that focuses on how your thoughts, beliefs and attitudes can affect your behaviour. CBT looks at the way you think and the things you do.

The theory behind CBT is that the way we think affects the way we behave. For example, if you interpret a situation negatively, you may react negatively to the situation and have negative emotions as a result and lead you to behave in a negative way. The same applies for positive thoughts, feelings and behaviours to positive situations.

When does CBT help you?

CBT has been used for a many problems that people go through. It has been used to help those dealing with issues of anxiety, depression, phobias, stress, OCD, post-traumatic stress disorder and psychosis. More than these, it is also helpful for those who have emotional problems such as low self-esteem and/or those with a physical health problem.

How CBT works:

Cognitive behavioural therapy helps you make sense of what seems to be big, overwhelming problems by breaking them down into smaller parts that are easier to handle. The problems are broken down into five main areas:

  • The situation

  • Your thoughts

  • Emotions

  • Physical feelings

  • Actions

The model of CBT is that these five areas are interconnected and affect each other- your thoughts about a certain situation that arises can affect how you feel emotionally and physically and these in turn can affect how you react to the situation.

The goal of CBT is to stop the negative cycle and break down the situations that cause negative feelings and emotions like fear, anger or anxiety. When these are broken down into more manageable situations, you are able to change the thought patterns and make improvements to how you feel. Working with a therapist over a period of time, you are taught how to tackle these problems without the help of a therapist.

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Types of CBT:

Because of its nature of being used for many problems that people may have, there are also a number of ways that the therapy can be applied, such as:

  • Individual therapy- these are one-on-one session with a therapist

  • Group therapy- working in a group with individuals who are tackling the same problem

  • A self-help book- in this method, you work through the book with steps and exercises to help you

  • A computer program- this is known as computerised CBT (CCBT)

Aspects of CBT:

It differs from other forms of therapy because it is

  • Pragmatic- it helps identify specific problems and tries to solve them

  • Highly structured- instead of simply talking to your therapist, together you discuss specific problems and set goals to help you achieve them

  • Focused on current problems- the focus is on how you think and act instead of working on past issues

  • Collaborative- you work together with the therapist to find solutions to your problems

CBT helps you change the way you think (cognitive) and also what you do (behaviour)- these changes work together to help you feel better and achieve a positive state of mind.

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