unsplash image of cbt session

What Is CBT? – Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

So what is CBT? It is one of the most common therapies offered, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), which is used for a variety of conditions in psychology. It is most useful for depression and anxiety, plus research has found CBT improves the quality of life.

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I have tried cognitive therapy many years ago now and found it very helpful to me at the time. I still use some of the things I learned in my everyday life now. There is less evidence regarding other therapies and their impact on mental health; however, there is a plethora of research to back it up with CBT.

So What Is CBT?

CBT involves changing the way a person thinks about something. The belief is that certain thought patterns can be unhelpful and can be the cause of a mental health problem.

We may have learned these patterns in childhood, or it could be a new development based on an event in our lives. CBT is designed to help you re-evaluate the thought process behind the negative behaviour.

If undertaking this therapy, you will learn how to better manage your symptoms by understanding its reasons based on what you have learned about your thought process. This in itself will help you to lead a life of quality rather than being at the whims and fancies of poor mental health.

With CBT, you will increase your confidence as you learn to face your fears and instead of running away from them, you will confront them and change your thought pattern towards the fear.

a cbt counselling session

You will also learn to control your reactions. This could entail calming your mind, either via meditation or a deep breathing technique in conjunction with understanding and logically thinking about the reality of the situation.

How Will You Benefit?

The benefits of CBT can be great if you have a therapist who takes a detailed history of your background and who works closely with you. The connection you have with your therapist is important.

I can remember when I first tried CBT, the therapist I initially had was a junior. Under the supervision of the psychologist, I didn’t discover this until later, mind you. But I did change therapists as I did not gel with this person, and they appeared unsure of themselves, which did not inspire confidence.

My second therapist was assured and guided me through the process of controlling my negative thought patterns and changing my outlook.

At the time, I had been diagnosed with depression (not bipolar, that was later). It did help with getting me out of the house as I was becoming a recluse and had a fear of meeting people outside—a new development after an incident at work.

My therapist needed to instil confidence, and during the sessions, we also did role-playing, and I learned how to react to a certain situation. If my reaction was poor, we then worked on my thought process as to why this was. This was the most helpful part for me, and if you have CBT and your therapist recommends doing this, then I suggest you go for it.

CBT is not about your past, yes, they will want to know your history, but it is about you now. You cannot change things from the past. You can only deal with the problems you have now. So regardless of what happened years ago, the therapist will want to address the problems now.

The sessions usually last an hour, and you will need to practice what you have learned. The whole point is that what you and the therapist have discovered during your sessions can be applied when you are at home.

What Are The Downsides?

You have to work at it; the therapist cannot do it all for you. It can be exhausting coming out of a session; I used to be so tired, it wore me out. The more effort you put in, the greater the benefit. However, if you don’t like talking about your feelings, you may find this treatment difficult.

Because you are facing your fears and anxieties, it can in itself cause you anxiety. But this is initially as you work your way through it. You must attend all your sessions, no matter how emotionally uncomfortable they make you feel. The whole point is to move you forward, and to do that; you have to open yourself up. As the saying goes, no pain, no gain.

The treatment is about you as an individual; if you have problems within your family or workplace, it cannot impact these, only your response to the situation. If home life is making you ill, it will not affect those you live with, but it can give you the confidence to leave home or, at the very minimum, help you to calm your mind and take control over your own response.

The therapy is not for everyone, and it will not address your history, and in some cases, this is exactly what needs addressing. CBT will have a limited effect on these problems; you may find an alternative therapy is better suited. You can read through all the therapies I have written about by checking out the therapies section.

[AF] To help you relax and boost your wellbeing I recommend meditation, and Mind Place offer the latest technology to help you with this.

I hope this has helped you understand what CBT is.

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