What is CBT and How Does it Work?

Psychologist with a male client in a therapy session

 

Cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) is a versatile approach to psychological treatment that can be applied to a diverse range of mental disorders and conditions. It can help patients reframe negative thought processes to overcome a variety of challenges relating to disordered thinking. Here’s what you need to know about this form of therapy and how it might be able to help you or someone you love.

What Is Cognitive Behaviour Therapy?

CBT is a unique approach to therapy that is based on the premise that negative thoughts, beliefs and behaviours can have major impacts on a person’s mental health and well-being. When an unhelpful behaviour becomes ingrained in the person’s lifestyle, it can lead to psychological issues over time. Negative thoughts can grow and fester, leading to even more problems.

The goal of CBT is to change the ways the person thinks and behaves through therapy. By restructuring their thoughts, beliefs and actions, they can begin to remedy the mistakes of the past. This helps them to move on with their lives in more positive, constructive ways. The process also teaches relevant coping strategies to help patients deal with future problems and issues.

How Does CBT Work?

To get started with CBT, you’ll need to visit a therapist or psychologist who specialises in this treatment method. You’ll start by discussing the most pressing problems you are currently experiencing in your life. Your therapist will help you evaluate these problems and the ways you currently approach coping with them. You’ll also discuss your beliefs and emotions regarding these situations.

Once you have established the focus for your treatment, you can then determine which coping strategies are negative and which are positive. You’ll also examine any beliefs you have about these situations that may not necessarily be fully accurate. Your therapist will teach you how these negative and inaccurate beliefs are affecting your life and preventing you from achieving your goals.

Now that you have identified the negative thought patterns that are holding you back from living your best life, you can begin the work of restructuring them. Your therapist will help you find ways to challenge your existing beliefs so that you can approach your problems in a new way. Negative thoughts are like any habit: they can be broken with practice. With new coping mechanisms and ways of thinking, you can begin to form new, more positive habits that will better serve you going forward.

It is important to note that CBT is not an overnight fix for all your problems. You’ll need to work with your therapist on an ongoing basis to ensure you continue to progress towards your goals. In general, you can expect to see your therapist for about 5 to 20 weeks to see results, though the specific timeline can vary depending on your needs. You’ll likely have appointments every week or every other week. After you have completed the necessary treatment schedule, you are welcome to continue seeing your therapist to help maintain the results and ensure you stay on track with your new behaviours.

What Can CBT Help With?

Cognitive behaviour therapy can be applied in a variety of cases, as the therapy is adaptable to an individual’s unique needs.

It has shown great results in helping people with many mental conditions and behavioural problems, including:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Phobias
  • Eating disorders
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Anger issues
  • Obsessive compulsive disorder
  • Substance abuse and addiction
  • Insomnia
  • And more.

As versatile as the treatment is, though, it is not effective in all cases. For example, people with schizophrenia and other serious mental disorders often have difficulty grasping the concepts necessary for successful CBT. The same is true for people with learning disabilities and memory issues.

Also, because CBT requires a fair bit of effort on your part, it is probably not the best choice for you if you are looking for a quick, easy fix. That being said, if you are willing to put in the necessary work and self-reflection, you’ll likely have great success with CBT.

What Are the Benefits of CBT?

By taking a practical, task-based approach to solving your problems, rather than an irrational, emotional one, you’ll be able to continuously work towards improving your overall mental health. This can have numerous benefits for you in your life. In addition to treating any mental conditions you suffer from, it can also improve your overall quality of life by helping you deal with any challenges more effectively.

If you are taking medication to treat any mental health issues, like anxiety or depression, CBT may be able to help you reduce your reliance on medication. You may even be able to wean yourself off the medication entirely over time, minimising your risk of negative side effects. You, your therapist and your doctor will all work together to monitor your dosage to ensure it is just right. It is always a good idea to consult with your doctor before reducing or stopping your medication to prevent any complications.

Finally, CBT will teach you how to take a more proactive approach to your mental health in the future. This way, when new issues arise, you’ll already be equipped with the tools you need to self-evaluate so that you can avoid falling into negative behaviour and thought patterns in the first place. Your beliefs about yourself will evolve as well, giving you greater confidence and self-esteem.

Learn More About Cognitive Behaviour Therapy

Here at Life & Mind Psychology, we are proud to include CBT among our mental health services. We work with patients throughout the Sutherland Shire, and we will be more than happy to discuss your needs with you in greater detail. Our compassionate therapists will work closely with you to give you the best chance of success with your treatment. Our goal is to help you live your best life, and it all starts with a free consultation to review your case. Get in touch with our office today to schedule your first appointment.

References:

https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/cognitive-behaviour-therapy-cbt
https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/cognitive-behaviour-therapy
https://thiswayup.org.au/how-we-can-help/cognitive-behavioural-therapy/
https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/296579.php
https://www.psychologytoday.com/au/therapy-types/cognitive-behavioral-therapy
https://socialanxietyinstitute.org/top-5-list-benefits-cognitive-therapy

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