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What is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy?

By Edited Feb 16, 2016 2 1

What is CBT?

   Better known as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, CBT is a form of therapy used by clinicians for patients with various types of psychological disorders to teach  positive behaviours and thoughts.



   Clinicians help the patient to identify their current thought patterns and feelings that are related to their actions or behaviours. Through different techniques patients learn to change the way they think and act. On a general view, our thoughts about certain situations, events, and even people influence us to behave in different ways. If people have negative or dysfunctional thoughts, they can drive some people to perform negative behaviours that can be disappointing or unwanted and inappropriate. With CBT, patients learn to identify these negative thoughts and learn to change them and respond to them in a different, more positive way.

    Behavioural patterns are also attempted to change, involving new ways of coping to different events and learning new skills. CBT is most commonly the treatment of choice for depression and anxiety disorders, but is also used to treat other psychological disorders too, and also including physical problems.

   Also, people may tend to develop what is known as “cognitive distortions”, meaning that they have formed some sort of belief around a person or situation by being very selective in the information they think about and focus on. Different types of cognitive distortions include: black and white thinking, blaming, should and must statements, overgeneralization, tunnel vision, jumping to conclusions, and many other distorted types of thinking.

When starting CBT, the clinician and patient begin by discussing the patient’s life, his or her difficulties, thoughts and behaviours, and how they cope with everyday or specific situations. By addressing one’s thought patterns and behaviours, the clinician can offer new ways of positive thinking with the patient to try and overcome their previous dysfunctional thinking in order to ease stress and anxiety improving their quality of life.



   Also, it is important to set goals for the patient to participate in outside of therapy. For example, a person suffering from social anxiety with a fear of crowded places may be asked to take a trip to a mall or restaurant once a week. Though the way someone thinks and behaves is in the present, the way they developed these thoughts may have been influenced by past experiences. Even though one’s past cannot be changed, they way someone deals with their feelings towards it can be, but it is important that the patient is willing to change these things. 

    CBT is used to treat many people with various psychological disorders in order to reduce symptoms and can often be combined with medication to enhance and help quicken recovery. Since depression is a very common disorder amongst Western culture, CBT has been applied and been found effective.

   In therapy,  the patient with depression is challenged to identify negative thoughts and drift away from their negative moods and ultimately try to return to an everyday schedule and pleasurable activities. Most studies conducted have shown that the combination of antidepressants and therapy work much better than just therapy alone in severe cases of depression, though therapy alone works just as well in milder cases.


   Anxiety, more specifically Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), is another common disorder among people. GAD is described as excessive worry about many situations and events, usually that is hard to control, can cause physical symptoms, and often more days than not for over 6 months. In CBT, there is a technique called worry awareness training, in which the patient is to bring their worried thoughts into consciousness.

   Also, another technique is to cope with the uncertainty. Many people with GAD worry about what they do not know, therefore avoiding that situation. In this technique, people are purposely exposed to situations where they are uncertain of what will happen. For GAD, CBT has been known as the treatment of choice, therefore meaning it is most effective in managing anxiety symptoms. Another form of CBT for GAD is group therapy. This has been shown to improve symptoms in patients the most, based on follow up of two years.

   CBT is effective for many psychological disorders and on average is usually the treatment of choice for a lot of clinicians. Although CBT may be very effective for a lot of disorders including depression and GAD, there are a few psychological disorders in which CBT does still work, it is just not as effective. For example, Schizophrenia is a disorder that can be treated with CBT, though results show that it is not as effective as other forms of treatment, and definitely not as effective as it is on depression and anxiety. Also, CBT was not as helpful and had little effect on relapse. 

   In conclusion, CBT is very effective in helping people change their negative thoughts, feelings, and behaviours by identifying them and applying learned coping skills, with help of the clinician. Ultimately, the goal is for the patient to be able to become their own therapist, and maintain their learned techniques throughout the rest of their life to prevent replacing.

   CBT is most commonly known for being the treatment of choice for depression and anxiety disorders, as it is the most effective treatment. CBT can also be used in collaboration with medications, and this has shown that they are most effective in severe cases of disorders such as depression. Though, CBT alone is often good enough for most people. Though CBT is a very popular form of treatment, there are still some disorders like schizophrenia where this therapy is not as effective as others.




May 5, 2014 9:15pm
very good and informative
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