Cognitive Behavior Therapy
Cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) is a type of psychotherapeutic treatment that helps patients
understand the thoughts and feelings that influence behaviours. CBT is commonly used to treat a wide
range of disorders including phobias, depression and anxiety.
Cognitive behaviour therapy is generally short-term and focused on helping clients deal with a very specific problem. During the course of treatment, people learn how to identify and change destructive or disturbing thought patterns that have a negative influence on behaviour.
For example, a person who spends a lot of time thinking about plane crashes, runway accidents, and other air disasters may find themselves avoiding air travel. The goal of cognitive behaviour therapy is to teach patients that while they cannot control every aspect of the world around them, they can take control of how they interpret and deal with things in their environment.
Cognitive behaviour therapy has become increasingly popular in recent years with both mental health consumers and treatment professionals. Because CBT is usually a short-term treatment option, it is often more affordable than some other types of therapy. CBT is also empirically supported and has been shown to effectively help patients overcome a wide variety of maladaptive behaviours.
People often experience thoughts or feelings that reinforce or compound faulty beliefs. Such beliefs can result in problematic behaviours that can affect numerous life areas, including family, romantic relationships, work, and academics. For example, a person suffering from low self-esteem might experience negative thoughts about his or her own abilities or appearance. As a result of these negative thinking patterns, the individual might start avoiding social situations or pass up opportunities for advancement at work or at school.
In order to combat these destructive thoughts and behaviours, a cognitive-behavioural therapist begins by helping the client to identify the problematic beliefs. This stage, known as functional analysis, is important for learning how thoughts, feelings, and situations can contribute to maladaptive behaviours. The process can be difficult, especially for patients who struggle with introspection, but it can ultimately lead to self-discovery and insights that are an essential part of the treatment process.
The second part of cognitive behaviour therapy focuses on the actual behaviours that are contributing to the problem. The client begins to learn and practice new skills that can then be put into use in real-world situations. In most cases, CBT is a gradual process that helps a person take incremental steps towards a behaviour change.