What is Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT)?
Cognitive Behaviour Therapy helps you identify unhelpful, unrealistic, outdated or dysfunctional thinking, behavioural and communication patterns and to learn and develop new helpful skills and strategies to improve emotional well being, psychological health, relationships and overall functioning. It assesses all factors that may contribute to a problem, including thoughts, beliefs, expectations, emotions, moods, physical conditions, social relationships, past experiences and your general environment. It is a flexible, constantly evolving approach involving a wide variety of techniques that can be adapted to a wide range of issues/problems and individual needs/goals. It is a relatively short-term, structured, practical and goal-directed therapy that aims for long-term effective outcomes.
Cognitive Behaviour Therapy has been extensively researched and practiced for over 30 years. It has been shown to be the most effective approach for many psychological problems and disorders. It works well with other treatments, such as, medication, supportive counselling and mindfulness skills training. It is an active, collaborative therapy and usually involves homework tasks. One of the great strengths of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy is that it provides you with strategies and skills that enable you to manage your issues independently.
Is Cognitive Behaviour Therapy Just Learning How to Think Positively?
No. “Positive thinking”, can be a bit simplistic and sometimes unrealistic. It may not be very helpful in the long-term. Cognitive Behaviour Therapy involves a wide variety of effective techniques so it is important to work with a therapist who has appropriate training and experience. The cognitive therapy component will help you explore thoughts, beliefs, expectations and emotions in depth and learn meta-cognitive and mindfulness skills (how to think about and observe your own thinking and emotions). It helps you identify your authentic beliefs and values, what is important to focus your attention on and how you can modify, reframe or change what is unhelpful, unrealistic, outdated or dysfunctional. Sometimes you might not be able to change or stop unhelpful thoughts but you can learn how to change the way you respond to them to reduce associated distress and impairment of functioning.
Does Cognitive Behaviour Therapy Include the Body?
Yes! Relaxation training has always been a core component of CBT. Relaxation techniques help to reduce physiological arousal associated with tension, stress, anxiety, anger and pain, and promote calmness. Relaxation techniques include diaphragmatic breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, isometric relaxation, creative visualisations and yoga nidra. Relaxation training can help you tune into your body and develop more conscious awareness of your physical sensations and emotions, and how they change. You can develop some control over your physiological state and when your body is relaxed, your mind also calms down so you can think more clearly, rationally and wisely. Therefore, relaxation training can help you manage stress, emotions and pain more effectively.