Cognitive Behaviour Therapy is a psychological therapy that works by helping you to link the way your cognitions or what you think (thoughts, beliefs, assumptions) with the way you feel (your emotions) and what you do (your behaviour).
It has been found to be helpful for a wide range of clinical conditions including:
- Clinical Depression
- Anxiety disorders (OCD, PTSD, Generalised Anxiety, panic, phobias)
- Low self-esteem
The reason that Cognitive Behaviour Therapy is helpful in treating these conditions is that it targets unhelpful, irrational and inaccurate thinking, as well as maladaptive behaviours that are the cause and maintenance of these conditions. By exploring and identifying unhelpful thoughts and patterns of irrational thinking that lead to destructive behaviours these can be modified and coping improved.
Eg a person who is depressed may have the belief ‘I am worthless’ or the person with social anxiety may have the belief ‘I will be judged by others.’ When in distress a person easily believes these thoughts to be true however with the therapist’s assistance these thoughts can be tested and challenged for their accuracy; behavioural experiments, gradually facing fears and increasing positive behaviours can also be involved.
The Cognitive Behaviour Therapy therapist will be problem focused and goal-directed in targeting and challenging symptoms and in that way the focus is more on the ‘here and now’ problems rather than on understanding how the present is influenced by the past (which is more psycho-dynamic therapy). Cognitive Behaviour Therapy is an active short-term intervention and so ‘homework’ or practise between sessions will be expected, and will also promote effective progress towards symptom reduction.
The goal of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy is to learn more helpful and accurate ways of thinking and more positive behaviours, leading to a more flexible and balanced way of living.