Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is rooted in understanding the impact of thoughts upon behaviours. This approach to psychotherapy is problem-focused, helping individuals identify unhelpful thoughts that impact behaviours and goals. CBT sessions help clients identify and evaluate thought patterns, attitudes and beliefs that are related to distressing emotional and behavioural responses. Through this analysis, clients are shown how unhelpful their thinking styles contribute to maintaining emotional problems such as depression, anxiety or anger. Clients are taught to view their thoughts as narratives about the problem rather than actual facts, allowing the client to use various viewpoints to understand difficult and pressing situations. Clients and psychotherapists will work on creating an internal dialogue that is rooted in self-compassion and based on real facts rather than personal observations.
The CBT Model
There is an interaction between thought, emotions and behaviours which can result in a vicious cycle that maintains most emotional problems. A triggering event is any stimulating situation in your environment that can trigger emotions, thoughts and behaviours. For example, waking up late can lead an individual to think “This is going to be a bad day.” The triggering event of waking up late can set the mood for the day. Further, our thought patterns can become affected by this triggering event leading to automatic thoughts (thoughts that are occurring rapidly without awareness) which will then direct our behaviours. By slowing down our cognitive processes, we can begin to create a pattern of triggering events and corresponding thought and emotional responses, allowing us to be objective and question the evidence of these thoughts.
CBT is short-term psychotherapy that is goal-oriented, taking anywhere between 6 to 20 sessions for most emotional problems. Sessions should be weekly, lasting approximately 50 minutes.