Cognitive behaviour therapy — CBT is a short term, goal-oriented form of psychotherapy. CBT attempts to change patterns of thinking or behaviour and thus change the way you feel. CBT makes you aware of your thoughts, beliefs and attitudes (your cognitions) and how it relates to the way you behave. It then tries to change these thoughts and behaviours which may be at the root of your emotional problems. CBT is problem focused and has specific ways to deal with your problems. It is action-oriented and requires you to actively work towards your goals.
When is CBT used?
Depression and other mood disorders
Social Anxiety and Social Phobia
Anxiety disorders and Panic attacks and Phobias
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder – OCD
Post-traumatic stress disorder – PTSD
Habit and Tic Disorders
What are the Steps in CBT?
Identify disturbing situations in your life. Focus on problems you wish to tackle and list them with help from your therapist.
Observe your actions in these situations - how often they occur, for how long and how severe they are. This initial rating forms the base for starting treatment.
Become aware of your thoughts, moods, sensations or beliefs in these situations. You will be asked to maintain a chart or journal for this.
Learn to see patterns of negative thinking, and the changes in your body, mood and behaviour in response to these and other situations.
Learn to control and change behaviours in a step-wise fashion, challenging yourself further with each session.
Each CBT session lasts 45-60 minutes; sessions are held once or twice a week. The number of sessions is 6-12; but this depends on the disorder being treated, the severity and duration, and your own progress.
What happens in a CBT session?
Each session is structured in the following order:
Recap about the points of the previous session
Go over the homework, any problems faced and how you tackled them.
Decide goals you would want to work on next.
Plan for the next homework assignment.
Homework is an integral part of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy. These comprise activities, charts and exercises that build on what you have learnt in the sessions and help you apply them to your daily life.
Outcome in CBT
The skills learnt during CBT put you in better control of your moods and actions and boosts your faith in your own coping skills. They help you to cope with similar conditions in the future. A person with an anxiety disorder, for example, learns to confront his fears in a gradual and acceptable way. This gives him confidence about facing similar situations later in life. So also, a patient with depression learns to be aware of his negative thoughts and replace them with more rational and useful thoughts, thus breaking the vicious cycle of depression.
Though Cognitive Behaviour Therapy has been proved to be very useful, every person does not respond in the same way. A great deal depends on your own commitment. Taking active part with the therapist; Honesty and willingness to share thoughts, feelings and experiences; attending sessions regularly; doing the required homework between sessions are needed to get the best results.
Don’t expect immediate results. During the first few sessions, facing your conflicts and fears may cause distress; however this will soon pass. If you find it difficult; talk it over with your therapist who will then guide you more slowly. In some cases, as in moderate to severe depression, anxiety and OCD; Cognitive Behaviour Therapy is combined with medicines for the best results.
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