Cognitive Behaviour Therapy – CBT

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
  • Anger management
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder – PTSD
  • Habit and Tic Disorders

What are the Steps in CBT?

CBT is a guided form of therapy through which you learn a step-wise approach to handling your emotions. 
  1. Identify disturbing situations in your life. Focus on problems you wish to tackle and list them with help from your therapist.
  2. 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.
  3. Become aware of your thoughts, moods, sensations or beliefs in these situations. You will be asked to maintain a chart or journal for this.
  4. Learn to see patterns of negative thinking, and the changes in your body, mood and behaviour in response to these and other situations.
  5. Learn to control and change behaviours in a step-wise fashion, challenging yourself further with each session.

What happens in a CBT 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.

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.

CBT takes time. Don’t expect immediate results. During the first few sessions, working to change your way of thinking and behaving may cause distress. However this will soon pass. When you find it difficult to continue you must talk it over with your therapist. She is trained to offer guidance when you are stuck.

Cognitive Behaviour Therapy is proved to be very useful, however, 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.