Cognitive Behavior Therapy

Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) is a practical form of therapy that is particularly helpful for people who suffer from anxiety and depression. It is a problem solving technique that concentrates on dealing with specific issues, setting goals and achieving results within a limited time period.

What Is It?

It is a therapy that deals with how you think about something and the meaning you give it (cognitive), and how you behave as a result (behavior). The therapy helps you to identify your thought and belief patterns, known as automatic thoughts. Together with the therapist, you work out ways of changing your thoughts and your behavior so that you can you can deal with things differently in the future.

Feelings or Thoughts

Many people think that their feelings come first and thought comes second, but in actual fact it is the other way round!

When you are in a particular situation, if you change your thoughts about it you will also change how you feel about it and therefore your behavior.

For example:

Situation: you are in supermarket check out line and it is taking a long time

Thought: you think that the assistant is being deliberately slow

Feeling: you feel angry and upset

Action: you shout at her to hurry up

Alternatively, you could change your thinking

Thought: poor assistant, it is at the end of a long day, she must be tired

Feeling: you feel sorry for her and make allowances

Action: you give her a smile

How Does It Work?

By learning what your automatic thoughts are and how they affect you, you can identify them as they happen. By challenging your negative thought patterns, you can stop them before they develop into unhelpful and counter-productive behavior.

The therapist will work with you to identify your patterns and the feelings attached to them. Once you have identified your patterns the therapist will help you confront your negative attitudes and probably ask you to keep a daily notebook where you jot down your feelings and the thoughts attached. One of the most important parts of CBT is the homework you do between sessions.

How Long Does It Take?

A typical therapy session lasts between 1/2hr to an hour, once a week or fortnightly. A course of treatment can be a short as 6 weeks and as long as 6 months, depending on the severity of the problem, but is usually somewhere in the middle. The therapist will advise you as the treatment progresses.

Of course, how diligent you are in doing your homework makes a big difference.

How Effective Is It?

Most doctors and therapists consider it at least as effective as anti-depressants for many types of depression, and often more effective in treating anxiety.

One of the advantages of CBT is that you can continue to use the skills you learn in the therapy sessions even after you've finished the course of treatment.

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