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  • Tanya Oosthhuyzen

Understanding CBT


You are lying in bed just about to fall asleep and suddenly you hear glass shattering downstairs. Someone is breaking in!!


Your body tenses, your heartbeat increases, your breathing is shallow, your mind is racing and for a second you can’t move. While lying there a thought then crosses your mind, you remember that you left the window open downstairs and it is likely the heavy curtain has blown in and knocked the vase off the table. Immediately your body starts to relax, your heartbeat normalizes, your breathing regulates and you feel relief.


Although the situation hasn’t changed, your response to it has! Research shows that the way individuals perceive a situation is more closely connected to their reaction, than the situation itself. Imagine a world in which we are able to have more control over our thoughts and emotional responses. It is this that is the basic premise for Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, or CBT, as it is most often referred to.


What is CBT?

CBT is an evidence-based treatment, first developed by Dr. Aaron Beck, which surmises that our thoughts, feelings and behaviours are all linked. We all have thought distortions; however, through recognizing, challenging and changing thought patterns, one is able to view situations more clearly, respond more effectively and, in turn, feel better. Through a collaborative therapeutic process, the therapist helps the client to identify and challenge unhelpful thought patterns which are contributing to unwanted behaviours and emotional responses. In this way, CBT helps clients to solve problems, evaluate thoughts and beliefs, achieve meaningful goals, and build strong interpersonal relationships.


What to expect?

CBT is a short to medium term structured therapy which is present focused. Although your history will be required, this is more for your therapist to understand and make links to how your past experiences have developed certain core beliefs about yourself (i.e. “I’m not good enough”) and influence your current thought patterns. Sessions mostly focus on any difficulties you are experiencing in the here-and-now and provide important practical skills and techniques. This is achieved through setting defined goals each session, creating and working toward an action plan and measuring progress. As CBT is a practical skills based therapeutic model, take home assignments are essential to the process. This allows one to develop and practice the learned principles introduced in session. It is important to remember that as a collaborative process, all sessions and assignments will be adapted and modified to suit each client’s individual needs. It is through this process of practice and skills development that the client essentially moves towards becoming their own therapist (https://cares.beckinstitute.org/about-cbt/what-are-sessions-like).


What can CBT treat?

CBT has been shown to be effective in treating a wide range of concerns including, but not limited to depression, anxiety, quality of life, substance abuse, motivation, body image, stress management, medical conditions, clinical mental health disorders (schizophrenia, Bipolar Mood Disorder etc.), procrastination, relationship difficulties, disordered eating, goal setting/achievement, self-esteem and anger management to name a few.


If you think you may benefit from this type of therapy, contact a therapist today to see if CBT a fit for you.


Until next time!

Tanya




Author Unknown. (2022). Beck Institute for Cognitive Behaviour Therapy. https://cares.beckinstitute.org/about-cbt/



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