A little something about CBT…

Over the last few weeks, we have been sharing posts to familiarize people with mental illness. But what is more important is how to treat them. In our next series, we will be sharing very basic ideas about support and treatment to give a better picture. In this post, we specifically want to give an idea about one of the most popular techniques in treatment –  Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or CBT. Read on to know more about it…

In Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, a therapist and the client work together to identify and challenge any negative thinking patterns and behavior which may be causing the client any problems. This can guide him/her in changing the manner in which he/she feels about situations and help in changing behavior in future situations.  CBT is one of the best studied and used forms of therapy. CBT is built on the combination of the basic principles from behavioural and cognitive psychology. Originally, this therapy was designed to treat depression, but its use has been stretched to cover treatment of other mental health conditions, like anxiety.

The core principles of CBT are identifying negative or false beliefs and testing or restructuring them. CBT focuses on how your thoughts, beliefs, and attitudes affect your feelings and behaviour, and also, teaches you coping skills for dealing with different problems.

You and your therapist might focus on what is going on in your life presently, you both can both look at the past, and think about how the past experiences impact the manner in which one views the world. Through the sessions, the focus is on exploring relationships among the client’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviours. Both the therapist and the client work to reveal unhealthy patterns of thought and how they may be the source of self-destructive behaviours and beliefs.

By approaching this model of thoughts, they can put to work to design constructive ways of thinking that can create healthier behaviours and beliefs. For example, CBT can help someone replace thoughts that lead to low self-esteem (“I can’t do anything right”) with positive expectations (“I can do this most of the time, I just need to be more confident”).

A number of CBT techniques can be used to help individuals challenge their patterns and beliefs and replace errors in thinking, known as cognitive distortions, such as overgeneralizing, magnifying negatives, minimizing positives and catastrophizing, with more realistic and logical thoughts, thus reducing emotional distress and self-defeating behaviour. CBT techniques may also be used to help individuals take a more open, mindful, and conscious attitude toward cognitive distortions.

CBT can be employed in combination with a variety of techniques such as exposure therapy, relaxation training, stress inoculation, dialectical behaviour therapy, and acceptance and commitment therapy.

It is important to realize that what we think, how we feel and how we behave are all interconnected – and all of these factors jointly shape our well-being.


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