What is CBT Therapy?
CBT treatment varies according to the issue to be treated. However, CBT Therapy generally includes:
This phase can include completing questionnaires and psychometrics to help your psychologist understand your concerns and symptoms. Psychometrics also allow your psychologist to keep track of your progress and report it to your GP, especially if you are seeing your psychologist under a GP Mental Health Treatment Plan or MHTP.
Your psychologist may provide information, brochures or recommend books to help you better understand your problems and challenges. Understanding your problem and how CBT Therapy works can help you better manage your anxiety, fears, and negative thoughts and feelings.
Your psychologist may help you identify the goals you wish to achieve through therapy and learn practical strategies to put in place to help you achieve your goals.
Your psychologist may help you develop skills and practice new strategies through role-playing or exposure to situations to help you overcome negative patterns of thinking and behaviours.
What CBT Therapy Involves
One of the key components of CBT therapy involves identifying and changing negative thought patterns. For example, you may experience anxiety and have negative thoughts like ‘I can’t handle this situation, I can’t do it.’ CBT therapy can help you reframe the thought into a positive yet realistic one like ‘This is a challenge, and I can handle it.’
Another important aspect of CBT therapy is behavioural activation, which involves identifying and changing negative behaviours. For example, someone with depression may have stopped engaging in activities they used to enjoy. Through CBT, they would work to identify and resume these activities, which can help improve their mood.
CBT therapy also involves teaching clients coping skills to manage difficult emotions and situations. For example, someone with social anxiety may be taught relaxation techniques to use in social situations and strategies for challenging negative thoughts and behaviours. Ultimately this is in the service of helping the person manage effectively being in the social situation and increase their exposure to these situations. As the person experiences more and more exposure to previously feared situations, their previous anxiety about these situations lessens.
CBT Therapy Uses
CBT is an effective form of psychotherapy that helps people improve mental health wellbeing. CBT is an outcome-focused therapy that can help you address specific issues. However, you can use the CBT skills you learn to enhance other areas of your life.
CBT Therapy is used to treat a variety of presentations, including:
CBT therapy requires the client’s active involvement during therapy with a psychologist and takes an efficient and focused approach to the problem in question. CBT engages the person in treatment by helping them understand the relationship between their thoughts and behaviours. They learn to identify restricting or negative thoughts and behaviours and work on replacing them with effective, positive ones.
What CBT Therapy with a Psychologist Looks Like
Psychologists have experience and training in developing suitable, individualised treatment to assist their clients. A psychologist works with clients to build a partnership where they feel comfortable and support them in practising new skills and techniques, both during the treatment and in the intervening days.
The first appointment with a psychologist starts with an assessment. During the assessment phase:
- Your psychologist will ask you questions to understand the issues that concern you.
- Your psychologist will also explain how CBT works, what to expect in the upcoming sessions and give an approximate duration of the treatment. This depends on the issue to be treated and the severity of its effect on you. Familiarising yourself with how CBT works makes sure that you will come to the next session with your psychologist fully prepared and ready to discuss events and experiences that have occurred since your last appointment.
- Finally, the treatment plan will be developed, including the goals set and how they will be monitored.
During the course of therapy, rather than talking freely about your life, you and your psychologist discuss specific problems and set goals for you to achieve. CBT therapy focuses on issues – it is mainly concerned with how you think and act now rather than attempting to resolve past problems. Your psychologist may walk you through exercises to explore your thoughts, feelings and behaviour. You and your psychologist might agree on some activities you can work on in your own time. You may go over what you did in previous sessions and discuss what progress you’ve made.
CBT therapy sessions last 50-60 minutes, and treatment can take between 5 and 20 weeks, depending on the frequency of the psychology appointments.
Psychologists also encourage their clients to practice new behaviours outside of therapy sessions to reinforce the positive changes they are making.