What Is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is a type of psychotherapy that modifies your thought patterns. It helps to change your behaviors and moods. The therapy has its origins in the work of Aaron T. Beck and Albert Ellis in the late 1950s and 60s.
In a nutshell, CBT treatment for depression is a blend of cognitive and behavioral therapy whereby the therapist helps you to identify particular negative thought patterns as well as your behavioral responses to stressful and challenging situations.
CBT is a way of talking about:
- How your actions affect your feelings and thoughts.
- How you perceive yourself, other people and the world.
Treatment involves guiding you to develop more constructive and balanced ways of coping with stressors. Ideally, this will eliminate or minimize your upsetting behavior or disorder altogether. CBT focuses on how to improve your state of mind right now, rather than on looking back on the past.
What Does CBT Involve?
As with any new experience, going for CBT for depression can be daunting. However, we have put together a short guide of what’s involved so you’re prepared:
- You may meet with your therapist for as little as five, to as many as 20 weekly or biweekly sessions. In general, sessions last between 30 and 60 minutes.
- Throughout the initial two to four sessions, your therapist will ascertain whether you are right for the treatment and whether you feel comfortable with it.
- Your therapist will ask you about your background and past. CBT focuses on the present, but you may, at times, need to open up about your past to understand how it is affecting you currently.
- You make the decision on what you need and want to deal with.
- Along with the therapist, you start by agreeing on what is to be discussed that day.
- With the support of the therapist, each of your problems are broken down into different parts. To assist with this, you may be asked to keep a diary to help you identify emotions, thoughts, patterns of action and physical feelings.
- You and your therapist will both look at your behaviors, feelings and thoughts to see how they affect each other and how they affect you you, and to see if they are unhelpful or unrealistic. Your therapist will then work with you to figure out how to change any negatives.
- Your therapist will often give you “homework.” This involves practicing identified changes you need to make in everyday life.
- During every meeting, you’ll have the opportunity to discuss your progress since the previous session. If a certain task hasn’t been working for you, your therapist will address this.
- You will never be made to do anything you don’t want to do. You dictate the pace of your therapy. You can also continue to practice and develop your skills long after the sessions have finished. This will allow you to remain healthy for many years to come.
How Does CBT Work?
CBT, unlike psychodynamic and psychoanalytic therapies (that often take several years to discover, and treat), is a shorter-term approach that usually takes as little as six sessions or up to 20 sessions.Throughout each session, you and the therapist will look at and identify situations within your life that may be contributing to or causing your depression. It is then that any of your distorted perceptions and current patterns of thinking can be identified and tackled.
You may be encouraged to keep a Thought Diary to record different life events and your reactions to them. This then helps the therapist to identify and break down your thought patterns and reactions into different categories of negative thought, including:
- Overgeneralization – drawing conclusions that are far too broad in terms of one single event.
- All–or-nothing thinking – viewing the world as completely black-and-white.
- Automatically negative thoughts – experiencing scolding habitual thoughts.
- Rejecting the positive – disqualifying positive experiences and feeling that they “don’t count.”
- Unrealistically minimizing or maximizing the importance of events – building things up or diminishing them in ways that don’t match reality.
- Taking things too personally –thinking that everything happening around you is because of something you did or said or a feeling that other people’s unrelated actions are specifically directed at you.
- Focusing on one negative issue – dwelling on this consistently until your perception of reality is darkened.
Thought Diary is a very important aspect of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.Here the thought column are mostly Negative Automatic Thoughts (refers to the automatic negative and random thoughts people have in response to things happening around them).So the therapist starts asking questions about the negative automatic thoughts to you until ,you come to know the reality out of the negative thoughts and thus you will start to rationalise the negative thoughts . This process in CBT is known as Thought Challenging. Thought Diary prompts you to:
- Use self-evaluation to respond and reflect in appropriate and healthy ways.
- Practice balanced and accurate self-talk.
- Learn how you can comprehensively and accurately assess emotional behavior as well as external reactions and situations.
- Learn to modify and control your distorted reactions and thoughts.
Through utilizing these various techniques, you can learn how to live again in balance with your own body and mind.