What is cognitive behavioural therapy, and how it works?
The basic principles of behavioural psychology and cognitive psychology are integrated into cognitive behaviour therapy. CBT is different from earlier approaches to psychotherapy, like a psychoanalytic method where the therapist looks to the unconscious process behind the behaviours and then formulates a diagnosis and help the client to get solutions.
CBT is a form of problem-focused and action-oriented. It is used to treat the problems related to various mental disorders. The role of a therapist is to assist the clients in finding and practising effective strategies to achieve the identified goals and eliminate mental disorder symptoms.
CBT is based on the idea that thought distortions and maladaptive behaviours play a vital role in the development of psychological disturbances. That symptoms associated distress can be eliminated by acquiring new information-processing skills and coping strategies.
When compared to psychoactive medications, researchers have found CBT alone to be as effective for treating less severe forms of anxiety and depression, tics, eating disorders, substance abuse, post-traumatic stress and borderline personality disorder. Combined treatment of CBT and medications is useful in the treatment of severe obsessive-compulsive disorder and major depressive disorders, bipolar disorders and psychotic disorders. CBT is the baseline treatment for mental disorders in children and adolescents, including depression and behaviour disorder.
Therapists use cognitive behavioural techniques to help clients change their patterns and beliefs. And thereby replacing errors in thinking, known as cognitive distortions, like overgeneralizing; exaggerating negatives and minimize positives with more rational and healthy thoughts, thus decreasing the emotional distress and self-defeating behaviours. Cognitive distortions can be either a pseudo-discrimination belief or an over-generalization of something. CBT techniques may also be used to help clients to take a more open, mindful, and aware posture toward cognitive distortions to diminish their impact.
A.T. Beck, in 1960, used CBT as an effective intervention for the treatment of the depressive disorder. He stated that depressed persons hold irrational beliefs and schemas. According to Beck, these irrational beliefs make cognitive distortions, and it leads to depression. Cognitive therapy targets changing irrational thought patterns to create a positive mood and behaviour. CBT helps the clients for developing coping skills to resolve the problems and to face the usual struggles in life.
How to Practise
In CBT, the therapist and client work together to identify the negative thought patterns and behavioural responses to stressful situations. CBT helps the client to acquire new answers to stressful situations. These constructive responses help the clients to decrease or eliminate the behaviour disorder.
Phases in CBT
There are six phases in cognitive behaviour therapy.
- Skills acquisition
- Generalization and maintenance
- Post-treatment assessment follow-up
- Skills consolidation and application training
After identifying the behaviours that need positive changes, whether they are in excess or deficit, and treatment has occurred, the psychologist must determine whether or not the intervention succeeded.
The steps in the assessment phase include:
Step 1: To recognize critical behaviours
Step2: Determine whether essential practices are high or low
Step 3: Evaluate frequency, duration, or intensity of critical behaviours
Step 4: If high, attempt to decrease the frequency, duration, or intensity of behaviours; if low, attempt to increase behaviours.
According to CBT, between events and feelings, there are some unidentified thoughts or beliefs. These thoughts and ideas are known as irrational thoughts. People are not aware of these thoughts. They are bothered only about their feelings. CBT helps the clients to identify the underlying ideas and beliefs that cause depression. These thoughts may be unrealistic or baseless, that means irrational thoughts. CBT teaches clients to modify these irrational thoughts to be rational.