"There is hope, even when your brain tells you there isn’t."
— John Green
WHAT IS CBT THERAPY, REALLY?
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of psychotherapeutic treatment or talk therapy. CBT helps you become aware of inaccurate or negative thinking so you can view challenging situations more clearly and respond to them in a more effective way.
What are the different types of CBT?
The type of CBT you receive depends on what is being addressed. Different types of of cognitive therapy may include:
Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) combines the ideas of cognitive therapy with meditative practices and attitudes based on the cultivation of mindfulness.
Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is another evidence-based type of cognitive therapy that uses strategies like problem solving and finding acceptance. The term "dialectical" comes from the idea that bringing together two opposites in therapy -- acceptance and change -- brings better results than either one alone.
Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) is an action-oriented approach to psychotherapy. This behaviorally-oriented CBT technique relies heavily on positive reinforcement and counter-conditioning.
Rational emotive behavior therapy (REBT) is an active-oriented therapy approach that helps you identify irrational beliefs like self-defeating feelings and thoughts.
Who does CBT really benefit?
CBT can be a very helpful tool.
Either alone or in combination with other therapies in treating mental health disorders, such as depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or an eating disorder.
But not everyone who benefits from CBT has a mental health condition.
CBT can be an effective tool to help anyone learn how to better manage stressful life situations.
What to expect from my first CBT appointment?
Beginning therapy can feel overwhelming.
You may be thinking of what the therapist might ask you. You may find difficulty sharing your personal thoughts with a stranger, and that's okay, too.
CBT sessions generally are quite structured, but yours may be a bit different.
CBT uses a hands-on, practical approach to problem solving.
During the sessions, you'll work with your therapist to break down your problems into their separate parts, such as your thoughts, physical feelings and actions.
Depending upon your specific challenges and needs, CBT sessions can last anywhere from 5 to 20 weeks, with each session lasting for 30 to 60 minutes.
The CBT Triangle
The cognitive triangle connects thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. It indicates how our thoughts change the way we feel which in turn has an impact on our actions which affect our thoughts and the cycle goes on.
The point of the cognitive triangle is to shed light on the connection between feelings, thoughts, and actions. Knowing how these three are connected helps to change some of our behaviors and thoughts.
What's the difference between CBT and DBT
Despite their similarities, there are some important differences between CBT and DBT.
CBT mainly helps clients identify and change problematic ways of thinking and behaving, while DBT also helps clients regulate extreme emotions to improve relationships through validation and behavior change.
The main difference between Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Dialectical Behavior Therapy is a matter of emphasis:
CBT focuses on thought patterns and their redirection;
DBT focuses on balance and the relationship between acceptance and change.
Some of the advantages of CBT may include:
Can be as effective as medication in treating some mental health disorders and may be helpful in cases where medication alone has not worked.
The highly structured nature of CBT means it can be provided in different formats, including in groups, self-help books and online programs.
Some of the disadvantages of CBT to consider include:
To benefit from CBT, you need to commit yourself to the process. A therapist can help and advise you, but cannot make your problems go away without your co-operation.
Due to the structured nature of CBT, it may not be suitable for people with more complex mental health needs or learning difficulties.
"You don’t have to control your thoughts. You just have to stop letting them control you."
— Dan Millman