8 Techniques from Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy for Positive Change
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8 Techniques from Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy for Positive Change

cognitive-behavioural therapy-cbt

The primary goal of Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy is to make an individual aware of their negative thought patterns (also known as irrational thoughts), make sense of them, promote rational thinking in its stead, and lead to a healthier coping mechanism. Intending to target the irrational thoughts that lead to irrational feelings and behaviour, Cognitive-Behavioural therapy allows many techniques into practice. We will discuss many of them below.

Read More: A Complete Guide to CBT as a Counseling Approach

Here are the 8 CBT techniques for positive change in your thinking pattern:

1. Cognitive Restructuring

Cognitive-behavioural therapy explains that it is the pattern of irrational thoughts that lead to negative emotions and behaviour. One of the cognitive-behavioural therapies is known as cognitive reframing or restructuring. This technique teaches one to think and contemplate deeply about your negative thoughts and their patterns. Sometimes people have dichotomous thinking, that is, they think of everything in extremities, or sometimes they overgeneralize (for example, I failed my English exam, therefore I am going to fail in my life too). These negative thinking patterns can affect our behaviour and feelings, we might become overly conscious or become despondent over our situation thinking that there is no use working hard when we know the result. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Read more: The Psychology Behind Irrational Decisions

A CBT therapist will help an individual understand what irrational thought patterns are. Once these are recognized, the next step is to learn to turn these thoughts into rational and positive ones. This will help one deal with the negative feelings and allow oneself to be more productive in the future. The negative thought of “I always fail and I can never succeed in life” can be reframed into “There are many challenges in my life, but I can take this as an opportunity to learn from them and work harder towards my goal.”

Read More: Why Is Optimism Important To Achieve Success? 

2. Guided Discovery

As the name suggests, the therapist becomes the client’s guide during the therapy session. Since the primary focus of CBT is our thoughts, emotions, and behaviour, the therapy guides the client into understanding them. This is a collaboration between the client and the therapist and requires a strong therapeutic alliance. The therapist first aims to become aware of the client’s thought process. The therapist then prepares questions that could be asked to the client, primarily so that the client can introspect and challenge their belief system.

Read More: Your First Therapy Session

For example, when a client claims that “they feel like everyone will judge them” in a social situation, the therapist can ask for evidence that supports their claim and also evidence that does not. This will allow the client to challenge their irrational thinking, the therapist provides guidance through questions and never answers, allowing the client to go through the journey of self-awareness and gain insight.

Read More: 8 Reasons You Underestimate Yourself: How Should You Tackle Them?

3. Behaviour Activation

Behaviour Activation is considered one of the core components of cognitive-behavioural therapy. Behaviour and thoughts are interconnected. Behaviour activation is a process where an individual is encouraged to engage in behaviour that makes them feel pleasure, the pleasure that motivates them to keep engaging in those behaviours and helps develop positive emotions. This is also a technique to reinforce positive behaviours. Behaviour activation can be better understood if we take into account the fact that it is widely been used to treat depression.

Read More: 7 Positive Psychology Habits for Everyday

A person going through depression might find no pleasure in doing activities that they once found enjoyable. By employing behaviour activation, the therapist and the client might set small goals to encourage the client to indulge in those activities. The client may find pleasure in those activities and this may lead to a positive mood. Another example is when an individual gets into a habit of substance abuse. A person might use drugs or alcohol because it’s pleasurable, but ends in a vicious cycle of harmful behaviour. Behaviour activation can be used to replace this activity with something else that gives the individual pleasure. Through small goals, a client can be helped to give up their activity and help in their recovery process.

4. Journalling

The best way to encourage and learn to self-reflect is to journal away your thoughts. CBT is all about becoming aware of the patterns of your thoughts, feelings, and actions, and journaling and aiding in this process and providing valuable insight. The therapist might ask one to use a journal to write down all the negative thoughts that occur in a day. One might also be asked to write down how you can counter those negative thoughts. Journalling can also be used to track down the progress one has had since they have engaged in cognitive-behavioural therapy. This tells them how far they have come.

5. Goal-Setting

Making little changes in your life that can aid you in improving your mental well-being is essential in the recovery process and for positive health. Goal-setting can aid in this process. CBT allows you to learn the process of goal-setting. It encourages you to think introspectively about your short-term goals and by extension also your long-term goals. A therapist might aid the client by guiding them into setting goals more fruitfully. Goal-setting is useful when the goals that are chosen are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-based. This is also called the SMART technique.

Read More: How To Set Your Goal, Know About the Goal Setting Theory

6. Problem-Solving

The process of problem-solving follows a reasonable structure. The therapist and client in a CBT session will go through the problem-solving process with a therapist acting as the guide.

The process of problem-solving involves:

  • Recognize what or where the issue or problem is/lies
  • List down ways to solve the problem. All the possible solutions to the problem that one can think of.
  • Evaluate those solutions.
  • Based on the evaluation choose what is the most optimal way to solve the problem.
  • Implementation of the chosen plan.
7. Exposure Therapy

Usually used for the treatment of anxiety, phobias, and obsessive-compulsive disorders, exposure therapy is an important part of CBT. The idea behind this is that a person cannot overcome their irrational thoughts and the behaviour that comes with them but ignore it. Avoidance will lead to nowhere. Exposure therapy works by slowly exposing the client to whatever is causing the client distress.

For example, if the client fears public speaking, the therapist will set goals for the client that place them in social situations like talking to a stranger and asking for directions, hanging out with a group of friends in a public setting, and lastly public speaking in front of a large audience. All of these must be done in a gradual order and the client only moves on to the next stage when they have overcome the previous lesser anxiety-provoking situation. The therapist also aids the client y guiding them about how to deal with the situation and how to manage their thoughts and behaviour. This brings us to the next CBT technique called Relaxation.

Read More: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Techniques for Anxiety

8. Relaxation

In the context of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), relaxation techniques are methods used to help individuals manage stress, reduce anxiety, and alleviate physical tension. Relaxation is often integrated into CBT to address physiological symptoms associated with psychological distress.

Some of the relaxation techniques are —

  • Deep Breathing
  • Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR).
  • Mindfulness
  • Guided Imagery

Read More: What is Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy?

In conclusion, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) encompasses a range of effective techniques designed to address both cognitive and behavioural aspects of mental health. The discussed eight CBT techniques offer a comprehensive approach to managing various psychological challenges.

References +
  • https://www.healthline.com/health/cbt-techniques
  • https://positivepsychology.com/cbt-cognitive-behavioral-therapy-techniques-worksheets/
  • https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-cognitive-behavior-therapy-2795747
  • Tsitsas GD, Paschali AA. A cognitive-behavior therapy applied to a social anxiety disorder and a specific phobia, case study. Health Psychol Res. 2014;2(3):1603. doi:10.4081/hpr.2014.1603
  • https://cogbtherapy.com/cognitive-behavior-therapy-techniques
  • https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/treatments/21208-cognitive-behavioral-therapy-cbt
  • https://www.simplypsychology.org/cognitive-therapy.html

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