Counseling is a vast field that involves the use of various therapeutic techniques that employ different principles for the treatment of the patient. CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) is one of the several approaches that are in trend these days in mental health services. Aaron Beck introduced it in the 1960s, and it remains quite popular among therapists.
Table of contents
- What is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy?
- What is the Aim of CBT?
- CBT Effectiveness Studies
- Advantages of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
- Adaptive Strategies
- Solution-Focused Approach
What is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy?
It is a goal-oriented therapy that combines elements of both psychotherapy and behavioral therapy. This is because psychotherapy focuses on the relevance of the personal meaning of different things or events for the client and his thinking patterns since his childhood (dysfunctional assumptions) and as a behavioral therapy it aims at looking at the link between our thoughts, behavior and psychological issues.
Unlike other approaches, it is a short-term therapy that doesn’t consume an ample amount of the patient’s time talking about his past life events or digging into his unconscious desires or conflicts, rather it is quite a structured approach. It works on the principle that unexpected or traumatic events don’t cause negative feelings and emotions in us, rather our negative thoughts regarding those events are the real culprit behind negative emotions and actions. Thus, the meaning we assign to different situations or events determines their impact on us.
What is the Aim of CBT?
The aim of the therapy is to point out these thoughts which make the person feel helpless and unworthy, as the patient lacks the ability to differentiate these automated negative thoughts from other thoughts. Therefore, the therapy focuses on altering these maladaptive thoughts, beliefs, ideas, and attitudes of people towards that event or situation and further, the patient’s way of handling those situations in a more adaptive way.
It encourages the patient to take a more realistic or practical approach and test his maladaptive beliefs or ideas in terms of reality and explore the fact that they are not necessarily true every time. This happens because, when facing a negative circumstance, we tend to become biased and overestimate the level of problems in our lives, which doesn’t align with reality.
CBT Effectiveness Studies:
DF Tolin(2010) in his study revealed that CBT was quite effective as compared to other therapies like psychodynamic therapy for treating depressive and anxiety disorders. Along with depression and anxiety disorders, it is also found to be effective for substance abuse, panic attacks, obsessive-compulsive disorder, eating problems, sexual and relationship problems, post-traumatic stress disorder, and various other psychological problems. It operates on a problem-solving approach and is highly practical in nature where the main aim of the patient is to deal with their issues and not gain insight.
Advantages of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
1. Adaptive Strategies
One of the greatest benefits of CBT is that it provides patients with adaptive strategies that last not just once or twice but throughout their lifetime. In CBT, it’s not just about freely discussing anything; instead, it follows a highly organized and structured approach. Initially, both the patient and therapist discuss the issues the patient is facing (e.g., nightmares after trauma). They later set common goals, being decided by the patient and therapist together. These may include homework assignments, exposure to fearful objects or events, looking at the event in an alternate manner, and re-describing and re-evaluating it several times until it is no longer painful and disturbing for the patient.
2. Time Saving
Other benefits of CBT are that it enables the therapist and patient to make use of therapy time efficiently as well as ensures that all required information is collected while making proper use of time and resources. It can also be conducted in groups. People might benefit from the feeling of belongingness with others. Additionally, consultation, assistance, and advice from other group members help them solve their similar issues. This group therapy serves as a grand platform where services and assistance can be provided to many people at the same time. Unlike, other therapies that might lead to dependency in patients on their therapist, CBT is quite different as it places both patient and therapist on equal chairs when no one is superior to the other.
3. Solution-Focused Approach
It also follows professional guidelines where the therapist obtains feedback from the patient and follows a practical and solution-focused approach that is highly structured and goal-focused. The major goal is to make the patient realize that he might not have control over the events and situations but he does have control over how he feels and handles these events in a rational manner. Thus, it is a short-term approach that is quite affordable for common people with various psychological problems.
An example of its application in trauma can be:-“A patient got into a car accident where he survived but his wife died, due to which he has built and developed a fear of driving cars. The therapist made him realize that his thoughts about himself were quite irrational and not doing any good in the current situation. They also started exposing the patient to care and related activities along with relaxation. Gradually, with time and exposure patient was able to overcome his feelings of guilt and fear from driving cars.” Thus, CBT is a therapy with a wide scope in today’s world which is quite successful and highly recommended therapy for patients with various psychological problems.
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