Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT)
CBT is a very popular therapy which essentially helps the client learn to refute negative and destructive cognitive distortions, which are impacting badly on his or her life. This then enables the creation of new neurological pathways which house or support the reframe of said previous self-limiting and destructive beliefs (self talk). Cognitive-behavioural therapies teach that when our brains are healthy, it is our thinking that causes us to feel and act the way we do. Therefore, if we are experiencing unwanted feelings and behaviours, it is important to identify the thinking that is causing the feelings and learn how to replace this thinking with thoughts that lead to more desirable reactions or behaviours. By using imagery, self-instruction and other related techniques, we are taught to alter distorted attitudes and perceptions. Essentially you are what you think - if you think you can, or think you can’t, then you are right!
There are several styles or models of CBT, but most have the following characteristics:
CBT is based on the Cognitive Model of Emotional Response. It is based on the premise (scientific fact) that our thoughts cause our feelings and behaviours, not external things, like people, situations or events. The benefit of this is that we can change the way we think, therefore impacting on our emotional response, resulting in a changed behavioural outcome. Even if the Initial Sensitizing Event (ISE) cannot be changed, we can learn to think differently about that event and end up with a positive, healthier response.
CBT is Brief and Time-Limited. It is considered a relatively rapid treatment modality, second only to Hypnosis or EFT. The average number of sessions clients receive (across all types of problems) is only 8-10, with positive changes frequently noted after the first one or two sessions. When CBT is combined with Hypnosis and EFT, results are surprisingly rapid and pervasive.
A sound therapeutic relationship is necessary for effective therapy. Some forms of therapy assume that the main reason people get better is because of the positive relationship between the therapist and client, but that alone is not enough. CBT therapists believe that the clients change when they learn to think differently, therefore, CBT therapists focus on teaching rational, positive, yet realistic self-talk skills.
CBT is a collaborative effort between the therapist and the client. CBT therapists seek to learn what their clients want out of life (their goals) and then help them to achieve these goals. The therapist’s role is to listen, teach and encourage; the client’s role is to express concerns, learn, and implement that learning in their lives. In effect, the client becomes the co-therapist, because they are deeply involved in their own therapy.
CBT is based on an educational/didactic model. Scientific studies support the contention that most emotional and behavioural reactions are the result of learned behaviours. The goal therapy is designed to help clients unlearn their unwanted reactions and replace them with new behavioural responses. While CBT therapists do not present themselves as ‘know-it-alls’, the assumption is that if clients knew what the therapist had to teach them, the clients would not have the emotional/behavioural problems they are experiencing. Therefore, CBT has nothing to do with ‘just talking’; people can ‘just talk’ to anyone. The educational emphasis of CBT has the additional benefit of leading to long term benefit and change in the client's life.
Homework is a central feature of CBT. As a child, when you attempted to learn how to write, if you only spent one hour per week practising, you may well still be struggling to develop your own writing style. You very likely spent a great deal of time at it. The same is the case with psychotherapy. Goal achievement (if attained) could take a very long time if all a person had to do was to think about the techniques and topics taught for one hour per week. That’s why CBT therapists assign reading assignments and encourage their clients to practise the techniques learned between sessions.