Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a form of talk therapy that helps people identify and develop skills to change negative thoughts and behaviours. CBT states that individuals — not outside situations and events — create their emotional disturbances. By changing their negative thoughts and behaviours, people can change their awareness of disturbance and develop better coping skills. With pain for example CBT does not infer that pain is imagined or all in the head. Far from it, the pain felt we identify as real this can have a catastrophic effect on a persons quality of life and esteem. We have the ability with newer research showing how to develop tools to manage this pain and act against the memory for pain that the brain has maybe created even when tissue damage has healed.
What can CBT do for you? Cognitive behavioural therapy helps provide emotional relief in a few ways. First, it changes the way people view their life disturbances and perception of the world & themselves. CBT can help you change the thoughts, emotions, and behaviours related to your repetitive depressive episodes or panic attacks. For example, it helps you improve coping strategies, and to put your emotional discomfort in better context. To quote stoic philosopher Epictetus `People are disturbed not by things themselves but the view they take of them`
How Does CBT Work?
It is believed that changing your thoughts about whatever concerns you, can change how you view yourself and your future life.
You may not be able to stop negative events from happening in your life but with practice you can control how your mind manages these events.
A therapist using CBT will help you learn to:
• Identify negative thoughts
• Stop negative thoughts
• Practice using positive thoughts
• Develop healthy thinking
Healthy thinking involves the regularity of self challenging negative automatic thoughts that occur in any given trigger situation. CBT states importantly that its not the event, situation or person causing or maintaining your suffering but often the thinking around it. Your concern is very real but the brain can play a part in it continuing, almost like a memory setting or fixed tune the brain continues to play. If this can be reset there is a real chance to reduce and diminish whatever the concern is and a real chance of reduction of that concern for good.
CBT can also teach you to become more active in regulating your thoughts from irrational to rational thoughts. This is important because regular, exercise, such as checking where you are with your thoughts and your behaviours, can help reduce “NAT’s” negative automatic thoughts over the long run.
For CBT to help reduce concerns, your treatment goals need to be realistic and your therapy should be done in steps. For example, your goals may be to see friends more and start exercising. It is realistic to see one or two friends at first and take short walks, maybe just down the block. It is not realistic to reconnect with all of your friends all at once and run 3 miles at once on your first outing. Exercising your mind to the possibility of living with less anxiety or whatever the concern is can help you to deal with chronic deeply entrenched issues/views.
• Actively participate. Like many things, you will get out of CBT what you put into it. The more work you put toward completing your assignments and learning, the better your outcome will be.
• Complete the program. An issue with CBT is that people don’t always complete all aspects of the recommended program. For the therapy to work for your concern, you have to attend sessions, do your homework, and follow the activity plan – this is critically important.
• Practice new skills. Repeat & Practice the new ways you learn to think and act often. This may also entail keeping a log of your concerns and the skills you use to practice it. Practice will help you draw on your CBT skills automatically when you need them.
• Keep an open mind. If you have a persistent need to be right or you can’t stand looking at things a different way, CBT won’t work for you. You need to be able to see that there is an alternative way of looking at things that may be a better way and will help you.