CBT Therapy

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)

Are you considering therapy? Whether you or someone you know is depressed or simply needs someone to help them get through a rough patch, everyone can benefit from therapy. CBT is a specific type of therapy that’s widely used and today we’re going to explore what it’s all about and how it might be useful! 

What is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy?

CBT is a type of talking therapy (psychotherapy) that is often used to help those dealing with anxiety, depression, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or an eating disorder. It is effective for people of all ages and cultural backgrounds.  You don’t have to have a mental health condition to benefit from CBT, as it is an effective tool to manage everyday life stressors.  Before CBT, there were many types of psychotherapy that tried to address these issues but by 1977, it had become the go-to method for treatment.

Our past experience can create a negative vicious cycle between our thoughts, emotions and behaviour. CBT looks at the links between our thoughts, emotions and behaviours and helps to break this vicious cycle by changing our unhelpful thoughts and behaviours, which can have a positive impact on our feelings and bodily sensations.

Mental health difficulties that may improve with CBT include:

  • Depression
  • Panic
  • Generalised anxiety disorder
  • Phobias
  • PTSD
  • Sleep disorders
  • Eating disorders
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Substance use disorders
  • Bipolar disorders
  • Schizophrenia
  • Sexual disorders

How CBT Works

With the intention of being a short, yet effective method of therapy, CBT is typically carried out over 6-20 sessions. CBT looks at how childhood experiences may have affected the way someone views a certain situation, however, this is not typically the focus of this type of therapy. CBT focuses on improving current problems and the future. It can be done one-on-one or in a group with people who have similar difficulties. 

CBT looks not only at the situation at hand but how that individual thinks about it. This provides the therapist with an opportunity to target those negative thoughts to improve the person’s mood and reduce any unhelpful coping mechanisms. 

So what happens when you attend a CBT session? 

The first session is an assessment to gather information about your difficulties. It may take more than one session for your therapist to complete a thorough assessment. Your therapist will ask further questions about your past, thoughts, feelings and behaviour. They will agree on the goals for therapy and explain any relevant policies to you and the structure/plan for therapy. You will also be given space to ask questions. The subsequent sessions would be focused on supporting you achieve your therapy goals. 

After expressing the situation and how you feel about it, you learn how to question your thought patterns, attitudes and beliefs surrounding that situation. It allows you to step back from the ‘problem’ you’re facing and see it from a different viewpoint. Once you learn how to do this, you can continue to practice this method and use it when facing other difficulties in the future. 

CBT teaches you how to take a step back from situations that feel overwhelming for you so that you put things into perspective better and evaluate how you perceive it before allowing yourself to react emotionally to it. 

You start to see how your negative automatic thoughts are not always a reflection of reality, which makes it easier to see the situation from different perspectives. CBT also addresses your core beliefs that were established from a young age and reinforced over time by various life experiences. If you have negative core beliefs, you could be more at risk of experiencing depression or anxiety. Luckily, CBT can help transform your thoughts so you can better handle negative emotions and how you respond to them. 

CBT uses a goal oriented approach, as such you’d be given homework tasks to complete in-between sessions, which give you an opportunity to implement and read about a particular strategy that was discussed in the session.

How To Seek Positive Change:

One of the best ways to start seeking a positive change during Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is by recording your thoughts. If you’re able to list out negative thoughts and evaluate them, it will help reduce your emotional distress. 

You should start by creating a table with three columns, one listing the situation, the next with your automatic thoughts and the last one stating your emotions. After, you should create another table to evaluate the evidence. This table should have two columns, one containing evidence for your automatic thoughts and one with evidence against them. 

When you look at the situation from this perspective, you get to develop a balanced conclusion about the situation, rather than one that’s emotionally charged. 


Tracking Daily Progress: 

There are many techniques that can be used to track how you’re doing emotionally while you go through CBT. Here are a few methods to try out: 

  • Track your weekly activities and rate how much pleasure you get from doing them on a scale from 1-10. For example, having your morning coffee might get a 5/10. 
  • Monitor specific symptoms - If you’re dealing with anxiety, rank how intense the anxiety is when you’re in certain situations. 
  • Schedule activities that will bring you pleasure, as well as things you should get done. Booking things in advance will set you up for success and make you realise what’s getting in the way of accomplishing tasks. 
  • Exposure therapy - Exposing yourself to situations that you fear or bring you anxiety can slowly decrease your levels of stress around that particular thing. 

Using CBT to Transform Your Life: 

Are you ready to give cognitive behavioural therapy a try? If you’re struggling with your mental health, it’s worth a shot and you never know how much your life might change when you’re willing to put yourself first! 

Author: Antoinette

1 comment

Very informative, CBT really is transformational!

Sharon A.

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