What is CBT?

Cognitive behavioural therapy are three distinct types of therapy that have been grouped together, for the sake of the factors they share (outlined below). These are: behavioural therapies, cognitive therapies and third-wave therapies (ex, mindfulness-based therapy and Acceptance & commitment therapy ACT). They all have in common: an orientation toward keeping therapy efficient at all times (although not necessarily brief, a common misconception), based on working toward a predetermined therapeutic goal, itself concrete, mesurable and reachable. There is generally much interest in CBT by the international scientific community, hence the treatment protocols are validated scientifically. Many more general studies have shown how effective this form of therapy is in treating even very ingrained disorders that have been part of the person for a very long time. 

In CBT, problems are broken down into five main areas:

  • situations 
  • thoughts 
  • emotions 
  • physical feelings 
  • actions

These areas are interconnected and interact with each other. Therapy sessions focus on these areas and the dynamics between them. 

Like in supportive psychotherapy, the therapy goals of CBT are: 

– Restore, maintain, or improve a person’s self-esteem and self-efficacy, psychological functioning, and adaptive skills

– Improve symptoms, show the way to more positive ways of thinking

– Encourage a more effective, helpful, or positive organization of daily life

– Return to the level of functioning that existed before the crisis and prevent relapse and if this cannot be done (e.g., in the case of chronic pain), work on acceptance and adaptive strategies

– Give back to clients the freedom to decide how to live their lives

What happens in a CBT session?

– After in-depth analysis of the underlying mechanisms of the disorder or issue, a treatment protocol is presented to the client. 

– If accepted, the client and therapist work together using CBT methods to alleviate symptoms and work toward long-lasting change.

– These methods may include work on thought processes, such as cognitive restructuring or they may work on behaviours, using a technique such as systematic desensitizing. Sometimes third wave methods are incorporated, focusing more on emotions, such as meditation. 

– CBT is a structured type of therapy during which the client is expected to actively keep working on the change process, for example, he/ she might be asked to keep a daily journal in which to record automatic thoughts. These automatic thoughts are then taken up in the next session for feedback. 

– This type of therapy is just as compassion-based as the others, the psychologist’s posture and essential role – that of empathetic listening and authenticity – remains the central aspect of his/ her work.