Updated: Dec 29, 2021
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy For Mental Health
When it comes to mental health, there is no one “perfect” method that works for everyone. Some people love to talk and discuss how they feel about themselves and their emotions, but others may not like it at all. Some people may not like to even reflect on their own thoughts and feelings, unaware of how those factors contribute to mental health issues like anxiety and depression. Today we’re going to discuss a therapy that specifically deals with such cases, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).
What Is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy?
CBT is a short-term therapy technique that emphasizes a conscious focus on thought patterns. Seeking to identify and alter problematic habits, CBT is helpful in all areas of treatment, and has been shown to help people reduce stress, deal with grief, and overcome many of life’s adversities in a healthier and more productive way.
It works for the same reason that setting goals does, or imagining someone else’s perspective does: what we think and do affects the way we feel. It causes us to re-interpret life events, how we think about them, and how we will feel about them moving forward – because studies show that changing our thought patterns, once we identify them, can change our feelings and emotions.
In CBT treatments, problems are broken up into five interconnected areas: situations, thoughts, emotions, physical feelings, and actions. Many people prefer CBT to other therapies because it is very specific to the problem at hand, and involves no surprises or vague conversations.
The Benefits of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
This specific focus of CBT means that it offers a variety of benefits that can each appeal to different people. This makes it a popular choice for those who want to identify and address problematic thoughts and emotional patterns, and it can help highlight healthy paths forward into a more fulfilling life.
CBT is a relatively brief treatment
If you’re wondering how long CBT takes to be effective, you should know that it generally works on a shorter timeframe than other therapies. The usual range is between 5-20 sessions to see results, though this is of course just a guideline.
CBT can teach practical skills
During CBT sessions, personal skills that contribute to overall mental health and growth are learned and reinforced. They are assigned to specific out-of-office applications and used to overcome the problem (or problems) that brought you in to counselling in the first place. From there, they are easier to generalize to other areas of your life.
CBT promotes mindfulness and emotional health
By utilizing elements of mindfulness and present awareness, people using CBT can gain a better handle on their emotional regulation and relaxation techniques. This, in turn, leads to better strategies for overcoming stress and problems in the future.
CBT can reduce symptoms of negative thoughts and conditions
For many people, a major benefit of cognitive behavioural therapy is that it gradually reduces the symptoms of overwhelming disorders. The effects of previously life-altering conditions, such as PTSD, can be lessened or even controlled, and the reduction in symptom manifestation can greatly increase quality of life and emotional well-being.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy Techniques
There are several different techniques used in CBT, and all of them are based around understanding how you think about certain things. While all of them involve some element of psychological education on negative thought patterns, here are some of the most common types of cognitive behavioral therapy methods:
1. Cognitive restructuring is the process of identifying negative thoughts known as cognitive distortions, including phenomena like all-or-nothing thinking, overgeneralization, and emotional reasoning. Once found, these thoughts can be restructured in a more rational way, reducing their hold over the person they belong to.
2. Thought recording and deconstructing is another process of identifying negative thought patterns. The patient simply records their automatic thoughts (the thousands of unprompted ideas, images, and concepts that manifest throughout each day) by writing them down. Seeing such thoughts in a concrete form makes them more tangible, and easier to break down and address the root causes of internal negativity.
3. Behavioural experiments are a way for therapists and individuals to test the validity of beliefs, and are among the most powerful techniques available in CBT. There are many different observational forms and formats, but it boils down to collecting information that can be used to prove a deep-held believe to be accurate. In the case of mental health, such information can prove crucial in redefining thought patterns and forging a new way forward.
4. Exposure therapy is sometimes used for people with OCD, PTSD, phobias, or other similar conditions. It involves repeated, but controlled, exposure to items or situations that cause anxiety, with the aim of using that exposure to get more comfortable with them. It is done several times a day, slowly getting more advanced, until the issue at hand is conquered.
We use CBT as part of our therapy in Calgary, incorporating it with other types of therapies, such as the Gottman Method or Accelerated Resolution Therapy, to best suit our clients. If you’re interested in learning more about CBT, let us know and we can find out together if this type of treatment will work for you!