What is CBT and what can it do for you?

What is CBT?

CBT stands for Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. It aims to help change unhelpful patterns of thinking (cognition) to more helpful or useful patterns. The theory assumes that thoughts come before behaviour, so that by changing how we think about things, we automatically change the way we react or behave.

What can it help with?

CBT can help with:

  • Anxiety and worrying
  • Depression
  • Obsessive compulsive disorders
  • Sleeping problems
  • Relationship problems
  • Lack of assertiveness
  • Irrational fears and phobias
  • Anger problems
  • Lack of confidence

What can I expect to happen?

Different therapists use different techniques, but generally CBT tends to be fairly short term (often 3-6 sessions) although this is usually flexible. Typically, the therapist will usually perform an initial assessment during the first session to establish the problem and formulate a treatment plan.

You may be taught relaxation techniques as well as strategies for changing unhelpful thought patterns. In addition, therapists may set homework! This would consist of techniques and strategies or tasks to practice at home. One of the main advantages of CBT over other forms of therapy is that clients tend to see improvements very quickly, often after just one session.

Do I need to dwell on the past?

In CBT the main focus is on changing behaviour for the future, rather than spending a great deal of time analysing how or why it started. However, it is sometimes helpful to the client to know how patterns of thinking and behaviour started in order to identify and be aware of potential triggers.

For example, knowing that a client had a previous relationship with a manipulative, controlling partner helps them to understand why they feel vulnerable and threatened whenever they are asked for a date.

Some examples of how CBT works

An example of how CBT works would be someone who gets very nervous (cognition) before social situations such as a party and drinks too much in order to relax (behaviour). They are nervous because they worry a great deal about what they imagine people are thinking about them.

CBT would aim to help them adopt a more realistic view of how much people are thinking about them (probably very little, if at all) and accept that they can’t know or influence what others are thinking anyway. This results in the client limiting or stopping the worrying (cognition) and not feeling the need to drink so much (behaviour).

A further example would be a client who becomes unreasonably angry whenever anyone criticises them, even if they know it is justified. The therapist may help the client to explore how or why their angry feelings began.

Realising that their parents were highly critical and that they were often made to feel inadequate or ashamed helps the client to understand why they over-react, and that anger, whilst it was a very natural reaction to their treatment as a child, is no longer appropriate. The therapist would then go on to offer techniques and strategies for anger management.

Is there anything else I should know?

Like any therapy, CBT requires commitment from the client. Sometimes the strategies you are asked to practice may be challenging for you and may require a lot of practice. However, once you have become aware that you have a problem and made a decision to change, you have already started to change the way you think.

Working with a skilled and experienced therapist and making a real effort yourself, you are likely to achieve lasting results which can lead to a more satisfying and fulfilling way of living.

CBT Counselling Langley SloughAbout The Author 

Wendy Gregory is a fully qualified Counsellor and Psychotherapist located in Langley, Slough. She has been practising for ten years and typically sees clients from the surrounding areas of Slough, Windsor, Maidenhead and Uxbridge.

Wendy uses a range of therapeutic approaches, including Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), counselling, assertiveness training, schema therapy.

Find out more about Wendy’s work by visiting her GoToSee profile page here

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