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Cognitive behavioral therapy: Procedure and effects

You might have informed yourself about the topic psychotherapy already. If yes, then you probably have recognized, that there are plenty of methods. Each of them has a specific way of treatment and concentrates on a different main focus. In this article, you will learn more about cognitive behavioural therapy. It is one of the most used psycho-social interventions and it is also the type of therapy where there are a lot of studies about.

Cognitive behavioral therapy – What’s that?

When we talk about cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), we mean a combination of cognitive therapy and behavioural therapy. If this form of intervention would be your first choice, it would follow one concrete goal. The aim of it would be, that you would be more and more aware of your thoughts, expectations and your attitude. For you, it is all about realizing and changing your “wrong” and stressful beliefs. CBT therapists work with the mindset, that things can only harm as much as we see them as harm- or stressful. Therefore, your wellbeing is connected to your feelings, thoughts and in conclusion, also to your behaviour .

How cognitive behavioral therapy works

We all have one or other destructive thought patterns. If this develops into a mental disorders professional help is very important. An example of such thought patterns would be “overgeneralization”. When overgeneralizing, you take a negative event and generalize it. Even more: You see this event in every situation, that reminds you of the negative happening. Catastrophizing is also such a pattern. In this context, you form them to one exaggerated conclusion over an event, that scares you. Through cognitive behavioural therapy, you learn, how to transform destructive thoughts into realistic, less harmful ones. Furthermore, you learn how to be in control of your thoughts again. The main goal is to live your life without therapeutical help again.

Cases where CBT is highly effective

CBT is the best choice when you suffer from depression, anxiety or obsessive-compulsive disorder and addictive disorder. Especially, because scientists know that those mental illnesses go hand in hand with destructive thought patterns. This form of psychological treatment helps also with physical problems, such as tinnitus, rheumatism, or chronic pain. It is all about optimizing your wellbeing through a new way of thinking. Cognitive-behavioural therapy starts in the here and now. So it helps the most if you want to face your problems at this very moment. Unlike psychoanalysis, CBT does not look deeper into your past.

The process of cognitive behavioral therapy

In the first session, you talk about your actual problems to your therapist. You are allowed to say what you wish and what you hope for. Based on that, a therapy plan and treatment goals are set. Sometimes it is part of cognitive-behavioural therapy, to keep a journal. Together with your therapist, you will have a look over the following: Do you see things as they are? What happens, if you handle a concrete situation differently than before? In your sessions, you talk about problems and progress regularly. A CBT is a relatively short term. Depending on your topic, it needs between 10 and 30 sessions. A CBT is a relatively short term. Depending on your problem, it needs between 10 and 30 sessions.

How therapists make you feel better – methods

Therapists work with different methods. Besides talks, there are relaxation and confrontation techniques, imagination practices and systematic desensitization. Moreover, you get homework between the sessions. Those are the ways you can transform negative thoughts:

  • Catastrophizing: You imagine the worst case of every situation. For example: “If I would quit my job, I would never find a new one ever again.” Helpful thought: “I am sure that I will find a new job.”
  • Black-and-white thinking (splitting): An event is either good or bad. For example: “If I am not able to do it, I am a loser.” Helpful thought: “Even if I am not able to do it, there are plenty of things, I am good at.”
  • Mind-reading: You are sure that you can read other’s minds and that you know, what others think about you. For example: “My partner thinks that I am boring.” Helpful thought: “As long as my partner spends his free time with me, he probably enjoys my company.”

If you realize that you are lost in your thought patterns, do not wait to get psychological support. Be honest and ask yourself: What’s the better option? Spending ten to thirty hours, solving your problems or suffer your whole life?



Fotocredits: iStock.com/ilkercelik

Published on: 30. July 2020
Mental Health - Nicole Inez Fuchs