Negative patterns of behaviour often require intervention because of the potential harm it may bring not just to the one concerned but also to the people around him. Most criminals share a history of negative behavioural patterns leading to their unwanted social behaviour. Persons who inflict harm upon themselves also display psychological disorders. Early intervention through a psychological technique known as cognitive behavioural therapy is therefore crucial as the more ingrained a pattern has become, the more difficult it may be to change a person's negative behaviour. Cognitive behavioural therapy has been proven to be effective in the treatment of various psychological disorders such as depression, anxiety, personality and eating disorders, and substance abuse.
Underlying theory of cognitive behavioural therapy
Cognitive behavioural therapy is based on the idea that thoughts mediate between stimuli and emotions. This means that it is the way we think about a stimuli or external event that produces our feelings, and not the situation itself. While you may not be able to do much about the stimuli or event, you can change the way you think about it to elicit a positive feeling or state of calm. This presupposes two things:
- that you are aware of your thoughts and can change them
- that your thoughts about a stimuli or event may not always reflect reality
Cognitive behavioural therapy sessions
Therapy may be done individually or in groups. The treatment period is short and time-limited and goals are set at the beginning of each session. Treatment using this psychological technique is not perpetual and you may experience results after a series of sessions. Most therapists use the Socratic method of question and answer to get a good understanding of what is bothering you or what your goals are. Thereafter, you will be encouraged to ask yourself some questions to test the rationale of your thoughts or to consider other possibilities aside from your original thoughts.
Your therapist will teach you specific techniques or concepts during each session. All these techniques have one thing in common: they are based on fact or rational thinking. The inductive method, for example, will teach you to view your thoughts as hypotheses or guesses that may be questioned and tested against what the reality is. If your hypothesis contradicts reality, then you will be encouraged to adjust your thought or hypothesis to be consistent with reality. Your therapist will not teach or tell you what to do but he will show you how to think and behave to achieve your goals.
While each session naturally involves a dialogue between you and the therapist, cognitive behavioural therapy is more than just talk. The goal of therapy is to get you to unlearn your unwanted reactions to a specific stimulus and to learn better ways of reacting. As you begin to make progress, the therapist will ask you to examine yourself and express how and why you are doing well. It is when you are able to understand how and why you are improving that you will also learn how to stay well even after the sessions end. Cognitive behavioural therapy extends beyond the therapist's clinic as you may be given reading assignments and practical exercises to do while you are at home. Homework will help you retain and practise techniques learned in your sessions.Originally published on Jul 28, 2009