What Is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy?

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is an approach to psychotherapy that aims to address dysfunctional emotions, behaviours and thoughts to boost happiness. Its main goal is to create changes in the patterns of thinking or behavior that are causes of people's difficulties and shift negative feelings to positive ones.

CBT works by changing attitudes and behaviours, focusing on the person's cognitive processes, such as thoughts, beliefs, images, and attitudes, and how these processes relate to how they deal with emotional problems.

What Is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy?

How Does Cognitive Behavioural Therapy Work?

In CBT, patients learn to identify, question, and make changes to their thoughts, attitudes and beliefs that affect their emotional and behavioural reactions and cause them difficulty.

By observing and recording their thoughts during upsetting situations, clients can work out how their thinking patterns contribute to emotional problems such as anxiety and depression. CBT helps clients to reduce these emotional problems by teaching them to:

  • Observe and identify distortions in their thinking
  • View thoughts as ideas on what is going on, rather than as facts
  • Stand back from their thinking and start considering situations from different perspectives

What Are the Benefits of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy?

People having particular emotional problems can benefit from CBT because it works through these issues by having a specific focus and goal. They will learn how to cope with various stressful situations in life and manage their emotions intelligently.

CBT is a practical tool for managing symptoms of mental illness and avoiding relapse, especially when standard medications aren't a good option. It helps people to restore their enthusiasm for life, resolve relationship conflicts and communicate effectively. What's more, it can address a host of emotional challenges such as:

  • Anger issues
  • Anxiety and panic attacks
  • Child and adolescent developmental problems
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Chronic pain
  • Depression
  • Drug problems or alcohol abuse 
  • Eating disorders
  • General health problems
  • Bad habits such as facial tics
  • Mood swings
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Phobias
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Schizophrenia
  • Sexual and relationship problems
  • Sleep disorders
  • Substance use 
  • Grief or loss
  • Emotional trauma due to abuse or violence
  • Medical conditions

What Can You Expect From Cognitive Behavioural Therapy?

The success of a CBT session depends on the partnership of the therapist and client. It's important for both to maintain a high level of openness and honesty. Before the therapy begins, the therapist will ask the client what's bothering them. Sometimes it would be hard to open up, but a trained therapist can guide the client with the right tools and make the process much easier. 

Exploring thoughts and feelings linked to painful or traumatic experiences can be upsetting at times, but it's crucial to the treatment process as it leads to healing. Cognitive behavioural therapy can be done face-to-face or remotely, so individuals who aren't comfortable with the idea of sitting in the same room as their therapist may request a consultation online.

A CBT session typically lasts for 30 minutes to an hour. The length of therapy depends on the issue at hand, but most people would attend five to 20 sessions to achieve lasting results.

Is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy Safe?

Considerable evidence shows that cognitive behavioural therapy is safe and more effective than anti-anxiety medications and mood stabilisers. While the client may cry or get upset while recalling hurtful or traumatic events in their life, they will not suffer the long-term adverse effects of drugs.