Cognitive behavioural therapy or CBT is a psychological therapy technique that is used for changing your thought patterns to live a better life. The therapy works on the basis that the way you interpret daily events has an effect on how you behave. This, in turn, affects how you feel. The technique is very goal-oriented that focuses on everyday events and behaviours.
Problems such as stress, anxiety, grief, relationship complications can be solved using CBT techniques. It is a collaborative therapy where the participation of both the patient and counsellor is required.
What is Cognitive behavioural therapy?
The primary concept of Cognitive behavioural therapy is that your feelings have a profound impact on your behaviour. For example, if you are scared of facing an accident while driving and constantly think about it, you might not be able to drive at all.
So, the goal of any counsellor in CBT is to teach their patients that they cannot control all aspects of their lives or the world around them. However, they can control how they interpret the day-to-day events and react to these events.
CBT can be used to treat the following mental issues:
In order to combat negative thoughts and behaviours, the counsellor will help you identify problematic thoughts or beliefs. This is the initial stage and is called functional analysis. The stage is very important for understanding the thoughts and feelings that lead to these beliefs. However, the process can be difficult if you have problems with introspection.
The next part of the therapy deals with the identification of the actual behaviours that may contribute to mental problems. The counsellor will teach you the real-world skills that you can put to use. So, if you are facing any kind of addiction, you will learn techniques to cope up with social situations that might trigger a relapse.
CBT strategies to change your thoughts
The most common and effective CBT techniques are as follows:
You can start maintaining a diary or journal to write down your thoughts and emotions. This might contain the time when the thought arises, the intensity, its source and how you reacted. This helps you to identify your thoughts patterns and tendencies. Writing them down helps to describe your feelings clearly and cope with them.
Exposure and Response Prevention
This is a technique mostly used for OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) cases. Here, you have to expose yourself to a situation that might trigger a compulsive response in you. But you do your best to stop behaving compulsively. Journaling can be used to understand how the technique makes you feel.
Here, you will be exposed to the bodily sensations that trigger panic or anxiety. The negative beliefs arise during these situations. You will understand that the panic symptoms are not dangerous.
Progressive muscle relaxation
This helps you to relax muscle groups of your body at a time until the entire body is at rest. You can play a video or some audio guidance. This helps you to relax, calm your nerves and stay focused.
You can use a guidance video to relax and calm your breath. It will help you to stay more balanced, be more peaceful, and take better decisions. This technique is popular while practising mindfulness.
If you are new to CBT, it might be a problem initially to cope up with negative feelings. Listen to your counsellor and try to focus more on positive thoughts and activities.