Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a branch of psychotherapy that works with the client’s thinking and behavior. This is a direction with scientifically proven effectiveness.
Many people are afraid to go to a psychologist because they do not know how psychotherapy works or what to expect from it. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is proven scientifically. The main features of CBT are its work protocol, focus on the client’s present rather than the past, short-term nature, and structured nature.
What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?
As the name implies, CBT combines two scientific psychological approaches: cognitive and behavioral. The first says that psychological problems and disorders are associated with beliefs and stereotypes of thinking. The second is that we learn to respond in a certain way to different stimuli, and this response can be changed.
CBT was discovered and developed by Aaron Beck in the 50s and 60s, originally to treat depression. But over time, this method has proven effective in dealing with other problems.
What Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Is Effective There
There are a variety of problems you can address with a CBT psychologist. But there is a range of requests for which this method of therapy works most effectively.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Depression
According to WHO statistics, depression is diagnosed in 3-7% of the world’s population, which is more than 300 million people. The main symptoms of the disorder are:
- depression and apathy for most of the day;
- feeling of guilt for no reason;
- loss of interest in things you used to enjoy;
- decreased libido;
- Sleep disturbances: insomnia, early awakenings, interrupted sleep;
- overeating or lack of appetite;
- suicidal thoughts.
If these symptoms persist for more than a few weeks, be sure to consult a psychologist.
CBT is still considered the most effective treatment for depression.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for OCD
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a condition in which a person has uncontrollable obsessive thoughts and repetitive actions. OCD is always accompanied by unbearable anxiety. Typical manifestations of the disorder include:
- fear of pollution and infection;
- fear of harming yourself and others;
- confidence that one’s own “bad” thoughts can materialize;
- accumulation of things.
OCD is based on the desire to control everything and the anxiety caused by the impossibility of total control. In CBT, clients with OCD learn to detect disturbing thoughts and change how they respond to them. In addition, she gives relaxation techniques that help cope with anxiety without compulsions.
Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for PTSD
Psychological trauma can get stuck in memories. A person feels constant anxiety, sees nightmares, and suffers from obsessive thoughts, and when he meets a “trigger” (an object that reminds him of a traumatic situation), he reacts as if he is experiencing it again.
CBT helps reduce the fear and anxiety associated with trauma. Often, due to trauma, a person develops avoidance behaviors: they are afraid to go to certain places and communicate with certain people. In CBT sessions, the client learns new ways to deal with stress without avoiding it.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Panic Attacks
An outbreak of intense anxiety, heart pounding, and no air to breathe is the most common description of a panic attack. Often, panic attack goes away without emotional symptoms, and people turn to neurologists, endocrinologists, and cardiologists with them.
Often, people fear that a panic attack could lead to insanity or death. In CBT sessions, you and the psychologist will work with these thoughts and refute them. You will also develop a new plan of behavior in stressful situations and master relaxation techniques.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy For Anxiety, Fears, And Phobias
Does anxiety prevent you from sleeping, eating, working, and enjoying life?
As a rule, anxiety has no rational or objective reasons. In CBT sessions, you will work with disturbing thoughts – identify them, refute them, and replace them with more rational ones.
Basic Principles of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
CBT believes that emotions are caused by thoughts, not the other way around. The way we think influences our beliefs, feelings, and behavior. If you change your thinking, you can change your life.
Some thoughts appear in our heads as if “on the machine”; we do not even have time to track them and realize them. However, they trigger an emotional response.
For example, suppose you dropped a cup and immediately thought, “Here I am clumsy!”You might not even notice this thought, but after it, you will feel a sense of irritation toward yourself. And this is just one thought—and we have about 20 of them per day. If each of them is negative, the mood for the whole day will be spoiled. And then there will be self-doubt, chronic stress, and negative ideas about the world.
CBT offers specific techniques for tracking and working with these thoughts. The essence of these techniques is to take a more rational, detached look at your own judgments.
Cognitive biases are erroneous, irrational ideas that lead to psychological problems. A striking example of cognitive bias can be observed when a person, after a couple of unsuccessful relationships, says, “I will never have a normal “I am not made for love,” or “Everyone rejects me.” He draws a general conclusion based on insufficient data. The problem is that this conclusion begins to have an impact on his life; after all, he lives confident in his own rightness.
The CBT therapist will suggest that the client disprove their irrational beliefs and replace them with more realistic ones.
How Long Does Psychotherapy Last?
CBT is considered a short-term referral, but the exact duration of the course cannot be predicted in advance. It depends on several factors:
- The complexity of the request
- The individual characteristics of the client (tendency to reflect, willingness to change, trust in the therapist)
- ability and willingness to do homework from the therapist.
For standard requests (such as phobias, low self-esteem, and anxiety), therapy is usually not more than 20 sessions. However, working with mental and personality disorders may take longer, from six months to a year.