CBT has been practised and studied since the early twentieth century when studies on animals linked good behaviour with good feelings.
By the mid-twentieth century, more studies filled the gaps. The opportunities to use these practices within mental health care blossomed, with Dr Aaron Temkin Beck pioneering the way forward.
Dr Aaron Beck, otherwise known as the godfather of CBT. The idea for developing this form of psychotherapy took root when Aaron Beck began to notice that his patients with depression often verbalised thoughts that were lacking in validity and noted characteristic “cognitive distortions” in their thinking.
Dr Aaron Beck then expanded and refined his approach to CBT over time. As a result, it is now widely used to treat various psychological disorders, including anxiety, phobias, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and eating disorders, among others.
Due to Dr Becks’ study of his parents, he is also known for creating the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI), a widely-used self-report questionnaire for measuring the severity of depressive symptoms. In addition, over the years, he and his colleagues have developed several other assessment tools, such as the Beck Anxiety Inventory (BAI) and the Beck Hopelessness Scale (BHS).
What is CBT
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, or CBT, is a collaborative and goal-focused therapy based on the concept that thoughts, feelings, behaviours and physiology are interconnected.
As patients and clients, we work together to identify these and change problematic thinking styles or behaviour patterns so we can feel better. We aim to identify problems and set goals using clinical CBT models. This means setting tasks for you during your week so we can see some progression, again giving you that feel-good factor.
How will CBT make me feel better or improve my outlook?
When we feel low in mood, anxious, angry, or exhausted, we create negative thoughts and negative feelings. Before you know it, these negative thoughts have changed our behaviour.
We may avoid public transport, cut off friends and family, or neglect our physical health.
If left untreated, negative thoughts or unhealthy repetitive behaviour can result in a diagnosis of phobias or disorders such as OCD or agoraphobia.CBT works by understanding the link between an individual’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviours and then working together to break any negative patterns and replace them with positive ones.
For example – If we THINK a situation is dangerous, we FEEL anxious, so we avoid it, and therefore our BEHAVIOUR has been changed by the way we are thinking.
If we were to ask you to put yourself in the same situation again and again, and you were indeed safe every time, eventually, your brain would think you are not in any danger, so you do not feel anxious, and we no longer avoid that situation.
When would CBT be recommended as a therapy?
CBT may be recommended as a therapy for a range of mental health problems, including:
- Depression: CBT is an effective treatment for depression, especially when combined with medication.
- Anxiety disorders: CBT is commonly used to treat anxiety disorders such as social anxiety disorder, generalised anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and specific phobias.
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD): CBT can effectively treat OCD by helping individuals learn to manage their obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviours.
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD): CBT is a recommended treatment for PTSD and can help individuals learn to improve their symptoms and manage their overall functioning.
- Eating disorders: CBT effectively treats eating disorders such as bulimia nervosa, anorexia nervosa, and binge eating disorder.
- Substance use disorders: CBT can effectively treat substance use disorders by helping individuals learn coping strategies and develop a more positive mindset towards recovery.
- Sleep disorders: CBT can effectively treat sleep disorders such as insomnia by helping individuals learn to manage their thoughts and behaviours around sleep.
Overall, CBT may be recommended as a therapy for individuals experiencing a wide range of mental health problems. It is a flexible and adaptable approach that a therapist can tailor to meet the specific needs of each individual.
What can I expect from a typical CBT session?
A typical CBT session usually lasts 50-60 minutes and follows a structured approach. Here’s what you can expect from a typical CBT session:
- Goal setting: At the beginning of the session, you and your therapist will set an agenda and determine what you want to work on during the session.
- Review of progress: Your therapist will ask you about any progress you have made since the last session and discuss any challenges you may have faced.
- Cognitive restructuring: A therapist will help you identify negative thought patterns and beliefs contributing to your mental health problems. They will then work with you to challenge and reframe these thoughts into more positive and realistic ones.
- Behavioural strategies: Your therapist may teach you specific behavioural strategies to help you manage your symptoms, such as relaxation techniques, exposure therapy, or behavioural experiments.
- Homework: Your therapist may give you homework assignments to complete between sessions, such as journaling or practising new coping strategies.
- Review of session: At the end, you and your therapist will review what you have discussed and plan for the next session.
Mental health problems can have a significant impact on quality of life. Therefore, it is crucial to have therapies that work. CBT is a natural therapy that is evidence-based, from research and clinical practice. The science behind it is indisputable.
CBT is a collaborative approach, and your therapist will work with you to develop a treatment plan tailored to your specific needs and goals. Your therapist will also provide support and guidance throughout the therapy process to help you achieve your treatment goals. It is recommended by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE).