Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is the name for a group of different talking therapies. It is proven effective in the treatment of depression, anxiety disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder and eating disorders.

How long does Cognitive Behavioural Therapy take?

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy usually takes about 12-20 sessions on average although some issues might require longer or more intensive treatment. Sessions usually take place weekly. However, in the later stages of therapy, the frequency of sessions may decrease to once every two weeks or once a month.

How does Cognitive Behavioural Therapy work?

According to the Cognitive Behavioural Therapy approach, our thoughts, feelings and behaviours are all connected and when we can change one, we can alter the others as well. Our feelings are not directly shaped by the situation we are in, but they are shaped by the way we perceive the situation. When we feel low or stressed out, we easily fall into the maladaptive and negative thinking patterns or unhelpful behaviours which then lead to mental health issues. If we can change how we approach to a situation, we can think more clearly, find better strategies to cope with the situation and behave accordingly, even if the situation does not change. Psychotherapy can also help you to change external circumstances if it is possible and if that is what you would like to do; however, it mostly equips us to deal with the external challenges while making them less challenging for us. In other words, if we can learn more adaptive thinking and behaviour patterns, we will be able to cope with difficult situations better, be more resilient and no longer suffer from mental health issues. For this reason, a variety of techniques are applied to change the way you think and behave in order to solve problems that disturb you in CBT sessions.

What are common thinking errors?

Many negative or useless thoughts come to our minds rapidly during our daily lives and we accept their validity without questioning their accuracy. Evidence shows us that when we find ourselves in a stressful situation or dealing with mental health problems such as anxiety, low mood, intrusive thoughts, traumas, we become much more likely to make thinking errors.

A Short List of Thinking Errors

  • Black and white thinking: It is the tendency to think in the extremes rather than seeing the shades of grades which are other potential scenarios.
  • Overgeneralization: This negative distortion takes one instance in your life and generalizes it as a pattern.
  • Jumping to the conclusions: When we think that we know the outcome of the situation without analysing the situation well and making a conclusion based on little or no evidence.
  • Fortune-telling: The distortion takes place when you assume that you know what the other person has on their mind without listening the other person well enough to collect evidence to evaluate the outcome realistically.
  • Personalization: As the name of the distortion is very self-explanatory, when we start taking things personally and take the blame for the things which we have no or little impact.
  • Catastrophizing: The distortion makes you to think the worst-case scenario although the worst-case scenarios rarely happen.

However, if we can stop these thoughts and test their accuracy, we are going to realize that many of our thoughts do not reflect the reality fully. Sometimes the thoughts that come to mind are true, but unhelpful. For example, the topic you are reading may seem really complicated to you. However, thinking like this is not helpful as it can reduce motivation to read and make it even more difficult for you to learn the subject. Especially when we struggle with mental health issues such as anxiety and low mood, we tend to think more negatively or maladaptively which as a result make the situation more difficult.

How does Cognitive Behavioural Therapy help to recovery?

CBT brings recovery while focusing on finding the unhelpful thinking and behaviour patterns and replacing them with the adaptive, useful and resilient ones.