Extensive clinical research dating back to the 1960’s has found strong evidence supporting the effectiveness of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) in treating a wide range of mental health issues including mood disorders such as depression and anxiety. CBT became the mainstream psychological treatment of choice throughout the 1980’s and 1990’s, due to its effectiveness and ability to be administered efficiently. Today, cognitive-behavioural approaches are utilised to treat a whole spectrum of psychiatric disorders including depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, adjustment difficulties, anger management issues, addiction, eating disorders, and issues around trauma and personality.
What is Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy (CBT)?
The main components of CBT are spelled out in its name:
Cognitive = Thoughts. CBT seeks to change or restructure the way we think
Behavioural = Behaviours or actions. CBT seeks to change our behaviour.
Therapy = Thoughts and behaviours are explored and targeted as part of a therapeutic relationship with a therapist such as a psychologist or other allied health clinician.
In CBT, you and your and therapist work together to set up a series of treatment goals aiming to reduce symptoms whilst enhancing quality of life and well-being. Working towards these goals involves using therapy sessions to explore how behaviours and thoughts impact on mood. Homework tasks are set for you to complete in between sessions – these tasks are important for the treatment to be effective.
In a CBT framework, you are encouraged to change behaviours in order to improve mood and well-being. For example, you might be encouraged to improve self-care, increase social support, or expand pleasurable activities. In addition, you are supported to change or restructure patterns of thinking by challenging your thoughts in a process called cognitive restructuring. Skills are taught for identifying thoughts and changing thinking patterns. This process is depicted visually in shown above. In cognitive restructuring, rigid and negative thoughts are restructured into alternative ways of thinking. Often the restructured thoughts are more flexible, realistic, and accurate – and these thoughts lead to improvements in mood disorders such as depression and anxiety.
Recent trends in psychotherapy have seen a shift towards more developed forms of CBT such as Schema Therapy. Schema therapy involves identifying and managing deeply held core beliefs that can lead to emotional dysreguation and unhelpful behaviours.
For more information about CBT or schema therapy please contact us.