What is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy?
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (or CBT) is an effective evidence-based psychological treatment for a wide range of mental and emotional issues and disorders. CBT aims to identify and challenge negative or unhelpful emotions, behaviours and thoughts (cognitions) and replace them with more effective and helpful ones to learn strategies for self-help and coping. By identifying these unhelpful thought processes, CBT aims to highlight to the individual how thinking impacts their mood and to teach them to think in ways that are more beneficial to their wellbeing.
When to use CBT
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is used to treat a range of psychological problems, some of which include:
- anxiety disorders such as social phobia, obsessive-compulsive disorder or post-traumatic stress disorder
- low self-esteem
- uncontrollable anger
- irrational fears
- substance misuse, such as smoking, drinking or other drug use
- problem gambling
- eating disorders
- marriage or relationship problems
- certain emotional or behavioural problems in children or teenagers.
How does it work?
The therapist and client work together as a team to identify and solve problems, and therapists help clients to change their thinking and behaviour and thus overcome their difficulties.
For example, if you were speaking with a friend at a function and you noticed them look over your shoulder mid-way through the conversation what sort of thoughts would run through your mind? Possible responses might include:
Thought: They think I’m boring. Emotion: Hurt and embarrassed. Behaviour: You end the conversation prematurely by saying you need to go to the bathroom.
Thought: How rude of them! Emotion: Anger. Behaviour: You abruptly finish the conversation without explanation and walk away.
Thought: They seem distracted. I hope they are okay. Emotion: Concern. Behaviour: You observing your friend more closely to try to figure out if everything is okay with them.
Thought: I wonder if they’ve just seen someone that they know arrive? Emotion: Neutral. Behaviour: You continue on with the conversation as usual.
We each interpret situations like the one above in a unique way based on our past experiences, our assumptions, our mood that day and many other factors.
At Psychology Melbourne, we use CBT in individual therapy as well as group settings.