Cognitive behavioural therapy

Cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) is a form of psychotherapy that aims to improve mental health. It's a problem-focused and action-oriented approach, helping individuals to develop coping strategies for solving current problems and changing unhelpful patterns in cognition, behaviours, and emotional regulation.

CBT is based on the cognitive model of emotional response. It proposes that our thoughts, feelings, physical sensations, and actions are interconnected, and that negative thoughts and feelings can trap us in a vicious cycle. CBT helps to break down overwhelming problems into smaller parts, making them easier to manage.

CBT can be useful in treating a range of disorders, including anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and phobias. The therapy is typically short-term, delivered over several weeks to a few months. It can be provided individually or in group sessions, and it's often combined with other therapies or medication, depending on the individual's needs.

In CBT, individuals work with a therapist to identify and challenge any negative thinking patterns and behaviours that may be causing emotional difficulties and distress. They learn to recognise the impact of their thinking on their feelings and behaviour and to re-evaluate their thought patterns in a more realistic and positive way.

CBT involves a range of techniques. Cognitive restructuring helps individuals to challenge irrational or negative thoughts, while behavioural techniques such as exposure therapy can help individuals to gradually face their fears. Relaxation techniques, stress management, and problem-solving strategies are also often incorporated into CBT.

Evidence shows that CBT can lead to significant improvement in functioning and quality of life. Studies have found that CBT can be as effective as medication in treating many mental health conditions. However, to be effective, CBT requires the individual to be committed and persistent in the process.

Cognitive behavioural therapy

The key principles of CBT include:

* Thoughts, emotions, and behaviours are interconnected: CBT is based on the understanding that an individual's thoughts, emotions, and behaviours are closely linked and influence one another.

* Focus on the present: CBT emphasises addressing current problems and practical solutions, rather than exploring the origins of psychological issues.

* Active participation: CBT requires individuals to actively engage in the therapy process, both during sessions and by completing homework assignments between sessions.

* Structured and time-limited: CBT is typically a short-term therapy, with a structured approach and specific goals.
CBT has been found to be effective in treating a wide range of mental health issues, including:

* Depression
* Anxiety disorders (such as generalised anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and social anxiety disorder)
* Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
* Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
* Eating disorders (such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa)
* Insomnia and other sleep disorders

CBT can also be beneficial for individuals seeking to improve their stress management, communication skills, or overall emotional well-being.
To apply CBT techniques for self-help:

* Identify negative thoughts: Recognise unhelpful thoughts and beliefs that may be contributing to emotional distress.

* Challenge negative thoughts: Evaluate the validity of unhelpful thoughts and consider alternative, more balanced perspectives.

* Replace negative thoughts with more positive or realistic ones: Practice reframing negative thoughts with more helpful and adaptive perspectives.

* Modify unhelpful behaviours: Identify maladaptive behaviours that contribute to emotional difficulties and replace them with healthier alternatives.

* Engage in problem-solving: Develop strategies to effectively address challenges and setbacks.

* Practice relaxation techniques: Incorporate relaxation methods, such as deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, or mindfulness, to help manage stress and anxiety.