Whenever you search online for psychotherapies, you would see the term CBT popping up everywhere. Why is that? What makes this form of therapy so popular?

Well, this therapy model was founded by Aaron T. Beck. It has many roots from the philosophical to the behavioral school of psychology, but like most professionals at that time, Beck belonged to the psychoanalysis school, which was very famous in the 1900s.

In his private practice, beck noticed that there was a very strong link between what the clients thought and felt, with their behaviors. He slowly started to alter the therapy to fit a new model where clients are aided in identifying their problems and managing their beliefs about the situation.

His final model came out to be CBT, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, focusing more on treating depression. But using his model many more have come up since then, each individualized for specific problems and clients.

What is the benefit of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy over others?

This type of therapy is clear-cut, easier to understand but includes deep thinking and discussion. It has a fixed schedule and usually doesn’t go beyond a set number of sessions. Most treatments span from 5 to 10 months with a 60-minute session per week. It is a collaborative form of therapy that requires both the therapist and the client to work together and invest in the process. They both together have to identify, assess, formulate and solve the problems.

CBT can work for a lot of situations/disorders like:

  • Depression
  • Substance use disorder
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Relationship issues
  • Bipolar disorder
  • PTSD
  • Personality disorders
  • Fear

The biggest benefit of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is that it works with your core beliefs, which are the major cause of the way you react to something. These days through online counselling, one can go through CBT quite quickly, and it helps not to lose touch with your sessions, in the pandemic as well.

What is the basic idea in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy focuses on both cognitive and behavioral methodology, and as such contains multiple techniques that target both. The basic idea in CBT is that thoughts and feelings play a major role in forming a behavior than just the situation you are in.

Suppose, you have an exam, it is difficult and very important, you are calm and collected but your friend is not. Why? It is because of how she may appraise the situation as she may be more focused on how she isn’t good enough to give the exam than to actively make plans for study. This type of thinking gets us stuck into a loop, which later on causes serious mental health problems.

The ABC model of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy says that there are 3 important points that occur in a situation first is activating event(A) which is the situation that you are in which directly or indirectly affects you. The next is beliefs (B), which are the thoughts, underlying beliefs, or ideas that you have about the situation. The last is the consequence(C) which is the result of the situation or the behaviors you show.

We might think that because of the event (A), I behaved (C) in a certain way, or since there was an exam(A), I was stressed and angry(C).  But it is actually the belief that rules over consequences, i.e., it was because I thought I will fail (B) that I was stressed and angry(C). So, we see that B links A to C. In the case of a disorder or psychological issues, CBT focuses on changing the belief to help change the behavior.

There is another important aspect that will be shared by the therapist during the psychoeducation. It is the type of cognitive error people engages in. Cognitive errors are inaccurate thoughts or judgment which then feeds the cycle of negative appraisal of the situation. For example, if you get ignored by a ford at a part, you can think of many possible reasons., some may be beneficial, some not. But without any factual knowledge if we automatically think that “my friend hates me: or she is a bad person”, will lead to cognitive errors.

Some such examples of cognitive errors or cognitive distortions that people engage in are:

Overgeneralization: when we take a single fact and use it to draw out a conclusion. This fact is neither accurate nor contains the whole information. “I did not do good in my exam; I will never do well in my exam ever.”

All or nothing thinking: when it’s either this or that and no in-between. “I didn’t do good in math’s exam I am a complete failure.”

Catastrophizing: when we take a small incident and make it seem like a big event, usually in a negative sense. “I will fail my exam because I made a small mistake in the project.”

Filtering: where a person focuses only on the negative. “My friend ignored me; she doesn’t like me”

What is the basic process of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?

There is no need to be tensed about the process of therapy, it is fairly simple, you only need to give your best as you go through it. As soon as you enter the office, the therapist tries to form a rapport with you, you get to know each other, find a mode of communication you find comfortable. Then the therapist will take your history and discuss your problems in a depth. Once its decided CBT is to be used, they will ask for your consent, prior to which they will educate you over the basics of this therapy.

With that, the amount of session required, goals of the session, and other requirements are fulfilled. Remember this process is collaborative, meaning you have a lot of control over this session.  During the therapy, you would be required to take home some scheduled activity, which is one of the ways to help you stay connected with the process throughout the week. Sounds simple, doesn’t it?

These days, it is even easier to give Cognitive Behavioral Therapy through online counseling. Using the internet, social media, and other channels, online CBT is a popular concept. It cuts short on traveling time and is convenient for clients all around the world to join. Clients also find it easier to keep up with their scheduled activities, with the online counseling method.


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