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What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, often referred to as CBT, is a combination of cognitive and behavioral therapies.

Cognitive Therapy is based on the idea that our ways of thinking can trigger or fuel certain health problems, such as anxiety, depression, and phobias, as well as other physical problems. Cognitive therapy helps individuals become aware of faulty and negative thoughts, so his/her experience of challenging situations becomes an opportunity for learning.

Behavioral Therapy aims at changing harmful and unhelpful behaviors. It focuses on responding to challenging situations in a more reasonable and effective ways.

How long is the duration of therapy?


CBT is generally considered short-term therapy, varying between 10 and 20 sessions. The length of treatment depends on the following factors:

🔵 The type of disorder

🔵 The severity of symptoms

🔵 How long you have been experiencing the symptoms before seeking treatment

🔵 Your response to therapy

🔵 How much stress you are experiencing during therapy

🔵 Level of social support

  • How does CBT help?

CBT helps individuals understand and manage their issues better. It helps clients to learn how to cope with the low mood and negative thinking in a healthier and effective manner.

CBT helps teach individuals how to create and sustain healthier coping tools and strategies, which can be used for mental health issues, general stress and negative emotions.

  1. What to expect from the therapy?

At first, you and your therapist might talk about why you have enrolled in CBT and what you want to achieve in therapy. After those initial sessions, the cognitive behavioral work begins. While you are in CBT, you can expect the following:

🔵 Talk about the way you think (The core concept of CBT is identifying and changing negative and harmful thoughts. Be prepared to talk about your thoughts a lot. As you talk about problems you’d like to overcome and the situations you find stressful, your therapist will ask you deeper questions. For example, they will want to know what you were thinking before, during, and after you encountered a stressful situation)

🔵 Identify Harmful Thought Patterns & Hurtful Emotions (As you talk about your thinking with your therapist, you’ll work together to identify whether your thoughts are helpful or unhelpful, beneficial or harmful)

🔵 Break Down, Analyze, and Solve Problems (As you discuss problems with your therapist, you’ll learn to break down your problems into thoughts, physical feelings, and actions. First, you may talk about your thoughts about the situation. Next, you might talk about how you felt physically when faced with the challenge and then you and your therapist will analyze your actions based upon thoughts and physical sensations)

🔵 Learn New Coping Skills (As you break down and analyze challenging situations, your therapist will introduce you to new CBT strategies that can help you develop healthier thought patterns, which in turn, will help improve the health of your emotions and behaviors)

🔵 Have Homework After Your Sessions (You should expect homework. Your homework might include keeping a journal of your thoughts and emotions throughout the week, reading a book related to your challenges and issues, creating a list of possible solutions, or doing relaxation exercises)

  1. Which mental health disorders does CBT help with?

Cognitive behavioral therapy is used to treat a wide range of issues. Mental health disorders that may improve with CBT include:

  • Anxiety disorders
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
  • Depression
  • Eating Disorders
  • Anger Management
  • Relationship issues
  • Drug and alcohol abuse
  • Body dysmorphic disorder
  • Chronic pain
  • Persistent fatigue
  1. How is CBT different from other talking therapies?

CBT is a evidence-based talking therapy. It is different from other therapies as it is structured and focused on specific issues and outcomes. Different from other forms of talking therapies, CBT is focused on the present; the focus is on current issues and learning how to resolve current issues.

  • Getting the most out of CBT
  • Approach psychotherapy as a partnership. You achieve the best outcomes when you share decision-making, and when you are actively participating in the therapy.
  • Be open and honest. Success of therapy depends on how willing you are to share your true feelings and experiences.
  • Do not expect instant results. CBT will address emotional issues, which may be uncomfortable, and sometimes painful. It might take several sessions to make noticeable progress.
  • Follow up regularly. You might feel tempted to skip few sessions, but this will disrupt your progress. Regular session, at regular intervals has shown to be the most effective.
  • Follow your treatment plan. If your therapist asks you to do an activity between sessions, make sure you at least attempt to do it.
  • If you feel therapy is not working, discuss it with your therapist.
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