What is CBT?
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) investigates the links between thoughts, emotions, and behavior. It is a directive, time-limited, the structured approach to treat and manage various mental health disorders. It aims to reduce distress by helping patients to develop more adaptive cognitions and behaviors. It is the most effective therapy mechanism. In other words, how people’s emotions are determined mainly by how they interpret situations rather than by the cases themselves.
Our thought patterns and the content of these things is outlined in three cognition levels:
- Core beliefs
- Dysfunctional assumptions
- Negative automatic thoughts
Core beliefs can be defined as deeply held beliefs about self, others, and the world. Core beliefs are mainly learned early in life and are influenced by childhood experiences and seen as unchangeable. Dysfunctional assumptions are rigid and inflexible rules for living that many people adopt. These may be unrealistic and, therefore, maladaptive. Negative automatic thoughts (NATs) refer to ideas that are involuntarily activated only under certain situations. They could occur during the depression, low self-esteem too.
What are the key elements of CBT?
CBT aims to teach patients to be their therapist by assisting them in comprehending their current ways of thinking and behaving and equipping them with the tools to change their maladaptive cognitive and behavioral patterns.
The fundamental elements of CBT may be grouped into those that:
- foster an environment of collaborative empiricism
- support the structured, problem-orientated focus of CBT.
Collaborative empiricism is founded upon establishing a collaborative therapeutic relationship in which the therapist and patient work hand in hand as a team to point out maladaptive cognitions and behavior, test their validity, and make revisions whenever needed. This collaborative process’s primary objective is to assist patients properly define problems and acquire skills in managing these problems. CBT also relies on the therapeutic relationship’s non-specific elements, such as rapport, genuineness, understanding, and empathy. To assist this collaborative relationship, the therapist explains the reasoning behind the cognitive-behavioral model and further brings this out using examples from the patient’s personal experience.
The focus of CBT is problem-oriented, with a focus on the now. It focuses on ‘here and now’ challenges and complexities. Rather than focusing on the distress or symptoms resulting from previous experiences, it looks for ways to improve a patient’s current state of mind. CBT involves mutually agreed goal setting. Goals should be ‘SMART,’ i.e., specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-limited. CBT sessions are organized to increase treatment efficiency, improve learning, and focus therapeutic efforts on particular problems and potential solutions. Sessions start with a goal-setting process in which the therapist helps the patient choose items that can lead to productive therapeutic work in that particular session. Moreover, homework assignments are used to extend the patient’s efforts beyond the confines of the treatment session and reinforce CBT concepts’ learning.
CBT is a structured and time-limited type of treatment. For something like anxiety or depression, a course of CBT lasts typically 5–20 sessions. Suppose axis II disorders are present, which are personality disorders or intellectual disabilities. In such a case, treatment may need to be extended due to the lifelong, pervasive pattern of these disorders and slower change observed with CBT.