Cognitive behavioural therapy – more commonly referred to as CBT is a school of psychotherapy that focuses on the way people think and act in order to help them overcome their emotional and behavioural problems.
Cognitive means mental processes like thinking. The word ‘cognitive’ refers to everything that goes on in your mind including dreams, memories, images, thoughts and attention.
Behaviour refers to everything that you do. This includes what you say, how you try to solve problems, how you act, and avoidance. Behaviour refers to both action and inaction, for example biting your tongue instead of speaking your mind is still a behaviour even though you are trying not to do something.
Therapy is a word used to describe a systematic approach to combating a problem, illness, or irregular condition.
The CBT illustration shows how your thoughts, feelings, and behaviours interact. Your thoughts affect how you feel and how you feel influences your thinking. For example if you’re having negative thoughts, your mood is likely to be low. The lower your mood, the more likely you are to act in a negative manner and to think negatively.
The combination of feeling negative, thinking negative and acting negatively, will eventually influence the way you see the world around you. As a result, you are more likely to focus on the negatives in your life and the world in general and therefore accumulate more negatives. Cognitive behaviour therapy involves learning to identify and challenge our thoughts. In doing so we transform our feelings and gain a heightened sense of wellbeing.
Irrational and unhelpful thinking patterns are often referred to as Cognitive Distortions. Everyone experiences cognitive distortions to some degree, but in their more extreme forms they can severely impact on our lives.
CBT pays a lot of attention to changing both unhealthy thinking patterns and unhealthy patterns of behaviour.
Making demands and commands, thinking in terms of ‘must, ‘should' and ‘have to’, about yourself, the world around you, and other people is a fundamental problem. Such thinking limits your flexibility to adapt to reality.
CBT has a tremendous effect on clients with psychological problems. The effects of this treatment have been proven to be extremely powerful in treating many psychological problems by approaching irrational and or negative automatic thoughts and changing behavioural reactions to fearful and avoidance causing situations. CBT is powerful because it helps people to understand the detrimental significance of the negative thinking processes and negative behaviour. It changes thinking and belifes from negative perception to fact based understanding. This in turn, has a most powerful influence on affecting the client’s behaviour in a healthy and positive direction.