Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) is perhaps one of the most well-known and well-researched of the psychological treatments and can be used with a wide range of conditions, including; depression, anxiety, panic, obsessive-compulsive disorder, stress, phobias, etc.
CBT combines cognitive therapy, that is, how you think, with behavioural therapy, how you act or behave. A central feature of CBT is the idea that a person’s behaviour or response in a situation is determined by their interpretation of it and that how someone feels is determined by their thoughts, beliefs and actions. CBT presumes that our thoughts, feelings and behaviour are linked.
In CBT the meaning taken from a situation determines how you feel about it, rather than the situation itself. Therefore two people can experience the same event, but not feel the same as a result of their differing interpretation of it. The interpretation is based on our own thoughts and beliefs and serves as a lens or filter, which influences subsequent behaviour.
One of the most well used examples to explain this, is that of seeing a friend on the street who walks by without acknowledging you. How you feel in this scenario is determined by what you think the reason is for this. If you think that you are to blame for upsetting them in some way, then you may feel sad. However if you saw their behaviour as ignorant and rude, you may feel annoyed or irritated. Alternatively, you may think they did not see you as they were rushing around as they have a reputation for being late, in this case you might feel more accepting of this and feel ok about it.
Whatever your interpretation then influences how you behave and feel. However our interpretations and our behaviour can be incorrect, unhelpful and make us feel stuck. Treatment using a CBT approach focusses on challenging thoughts and behaviours. CBT can help to identify and challenge negative thoughts and look at ways to change behaviours, which will then impact on mood.
Like many therapies, CBT requires work between appointments. You and your therapist will work together to set tasks for you to work on in order for you to make progress and to enable your recovery.