Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) is a psychotherapeutic approach, it is a talking therapy. The historical roots of CBT can be traced back to the early 1920s, but it wasn’t until 1950 – 1970s that behavioural therapies became widely utilized.
CBT is used to treat a range of issues from depression, anxiety, relationship problems, to drug and alcohol abuse in a collaborative and action-oriented manner. As such, it aims to empower the client by giving them an active role in the therapeutic process. Cognitive based therapies assume that maladaptive behaviours and distressed moods are a result of thinking patterns. CBT is a short-term form of psychotherapy treatment which adopts a more practical and hands-on approach to problem solving. The goal of CBT is to assist clients in bringing about desired changes to their lives through thinking patterns and behaviour.
CBT is often viewed as a classification of therapeutic interventions which may be used individually, within a group setting and also as a self-help application. While each therapist is different, there may be times when the application is more cognitively based and at other times more behaviourally based. Despite the application and use, there is empirical evidence which supports CBT as an effective treatment for a wide range of mental health problems. Often the treatment is manualised, with specific technique-driven treatments found to be effective for specific psychological disorders. Some general CBT techniques may include the following:
While CBT is a “talking therapy” there are many different techniques which may be employed by the client to assist in uncovering and examining their thoughts and to achieve changes in behaviour. For instance:
- A client may be asked to keep a diary to recount their thoughts, feelings and behaviours when specific situations arise.
- The may be asked to cognitively rehearse a situation with their therapist. Throughout the therapist will guide them through the process and help them to successfully face the difficult situation.
- Clients are asked to question their thoughts and the actual validity of the thoughts. The client may be asked to provide evidence for these thoughts.
- Role-play and model interactions, behaviours and responses.
- A client may be asked to imagine a feared situation and then therapist employs techniques to help the client relax and cope with the fear response.
- Other relaxation techniques include mindfulness and also distraction techniques are commonly included.
- Homework assignments.
Bannink, F. Practicing Positive CBT: From reducing Distress to Building Success. (2012). Chichester, UK: John Wiley & Sons, Ltd