What is CBT?
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is an empirically validated treatment – which is to say that there are numerous scientific studies that demonstrate its benefit – that is designed to change the way you think about, and behave in, situations in order to improve the way you feel.
CBT has been demonstrated to be effective in treating many conditions, such as depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and psychosis. CBT strategies can also be very helpful in managing chronic medical conditions, grief, perfectionism, stress and relationship issues.
The idea behind CBT is that our thoughts, beliefs, emotions and behaviours interact, such that changing one can change the others. Since no one can tell you how to feel, the best places to make those changes is at the level of your own thoughts, beliefs and behaviours.
How does CBT work?
The purpose of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is to help you change your thoughts and behaviours to improve the way you feel. Ultimately, the goal is to help you resolve your personal difficulties, and learn to manage these issues more effectively.
The role of the therapist is to listen in a non-judgemental and empathetic way, to understand your difficulties and employ psychological techniques to help work through these difficulties.
CBT is considered to be a shorter-term therapy, usually in the range of 8 to 20 sessions. It is an active and collaborative therapy between the client and the psychologist. The idea is that the client and the psychologist work together to set the treatment plan and goals, the session agenda, and work together on mastering and applying the CBT skills.
What are the benefits of CBT?
CBT helps clients explore and understand their thoughts, behaviours and emotions.
Sessions are typically focused on the present concerns, and involve developing skills and strategies to change your thoughts and behaviours. The goal is to help you develop the skills you need to become your own therapist, so that you can effectively deal with the situation on your own.
CBT typically has a lower relapse rate, as compared to medication, as you are able to learn lifelong strategies to help you continue to thrive.
Since CBT is a unique experience, the outcome will vary from person to person, but overall effectiveness is quite high for most conditions.
Are there risks to CBT?
Since CBT can involve discussing unpleasant aspects of your life you may experience uncomfortable feelings including sadness, anxiety, anger, frustration and guilt.
How long does CBT last?
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy typically lasts between 8 and 20 sessions. Sessions are 50 minutes in length, and are usually scheduled once per week.
Should more intensive treatment be required, the session length and frequency may be adjusted.
Treatment progress is regularly reviewed to ensure that your goals are being met. As treatment progresses, these sessions may be spaced out over time to allow you more time to practice the skills you have learned in session.
You always have complete control over the therapy process and have the right to discontinue treatment at any time.