How Cognitive Behaviour Therapy Helps
Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) is one of the highly recommended talking therapies for anxiety disorders. It is designed to treat negative patterns and distortions in the way sufferers look at the world and themselves. As its name implies, CBT tackles two components: Cognitive and Behaviour. In Cognitive Therapy, a licensed professional will examine how negative thoughts (cognitions) may trigger anxiety. As for Behaviour Therapy, they will try to understand how the patient behaves or reacts in situations which may trigger their disorder.
Who CBT is For
CBT is one of the effective treatments for individuals suffering from depression or anxiety disorders. It is also recommended to those diagnosed with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), phobias, panic disorder, eating disorders, and sleep problems. On the other hand, individuals suffering from alcoholism, chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) may need this treatment to cope with their symptoms.
How CBT Works
Cognitive Behaviour Therapy enables patients to overcome overwhelming situations by breaking them into five parts: A Situation (the problem at hand), Thoughts, Emotions, Physical Feelings, and Actions. Each of these is connected and can influence one another and affect how a person feels emotionally and physically. To give you an example of these, here’s a Situation: after a bad day, you decide to go shopping. However, someone you know walks by, apparently ignoring you.
- Thoughts: You may start thinking that you were ignored on purpose because the person does not like you. However, CBT will teach you to consider positive thoughts such as wondering if the other person has a lot on their plate.
- Emotions: As a result of the other person’s behaviour, you may feel sad or rejected. With CBT and based on your positive thoughts, you will feel concerned for the other person.
- Physical Feelings: Your anxiety may lead to stomach cramps and low energy. Since CBT allows you to develop helpful thoughts, you will not experience any physical side effects.
- Action: Angered by your negative thoughts, you may decide to go home or avoid the other person. However, if you are concerned, you may contact them just to make sure that they are fine.
As you can see, negative thoughts are bound to make you brood and feel worse about yourself. You will also be unable to correct any misunderstandings, alienating yourself from others and cutting off ties with others.
What to Expect During Sessions
CBT sessions are offered through individual sessions or groups. If you are more comfortable with individual therapy, expect to meet a CBT therapist between five and twenty weekly or fortnightly sessions. Each of these will last 30-60 minutes, with you and your therapist agreeing on what you should discuss on that day. During the first 2-4 sessions though, the therapist will determine whether this treatment truly is beneficial for you. They will also check how comfortable you are with it before deciding what to focus on in the short, medium and long run.
During the therapy, you may need to keep a journal and document your thoughts, behaviours and feelings. These will be discussed during sessions to determine whether they were unhelpful and how they affect you and others. Your therapist will then work on altering unhelpful thoughts and behaviours until you can have realistic or positive thoughts on your own and be more helpful to yourself and others.
Cognitive Behaviour Therapy can be as effective as antidepressants for individuals suffering from moderate to severe depression. However, it is not a quick solution, especially since a good therapist will always pace your sessions. Therefore, be prepared beforehand and entrust yourself to Dr Ahmed, a highly respected psychiatrist in Birmingham and an expert on CBT.