Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is talk therapy. It’s a way for you to manage your situation and problems by changing your thought process and behavior. Most commonly, it’s used as a treatment for anxiety and depression. However, it has also been useful for other health issues, both mental and physical.
How It Works
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is based on the idea that your actions, thoughts, physical sensations, and feelings are connected. As a result, negative feelings and thoughts can keep you trapped in a vicious cycle that exacerbates mental health disorders. Its purpose is to help you manage overwhelming problems by breaking them down into manageable parts.
Additionally, CBT can help you reframe situations in a more positive view. It’s all about changing negative patterns and improving how you feel about circumstances.
CBT doesn’t focus on your past. Rather, it was designed to deal with current issues. It helps you find practical ways to improve yourself every day.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Uses
According to the Mayo Clinic, this short-term therapy has been found to be effective for a variety of conditions, including borderline personality disorder, OCD, bipolar disorder, eating disorders, sexual disorders, panic disorders, phobias, PTSD, sleep issues, substance abuse issues, and schizophrenia (https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/cognitive-behavioral-therapy/about/pac-20384610).
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy has also been used to assist people with chronic health conditions such as fibromyalgia, IBS, and chronic fatigue syndrome. Talk therapy will not cure the symptoms of any condition, it’s about helping people better manage and cope with their symptoms.
The Pros & Cons of CBT
CBT isn’t for everyone, but like any therapy or approach, there are pros and cons which may help you decide whether it’s suitable for you.
The Pros of CBT
- It can be useful for treatment-resistant anxiety or depression.
- It’s a short-term therapy so it has quicker results than many other options.
- As it’s well-structured, there are different formats to follow. It can be done in groups, apps, self-help books, or one-on-one.
- It provides you with practical strategies you can use for everyday life, long after your initial treatment has ended.
The Cons of CBT
- A therapist will advise you, but CBT requires your commitment to follow it through.
- It can be time-consuming because you need to attend your sessions and complete follow-up work.
- It might not be a useful option for people with learning difficulties or complex mental health disorders.
- You will likely experience increased anxiety and emotional discomfort because you have to confront these in therapy.
- CBT is focused on your capacity to change yourself, but that won’t address wider external issues that may be contributing to your issues.
- If your illness is a result of childhood trauma, CBT will not help you get to the root of it.
What A Session Looks Like
Generally, sessions occur once weekly or fortnightly. Most people require at least five sessions, while some may require as many as 20. The sessions last between half an hour and one hour.
Once in session, you will work with a therapist to break your problems down into separate categories. You will separate your actions, thoughts, and physical feelings. Together, you will analyze these to determine whether they’re unhelpful, unrealistic, and what effect they’re having on you. From there, you will learn how to change these thoughts and behaviors.
You will practice this outside of sessions and discuss your progress in the next session. The purpose of this aim is to teach you these skills and ensure you know how to apply them in your everyday life.
Moving forward, you should be able to manage problems and prevent them from having such an impact on your life that it exacerbates or triggers anxiety or depression.