Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) is an evidence-based therapy used for a host of difficulties and mental health disorders. This is the number one therapy treatment recommended by doctors and psychiatrists for anxiety and depression. CBT is also effective for:
- Stress management
- Sleep difficulties and disorders like chronic insomnia
- Anxiety such as generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, phobias and fears, social anxiety, separation anxiety, selective mutism, agoraphobia, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
- Body Focused Repetitive Behaviours (BFRBs) such as Trichotillomania, Dermatillomaia, and Onychtillomania
- Mood disorders such as depression, adjustment disorder, bipolar disorder, dysthymia, and substance-induced mood disorder
- Substance Use
- Eating Disorders
- Borderline Personality Disorder
- Health conditions such as chronic pain, migraines, irritable bowel syndrome, chronic fatigue syndrome, and fibromyalgia
- Couples and family issues
- Life Transitions
- Sports and performance
CBT is based on several core constructs. According to CBT, thoughts are connected to feelings and behaviours. If we can alter one part of the picture (ie. Change behaviour) we can then change how we feel and what we think. CBT therapists use strategies such as identifying distorted thinking patterns, emotional regulation techniques, and challenging behaviour (such as exposure therapy), in order to help clients improve their functioning. This theory is based on the premise that people do have the power to change, they just need the tools to do so.
CBT is typically broken down into 12 to 20 sessions. Therapy starts with the assessment phase where clients provide their story and list their goals for therapy. Following the assessment, counsellors focus on providing education on how CBT works and the connection between feelings, thoughts, and behaviours.
Next, counsellors get down to business by providing clients with specific tools that will help them reduce the impact their symptoms are having on their nervous system. Relaxation training helps clients reduce their anxiety and stress responses in their bodies. Following this, clinicians will focus on enhancing a client’s awareness of unhelpful thoughts that may be contributing to and maintaining their symptoms and unwanted behaviours.
The final component is the behavioural one. This might look like adding exercise and pleasurable activities to a clients week. It might also look like problem solving interpersonal, job, or family related situations. For instances of anxiety or fear-based symptoms, counsellors will guide their clients through a exposure plan where clients will gradually learn how to face their fears.
Most clients find success when engaging in CBT therapy. This is a modality that can be used for numerous situations and problems. It is time limited and involves hands on techniques that can help clients feel like are getting somewhere in their therapy. This practical treatment is ideal for those who want to see change in their lives.
To learn more about CBT Therapy, check out Anxiety Canada’s post: https://www.anxietycanada.com/articles/what-is-cognitive-behaviour-therapy/
Written by Kathryn Atkinson