An Introduction To Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Even if you are not in the mental health field, you have probably heard about the effectiveness and benefits of using Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) techniques.

Most of the best psychotherapists in London use CBT with their clients, or at least some of the elements and techniques of CBT. This is a well-researched, effective and transparent way for psychotherapists to treat patients with a wide range of different diagnosis including:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Anger
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
  • PTSD
  • ADD
  • Eating disorders
  • Addictions
  • Social phobias and anxieties

The Basics

Cognitive behavioural therapy was first introduced by Dr Aaron Beck in the mid part of the 1970s. Prior to CBT, psychotherapists held the general belief that the reaction to a particular event, particularly a negative event, was a direct result of the event. In other words, the situation was the cause of the emotion.

Beck’s CBT theory introduced the idea that is how you think about the situation that results in your behaviour and your emotions about the event. It is not necessary to change the event to change how you react to it; rather you have to change your thoughts about the event to bring about different emotional reactions.

To illustrate this let’s consider a typical work situation. An employee has completed a project for their boss and has not heard anything from their supervisor regarding the quality of the work.

Employee A takes this lack of contact in a positive way and thinks or perceives that if there is no feedback on the work it is done to satisfactory standards. She feels very good about the job and is looking forward to the next assignment, and is very willing to meet with the supervisor to discuss a new task.

Employee B takes the lack of contact as negative and thinks that the supervisor is unhappy and is ignoring her because of the substandard performed. She thinks that she has not met standards, and, through this negative cognition, she is unwilling to make contact with the supervisor and would like to be passed over for the next task.

With CBT, psychotherapists in London would work with Employee B to help her to see how her negative thoughts about the boss and his or her actions were impacting her ability to do her job.

Talk Therapy

With CBT, psychotherapists in London work with their clients to identify activating events, beliefs around those events, and the consequences of those thoughts on behaviours. This is sometimes called the ABC sequence.

By understanding that the thoughts or beliefs, and not the actual event are the issue, it is possible to change those thoughts and thereby change the consequences.

Typically CBT is shorter in durations with patients meeting with psychotherapists in London weekly or bi-weekly for few weeks to months. Unlike other forms of therapy the client and the therapist tend to focus in on activating events that are more recent, but there can also be discussions that include events from the past, particularly when the shape the beliefs of today.

Client Involvement

CBT is not a passive type of therapeutic approach. The client needs to be willing to examine those beliefs they have that are creating negative or problematic emotional responses and behaviours. This is not something that is just done in the therapist’s office; rather it is meant to be an effective approach to changing behaviours and reactions throughout life.

With successful practice and mastery of your unique and individualised CBT sessions, it is possible for clients with depression, anxiety, phobias, addictions and eating disorders to be able to change their thoughts to bring about positive reactions and behaviours. It is also possible for clients to be able to lower their medications or even eliminate medications for some conditions when they fully commit to using the skills they learn in CBT.