Cognitive-behavioral psychotherapy (CBT), is a method of treatment of mental disorders, emotional difficulties and problematic behaviors. The cognitive- behavioral approach is one of the best-studied and most effective therapeutic approaches in the history of psychotherapy. It is characterized by a structured and oriented to specific goals and problems of the therapist and client / patient cooperation.
How is CBT different from other therapy approaches?
Compared with other types of psychotherapy, it is defined as a short-term method - usually takes several to several dozen meetings (once a week). Although originally created for the treatment of depression, it is also successfully used in the treatment of other mood disorders (including dysthymia, bipolar disorder), anxiety disorders (including panic disorder, social phobia, obsessive-compulsive disorder), personality, eating, addictions and also in psychotic disorders. It’s effectiveness in the therapy of various mental problems has been demonstrated in a large number of reliable clinical trials.
At the core of cognitive- behavioral therapy is the assumption that by changing the maladaptive way of thinking one can get a change in mood and behavior. The therapist uses CBT techniques to help the patient / client verify their own thinking patterns and beliefs, and replace "errors in thinking" with more realistic and effective thoughts, thereby reducing discomfort and limiting self-limiting behaviors. Cognitive-behavioral therapy allows to replace non-effective ways of coping, thinking, feeling and behaving more useful, more "conducive to the owner". CBT assumes that "own" ways to react with thoughts, feelings and behaviors have been learned in the course of the development of the individual, and therefore it is possible to unlearn them (in favorable circumstances) or to learn new ways of functioning. Put simply, everyone can learn to think about themselves, the world, other people in a way that is more conducive to its good everyday functioning.
The cognitive- behavioral therapist uses different CBT techniques to work with the client / patient, including:
- a method based on the therapist's skillful asking of questions, in a way that allows the client / patient to identify errors or falsifications in their own way. The method refers to the Greek philosopher Socrates, who became famous, among others, for the characteristic way of discussing with the interlocutors, whose views he did not share. By simply asking questions, he let them discover logical errors in their own reasoning,
recording of thoughts
– a method based on developing the skills of a more attentive, conscious and detached observation of one's own thoughts in order to independently identify errors and distortions in their content. Includes systematic recording of thoughts in a specific way and their structured analysis,
– help to empirically (experientially) investigate and verify existing beliefs. For example, if someone is deeply convinced that because of the shame "I can not initiate conversations with others", maybe together with the therapist set a task to ask 5 random people about the hour, weather, road, etc. Tasks also help to consolidate and develop new skills and ways coping,
– in the case of anxiety disorders, exposure means conscious, planned and purposeful exposure to an anxiety object (eg. spider, feeling of breathlessness, being in a closed room) to unlearn an anxiety reaction, tame anxiety and learn to respond in a more adaptive way. The exhibition can take the form of the so-called systematic desensitization - a gradual, controlled taming of an anxious object,
– it consists in gradual replacement of "old, non-functional" beliefs with more adequate and serving person. The driving force in reformulating the beliefs can be, among others Socratic dialogue, exposition or other behavioral experiment.
It can be said that as part of cognitive- behavioral therapy, the therapist and client / patient act as a research team and together look for suboptimal ways of thinking, feeling and behaving and ways of changing them to help client / patient function and feel better.