top of page

5 things you need to know about Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapy

Updated: Dec 27, 2021

If you stumbled upon this article, because you are researching different psychotherapy directions or someone recommended you to start going to a cognitive-behavioural psychotherapy (CBT), you’re in the right place. This is a brief and short presentation of CBT and what you need to know about it.

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a form of psychological treatment that has been demonstrated to be effective for a range of problems including depression, anxiety disorders, alcohol and drug use problems, marital problems, eating disorders, and severe mental illness. Numerous research studies suggest that CBT leads to significant improvement in functioning and quality of life. In many studies, CBT has been demonstrated to be as effective as, or more effective then, other forms of psychological therapy or psychiatric medications. (APA)

1. Conditions that CBT treats

CBT is a useful tool to address emotional challenges. For example, it may help you:

  • Manage symptoms of mental illness

  • Prevent a relapse of mental illness symptoms

  • Treat a mental illness when medications aren't a good option

  • Learn techniques for coping with stressful life situations

  • Identify ways to manage emotions

  • Resolve relationship conflicts and learn better ways to communicate

  • Cope with grief or loss

  • Overcome emotional trauma related to abuse or violence

  • Cope with a medical illness

  • Manage chronic physical symptoms

Mental health disorders that may improve with CBT include:

  • Depression

  • Anxiety disorders

  • Phobias

  • PTSD

  • Sleep disorders

  • Eating disorders

  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)

  • Substance use disorders

  • Bipolar disorders

  • Schizophrenia

  • Sexual disorders

2. CBT focuses on present

Psychoanalytic and psychodynamic therapy, as well as many other approaches, center around exploring the past to gather understanding and insight. CBT is distinct because it focuses on the present. What are you thinking right now? What were you thinking when you began to feel anxious? Are there any harmful patterns that emerge? The goal is to understand what happens in your mind and body in the present to change how you respond.

3. CBT is short-term, goal-oriented, and scientifically validated.

CBT was founded by psychiatrist Aaron Beck in the 1960s, following his disillusionment with Freudian psychoanalysis and a desire to explore more empirical forms of therapy. CBT also has roots in Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy (REBT), the brainchild of psychologist Albert Ellis. The two were pioneers in changing the therapeutic landscape to offer patients a new treatment option—one that is short-term, goal-oriented, and scientifically validated.

4. CBT works around thoughts, emotions and beliefs and you have to work too

Understanding that there is a connection between your thoughts, emotions and behaviour is one of the key principles of CBT. During therapy you work around those aspects and get to know different methods (relaxation techniques, changing negative thinking patterns, …) that help you restructure your basic beliefes and behaviours. But you will have to work for it! There is no magic stick and words that your therapist will use, that’ll help you change, you will have to be the one that does that. So your therapist might give you homeworks and ask you to write a journal.

5. CBT is generally considered short-term therapy

Ranging from about five to 20 sessions. You and your therapist can discuss how many sessions may be right for you. Factors to consider include:

  • Type of disorder or situation

  • Severity of your symptoms

  • How long you've had your symptoms or have been dealing with your situation

  • How quickly you make progress

  • How much stress you're experiencing

  • How much support you receive from family members and other people

36 views0 comments
bottom of page