Cognitive Behaviour Therapy - how it can help
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Cognitive Behaviour Therapy is a type of psychotherapy that looks at
By making links between what we do, think and feel, CBT can help us make changes in the way we think ("Cognitive") and the way we act ("Behaviour)". Making changes in what we think will affect what you do and feel, and changing what we do, affects the way we think and feel. Making these changes then can help us feel better.
Whilst it is is helpful to discuss the past and understand how our pasts have influenced our lives and how problems have arisen, CBT mostly focuses on looking for ways to improve your mental wellbeing now.
CBT says that it's not the event which causes our emotions, but how we interpret that event - what we think or what meaning we give that event or situation.
For instance, if someone you know passes you in the street without acknowledging you, you can interpret it several ways. You might think they don't want to know you because no-one likes you (which may lead you to feel depressed), your thought may be that you hope they don't stop to talk to you, because you won't know what to say and you'll make a fool of yourself (anxiety), you may think she's being deliberately snotty (leading to anger). A healthier response might be that she just didn't see you.
Another example may be someone who's depressed might wake up in the morning and think: "This is going to be another awful day", "I'm going to mess up again", or "What's the point of anything?", which will make them feel even more depressed (feelings), and may prompt them to pull the covers over their head and stay in bed (behaviours). It's very likely that this will increase their negative thoughts, which in turn will increase the feelings of depression, and make them even less likely to get out of bed. A vicious cycle is the result - continuing to think and act the same way will help maintain our depression (diagram below), or anxiety.
CBT can help you to break these vicious cycles of negative thinking, feelings and behaviour. When you see the parts of the vicious cycle clearly, you can change them - and therefore change the way you feel. It can also be helpful to look at the way our thoughts and feelings affect our bodies, and the physical sensations we can experience.
Different emotions are often associated with particular types of thoughts:
CBT aims to get you to a point where you can "do it yourself", and work out your own ways of tackling problems. CBT has often been described as guided self-help, and this website will help you access more information about CBT, and how it can help particular conditions. There is an introductory CBT self-help course where you can work through a basic therapy programme.
The following self-help steps will enable you, with or without the help of a therapist or mental health professional, to gain some useful insights and begin to address and work through your problems.