Cognitive Behavioral Therapy For Dummies

In the modern world, many men and women are looking forward to finding the answer to the question of how to get rid of unconscious destructive states that prevent them from living happily. This problem has long been global as to its nature. It’s relevant for people all over the world. The method of cognitive-behavioral therapy is aimed at solving this problem. Taking into account these facts, we can understand why cognitive behavior therapy techniques need a lot of attention.

What Principle Underlies Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy?

This method of psychotherapy appeals to consciousness and helps to free the modern person from stereotypes and preconceived notions that deprive him or her of freedom of choice. Moreover, it encourages people to act according to a pattern. In the case of necessity, the method allows adjusting the unconscious, “automatic” conclusions of the patient. It perceives them as truth, but in reality, they can significantly distort real events. Following the experts, these thoughts often become a source of painful emotions, inappropriate behavior, depression, anxiety disorders and other diseases.

This method is not new. It has a history of more than one hundred years old. Everything happened in 1913 when the American psychologist John Watson published his first articles on behaviorism. He encourages colleagues to focus solely on the study of human behavior, on the study of the relationship “external stimulus – external reaction (behavior).”

In the 1960s, the founder of rational, emotional psychotherapy, American psychologist Albert Ellis, stated the importance of the intermediate link in this chain, represented by the human thoughts and perceptions (cognitions). His colleague Aaron Beck began to study the field of knowledge. After evaluating the results of various methods of therapy, he concluded that human emotions, as well as the behavior, depend on the style of thinking. Aaron Beck and became the founder of cognitive-behavioral (or merely cognitive) psychotherapy.

What Are the Main Components of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?

Therapy is based on the joint work of the therapist and the patient. From the very beginning, the therapist does not teach the patient how to think correctly, but they try to understand together whether the usual type of thinking helps the person or, on the contrary, interferes. The key to success is the active participation of the patient, who will not only work at the sessions but also do some regular homework.

Cognitive behavioral therapy attempts to produce change by  helping clients unlearn and then relearn specific behaviors.

In the beginning, the therapy focuses only on the symptoms and complaints of the patient. However, over time, it begins gradually to affect the unconscious areas of thought – the underlying beliefs, as well as childhood events that influenced their formation. The principle of feedback is essential. Thus, the therapist continuously checks how the patient understands what is happening in therapy and discusses possible errors with this person.

Cognitive Behavior Therapy Techniques

Together with the psychotherapist, the patient finds out the backgrounds of the existing problem. In particular, it should be found under what circumstances the problem manifests itself, how “automatic thoughts” arise, and how they affect the person’s ideas, experiences, and behavior. At the first appointment, the therapist only listens attentively to the patient, and at the next one, they discuss in detail the patient’s thoughts and behavior in numerous everyday situations. The situations may be quite different, beginning from the time of waking up and up to the usual dishes for dinner or lunch. Under this condition, the main goal is to make a list of moments and situations of concern.

The therapist and patient then outline the work program or a so-called cognitive behavior therapy worksheet. It includes tasks that need to be performed in places or circumstances that cause anxiety. For example, it is possible to give somebody a lift or to take it, to have dinner in a public place or to talk face to face instead of texting through mobile. These exercises allow the patient to consolidate new skills and gradually change behavior. A person learns to be less rigid and categorical, to see different facets of a problem situation.

The therapist continually asks questions and explains points that will help the recipient understand the problem correctly. Each appointment is different from the previous one because each time the patient moves forward a bit and gets used to living following new, more flexible views, without the support of the therapist. Instead of “reading” other people’s thoughts, a person learns to distinguish his or her own, begins to behave differently, and as a result, the emotional state also changes. He or she calms down, feels more vivid and free. 

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Questions to Ask Clients

There are four types of questions in CBT.

1) Thought questions like “What do you think?” or “What were you thinking when this happened?”

2) Feelings questions such as “How did that make you feel?”

3) Scale or degree questions, for example “How is your anxiety today, on a scale of 1 to 10?”

4) Changing questions like “What can you do to change the situation?”

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Techniques for Anxiety

1. Cognitive restructuring means taking a look at negative thoughts. Using this techniques, a therapist asks about your typical thoughts in certain situations, so negative thinking patterns can be identified this way. Once an individual gets aware of them, he or she can reframe such thoughts in a more positive way. Maybe, a person is anxious because he or she tend to believe the worst will happen, or place too much importance on trivial details. With the help of cognitive reframing such thinking habits can be changed.

2. Guided discovery involves answering questions to challenge client’s beliefs and broaden thinking. A therapist can ask a patient to give evidence that support their assumptions. It allows to see things from a different perspective and choose a more helpful way of behavior.

3. Thoughts journaling. A client may be asked to write down negative and positive  thoughts that occur between therapy sessions. In addition, a psychotherapist may suggest to list new thoughts that have arisen since the last session. This technique helps to notice the progress made during psychotherapy.

4. Behavioral experiments is another technique used to treat anxiety disorders. Before doing something that typically makes one feel anxious, a therapist asks to predict what bad things will happen. Later, a clients needs to discuss whether the prediction came true. After some time, a patient seees that the predicted catastrophe isn’t likely to happen. It is better to start with doing lower-anxiety tasks first.

5. Relaxation and stress relief techniques involve deep breathing exercises and muscle  relaxation.  These practical skills can lower tension and help to deal with anxieties and phobias.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Children

CBT is commonly used to treat such disorders as ADHD, anxiety,  mood disorders and PTSD.  To deal with these conditions, a therapist creates a treatment plan according to the therapy goals. It’s aimed at teaching skills that can be practiced by a child immediately. CBT can be used alone or together with medications. Moreover, treatment plan can be altered to a certain extent to meet cultural differences.

Christian Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Why do we have to dedicate special attention for Christian CBT (CCBT)? The response is very simple: because of the spirituality. In general, science and religion, especially anything that concerns spirituality, are not connected. But Christian Cognitive Behavioral Therapy shows that it is possible to combine these two.

Many people are religious and that is why they cannot reject their religious values very easily since their entire life is based on them and on the belief. Christian Cognitive Behavioral Therapy attempts to combine religious values with the scientific process of the therapy. It means that clients no longer need to find coping strategies that they are not used to. It means they can use their former beliefs and values to find resources and to base the acquisition of new skills on them. That is why Christian Cognitive Behavioral Therapy works and its implementation shows that people show lower relapse rate which proves efficiency of such approach.

In other words, Christian Cognitive Behavioral Therapy allows to base the treatment for religious people on their existing beliefs, and that is why learning new skills is no longer a challenge for them since they already understand what they should focus on and why it is important to undergo therapy in this focus. Usually therapists of CBT focus on learning as the main method of therapy, but CCBT adds values and belief, which is usually not taken into focus by CBT. That is why we dedicate special attention to CCBT.

When People Need Cognitive Behavior Therapy Techniques

Cognitive therapy is effective in dealing with depression, panic attacks, social anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and eating disorders. This method is also used to treat alcoholism, drug addiction, and even schizophrenia (as a supportive method). At the same time, cognitive therapy is also suitable for working with low self-esteem, difficulties in relationships, perfectionism, and procrastination.

It can be used both in individual work and in working with families. However, it is not suitable for those patients who are not ready to take an active part in the work and expect that the therapist will give advice or interpret what is happening.

Following the pieces of information represented above the question like “Where can I get cognitive behavior therapy near me?” is considered to be instead demanded among the representatives of the modern society. This kind of assistance is used both by men and by women. Following the specialists’ points of view, people do not need anything special to prepare for this psychological therapy. As a rule, the general number of professional appointments depends on the willingness of the client to work on the complexity of the problem and his or her living conditions. In most cases, the meeting lasts 50-90 minutes. For better success, the specialists recommend having from 5 and up to 10 appointments and to do it 1-2 times a week. In some problematic cases, therapy may last longer than six months.

Anton Kurapov

Anton Kurapov

PhD, a professor assistant at Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv. Fascinated by the role of psychology in lives of people and simply astonished by the complexity of the brain and its functions.

Share this post:

Share on email
Share on facebook
Share on telegram
Share on twitter

Privacy Policy
Terms of Conditions