Importance of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

Dr. Purushothaman
October 3, 2018

CBT is a psychosocial intervention to improve mental health. It mainly focuses on the development of personal strategies to solve problems and to change those patterns which are seemed to be unsuccessful. It is a short term goal oriented therapy. It is used to treat a wide variety of mental problems. It will help to change people’s behavior and attitude. It is mainly done through focusing on thoughts, beliefs and attitudes. It will also relate these things to the way of behavior of the person. It will take a maximum of 10 months to complete this therapy. Usually it is conducted at a rate of 1 session per week. The duration of the session will last for 50 minutes. During the session the counselor will develop strategies for overcoming the client’s problem. It also introduces a set of principles which can be applied to almost all situations. It uses a combination of both psychotherapy and behavioral therapy. Psychotherapy focus on how thinking pattern begins in the childhood. Behavioral therapy focuses on the relationship between our behavior, problems and thought. The therapist will customize the therapy to the specific needs of each patient.

CBT was introduced by Aron Beck in 1960. During some psychoanalytical session, he noticed  some internal dialogues going on in the client's mind. These dialogues are like they are talking to themselves. From that he realized the link between thoughts and feelings. He invented the "Automatic thoughts" which mean emotion filled thoughts. He also found that people will not always aware of these thoughts. But with practice, we can identify it and can overcome it. It gives importance to our thoughts, so he had given the name cognitive therapy for this. Later it was merged with behavioral therapy, then it was renounced as cognitive behavioral therapy. CBT is based on the theory that events itself don't upset us, the meaning what we are giving to it will usually make us upset. If our thoughts are too negative it will block us from seeing the reality.

It is different from all other psychotherapy because it has some structure. It will not allow a person to speak freely about the problem. At the start of the session the person will tell about the specific problem he have and then the therapist sets the goal according to the presenting problem. The problem can be anything from insomnia to an unhappy life. Then these problems and their goals will become the basis of the session. It will allow the therapist for planning the content of the session. At the beginning of the session, both the therapist and the client will jointly decide what should be the focus of the session. The therapist will discuss about the result of the previous session and about the progress It offered to the client. This will be fundamental to build further treatment plans. The therapist will also give some homework to do. It is also important to carry out homework because it will aid in reaching the goal easily.

CBT sessions are always structured. This is because through CBT we are trying to change behavior or thinking of a person which is fundamental to an individual. So for doing this everything should come in a row. So that we will not miss anything. 

CBT therapy is effective for problems like

  • Anxiety
  • Anger management
  • Depression
  • Eating problems
  • General health problems
  • Mood swings
  • Obsessive compulsive disorders
  • Sleeping problems
  • Sexual problems

It is very effective to reduce symptoms of emotional disorders. It is same like drug therapy for many other mental disorders. After the therapy the client may relapse. So the client was told to follow up the therapy for up to two years. Actually, we cannot say it as a miracle to cure through this kind of therapy. It needs more expertise and planning from the side of the therapist. He has to take each step carefully to make the client feel better and should show some progress in each session as to avoid dropout from the therapy. The therapist needs more patience. The client should be persistent, open and brave. CBT is a vast developing branch. Sometimes there will be a clear cut idea about the problem the client face and the therapist will make the decision of the session according to the specific problem. The case has become complicated when the client problem remains hidden. The therapist cannot easily detect the problem quickly. So it will take some time to detect and specify the problem he may face.

Researchers are continuing to explore on the topics of CBT. This is to give more benefit for this kind of therapy. As I said before, it is a developing branch and not developed one. We can see a lot more of it. So we can thank Aron Beck for giving us this wonderful experience and for the moment he tried to concentrate on that “Automatic  Thoughts”.

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