What is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy?
WHAT IS CBT?
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is a method of treatment for psychological disorders that takes a practical, task-based approach to solving problems.
It is designed to help change negative thoughts and behaviours, by providing more helpful and fulfilling solutions.
The focus of CBT is to address symptoms while they are present, and to learn skills and techniques that can be used in the ongoing improvement of mental health. All treatment programs at the Anxiety Disorder Clinic (ADC) involve Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT). Treatment programs are conducted over the internet or on a face-to-face basis.
HOW DOES CBT WORK?
As the name suggests, cognitive behavioural therapy works by teaching a person to new ways to manage their thoughts (cognition) and their behaviours that can unintentionally maintain anxiety.
It is a practical, real-world approach in which people gradually learn new skills in order to gain mastery over their anxiety and difficulties with mood. The aim is to assess the negative thoughts a person is having about themselves, and their view of the world, and to replace them with more positive and constructive thoughts and behaviours.
By addressing the thoughts and behaviours which contribute to the development and maintenance of problems, CBT seeks to offer a holistic approach to mental health care. CBT aims to teach someone to become their own therapist.
People learn how to change unhelpful ways of thinking and behaving in order to effectively face fears or situations that have been challenging. This helps people with practical goals such as reducing their distress or successfully facing situations that have previously been avoided.
WHAT HAPPENS IN A CBT SESSION?
CBT involves structured sessions that are designed to make the most of your time in therapy.
While different practitioners will approach CBT slightly differently, the structure will generally be fairly similar. Your clinician will usually start by discussing what you want to focus on during the session, and you will go over the lessons and tasks from the last session.
You will break down each problem that you want to discuss into parts. This will help you learn about your own thought patterns, emotions, and behaviours. You’re clinician will work with you to help you understand how your thoughts, feelings, and behaviours impact upon you and will teach you ways to address these where they are unhelpful.
CBT is a collaborative approach – it’s a lot like having a personal trainer for your mind. You and your clinician will agree on practice activities that you can apply between sessions. They will then review this with you in the following session to support your recovery and teach you new skills to practice.
This is a great way to practice using the coping skills that you learned in session.
PROFESSOR GAVIN ANDREWS DISCUSSES CBT
WHAT CAN CBT HELP WITH?
CBT has been successful in the treatment of many health issues, from anxiety and depression, to chronic pain and addiction. CBT has been found to be most suitable for people who have particular, identifiable issues that can be addressed with specific tasks and goals. The practical nature of CBT makes it helpful for people who are looking for a hands-on approach to their treatment.
People suffering from the following problems could benefit from treatment with CBT:
- Anxiety and panic attacks
- Child and adolescent problems
- Chronic pain
- Eating disorders
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Problem gambling
- Sleep problems
CBT can also be used to address other health problems. Speak to your General Practitioner (GP) about whether CBT may be useful for your helth issues.
HOW EFFECTIVE IS CBT IN ADDRESSING ANXIETY?
There is a large body of evidence which shows CBT is an effective treatment for the reduction of symptoms associated with a wide range of health issues, especially the common anxiety and depressive disorders.
Importantly, the benefits of CBT don’t have to stop at the end of treatment. The lessons learned from CBT can make substantial and ongoing changes to a person’s life.
The practical coping skills are also transferable, so skills and techniques learned through CBT can positively affect other facets of life, like work, study, and personal relationships.
The Anxiety Disorders Clinic (ADC) specialises in the assessment and treatment of adults with anxiety disorders. The Clinic is part of the Clinical Research Unit for Anxiety (CRUfAD) at St Vincent’s Hospital, Sydney.
Level 4, The O’Brien Centre St. Vincent’s Hospital 394-404 Victoria Street Darlinghurst NSW 2010 (Map) (02) 8382 1400
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