CBT begins with a good working relationship between you and your therapist. It is important that you feel that the therapist has a good understanding of your problems and that you can discuss how you think and feel in a safe environment.
The basic concept behind the therapy is that our thoughts about a situation affect how we feel and how we behave in the situation.
In CBT, you will learn to understand the relationship among what you are thinking, feeling, and doing. You will learn how to overcome problems by identifying and challenging unhelpful ways of thinking and behaving.
In CBT sessions, you will spend time talking about your feelings. The presence of strong feelings usually means that the discussion is about something important.
However, in CBT we do not challenge emotions. Feelings just “are.” Feelings are “true.” In contrast, thoughts, assumptions, beliefs, and behaviours can be challenged and changed.
CBT focuses on the here and now, rather than on the past. We may spend some time talking about your past in order to better understand your current problems. However, the primary emphasis will be on helping you to overcome your current difficulties.
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is an evidence-based psychological treatment that was developed through decades of scientific research.
There is a growing body of studies that show that CBT is an effective treatment for a variety of conditions including depression and anxiety. For most mood and anxiety problems, CBT is at least as effective as medication.
Over the long term, CBT is often more effective than medication in maintaining wellness and reducing the risk for relapse. Many people may benefit from a combination of medication and CBT. Often, medication is used to provide some relief from symptoms and CBT is used to provide long-term strategies for getting well and staying well.
A typical cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) session begins with setting an agenda of what will be discussed. You and the therapist will decide on the topics to put on the agenda. During the sessions, you will spend time identifying and confronting the thoughts, assumptions, and beliefs that contribute to your problems.
You will be encouraged to experiment with new ideas and viewpoints. In addition, you will spend time challenging your old behaviours and trying out new ones.
CBT is much more than “talk therapy.” The therapist will act as a “coach,” helping you to learn techniques that will enable you to approach your problems in new ways.
In addition to talking to your therapist about your problems, you will be asked to do homework each week. You and your therapist will develop the “homework” together. The amount of homework assigned will vary, but it typically consists of 30 minutes to 1 hour each day of some combination of monitoring your symptoms and thoughts, challenging your beliefs, and experimenting with new behaviours.
There is scientific evidence that the completion of homework will help with learning new skills and improves the effectiveness of CBT.