Throughout he pages of this website you’ll find the treatment option of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy mentioned a great deal. Commonly referred to as simply CBT, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is regarded as one of the most effective forms of treatment for anxieties, fears and phobias. As such it’s worthy of a full explanation into exactly how it works. We promise to keep it as simple as possible!
Cognitive Therapy (as it was originally called) is not that new – it’s actually been around since the 1960s. The pioneer was a by Dr. Aaron T. Beck who was, at the time, a psychiatrist at the University of Pennsylvania.
CBT is a type of psychotherapy. In simple terms it’s a talking therapy which takes your specific issue, fear or specific phobia and focusses on your thoughts, beliefs and attitudes and how they affect your behaviour and emotions in respect of this issue.
It takes on the notion that your thoughts (cognition) creates emotions which, in turn, controls our reactions (behaviour).
CBT Cognitive Behavioural Therapy Made Simple
Take the case of any specific phobia as an example. A phobia is defined as “a persistent, excessive, unrealistic fear of an object, person, animal, activity or situation”. What happens when you think about or encounter the subject of this specific fear is that your mind creates the thought which stimulates the emotion. And this is where things go wrong. For some reason (a trigger), instead of responding with a normal emotion, the mind has become “corrupted” and automatically responds in an extreme manner. It’s this extreme reaction which in turn stimulates the behaviour of fight, flight or freeze.
So, it’s simple (cognitive behavioural therapy made simple!) reprogram the mind to thing about the specific fear or phobia to respond with a normal emotion and this will stop the irrational behaviour and your phobia is gone! And that’s exactly what CBT aims to do. It’s highly effective for most fears and phobias and is widely used in respects of most mental health issues.
CBT – The Format
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy involves regular interaction (usually face to face) with a trained psychotherapist. It’s usually a short term treatment with most issues being resolved within 12 – 16 weekly hour long sessions. Obviously this can vary and an exact program will be agreed as required.
There are several ways CBT can be delivered:
- One to one sessions on a face to face basis
- One to one remote sessions via electronic communication (video calls for example)
- Group sessions with others sharing similar issues and common goals
- Self help exercises to be worked on alone (online or workbooks)
What You Can Expect
CBT will start off with a full examination of the issues that you want to work on and you’ll reach agreement on what you expect to achieve and the program will be set accordingly.
Your therapist will then start to work through some exercises to establish and understand your current thoughts, emotions and subsequent behaviours. This may be through talking, using worksheets or even diagrams.
CBT is non-judgemental and collaborative – you work through things with your therapist together.
There may be work to do at home – often recording thoughts, reactions, behaviours and monitoring activities.
You’ll learn to identify and evaluate these automatic responses for yourself. Quite simply, in simply recognising them you’ll realise how irrational they actually are and will find yourself gradually beginning to think more rationally.
Gradually, through the regular talking, coaching and therapy, you’ll learn to change your feelings and resulting behaviours to the response you’re aiming for. In other words, to remove the irrational fear and to therefore be able to overcome the phobia completely.
How Effective Is CBT
CBT is widely regarded as one of the most effective treatments around. Much of this is because the therapy is specific to the individual so it has a much greater chance of being effective. It take your issue, your thought, your feelings and your behaviours rather than a general approach.
We hope that this cognitive behavioural therapy made simple article give you a little more insight. Of course, nothing works for everyone and it may not be for you but it’s certainly something you should consider if you truly want to beat your fears!
Hypnotherapy As An Alternative
We also mention hypnotherapy as a treatment which works in a different way but with the same end goal … to re-set the mind to react in a rational manner. You may want to also look into this form of treatment too.