Cognitive Behavioural Therapy CBT - Psychotherapy & Counselling

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Cognitive Behavioural Therapy | CBT

Cognitive Therapy is also known as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and CBT. Over the years since it became established, variations of CBT have evolved and as a result, the term "CBT" or Cognitive Behavioural Therapy has become more an umbrella term for all the cognitive psychotherapies.

It is a widely used approach in the NHS and has an excellent evidence base that underpins its success. Success though, depends on the therapist's education level in CBT training, their skills and their experience as much as it does the needs of the person attending therapy.  

Theory

In brief, the theory behind CBT is that we can alter unwanted behaviours through changing the negative automatic thoughts (NATs) from the subconscious level that cause or drive negative emotions and feelings and lead to unwanted behaviours. The result is that different meaning carried by thoughts replaces the subconscious NATs, hence changing the resulting emotions, feelings and behaviour.


REBT | Rational Emotive Behavioural Therapy  

CBT has its roots in REBT. REBT refers to a specific therapeutic method as opposed to the umbrella term CBT. REBT was originally developed by Albert Ellis in the 1950s. According to Ellis, people have different assumptions about themselves and the world around them. The assumptions the individual has plays a major role in the way he acts and reacts in different situations (Ref: Difference between CBT and RBT)

Three Major Insights of REBT

According to Albert Ellis, the following are the three major insights of Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy:

  1. When individuals understand and accept that the main cause of emotional reactions are their beliefs about an event instead of the event itself. That is, we don’t just get upset from an event. We upset ourselves because of our irrational beliefs.
  2. When people acquire irrational beliefs, if they do not deal with them, they “hold” onto the beliefs and it’s what continues to upset them in the present. That is, these individuals still wholeheartedly believe in the “three musts.”
  3. Ellis made it clear that understanding these insights does not make us inherently “better.” That is, understanding these beliefs and having insights into how they effect our emotional responses is not enough to “cure” us. In reality, the best way to get better and stay better through REBT is to continually work on recognizing our irrational beliefs, disputing them, changing our irrational “musts,” and transforming negative emotions into more positive ones. Simply put, the only way to get better is through the hard work of changing our beliefs. It takes time and practice (Ref: REBT: What is it and how does it work)

Measurable Change


CBT and REBT are highly structured in their approach in therapy. As a person works through the process, part of that process is to rate the level of unhealthy emotions and feelings instigated by meaning-laden negative thoughts and then re-rate them after they have worked through the process of challenging them.

While receiving therapy, the person learns how to use the 'CBT tools' - it is part of the therapist's role to teach him or her how to use the tools - and by the end of therapy, the person is equipped to manage their behaviour.  

What kind of problems is CBT good for?

CBT/REBT has an excellent track record across a wide range of problems: anxiety - including OCD and PTSD; depression; even psychoses such as schizophrenia. It also works well for many people who have distressing tinnitus, an area of work in which I have specialised for many years. It can be used in pain management, anger management - the list is virtually endless.

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