What’s the theory behind CBT?
CBT is based on the idea that the way we think about situations can affect the way we feel and behave. For example, if you interpret a situation negatively then you might experience negative emotions as a result, and those bad feelings might then lead you to behave in a certain way.
The CBT model and Depression
The CBT model explores depression as a cycle that is maintained by the development of a vicious circle with inherent maintaining factors. Exploring Depression in this way promotes the discovery of factors that are fueling and perpetuating the vicious circle of depression. It also provides an opportunity to unravel depression through changes that can be planned through goal setting and behavioural activation.
CBT looks at how our thoughts influence our mood, our physiology and our behaviour. The three levels of thinking are Negative Automatic Thoughts, Assumptions and Beliefs and Core Beliefs. The cognitive model proposes that distorted or dysfunctional thinking which influences a client`s mood and behaviour, is common to all psychological disturbances. Realistic evaluation and modification of thinking produces an improvement in mood and behaviour.
What Cognitive Behavioural Therapy can do?
CBT is a type of talking therapy that focuses on how your thoughts, beliefs and attitudes affect your feelings and behaviour and teaches you coping skills for dealing with different problems. It combines cognitive therapy (examining the things you think) and behaviour therapy (examining the things you do). The way we think about situations can affect the way we feel and behave. If you interpret a situation negatively then you might experience negative emotions as a result and those feelings might lead you to behave in a certain way. If your negative interpretations go unchallenged, then these patterns in your thoughts, feelings and behaviour can become part of a continuous cycle. Automatic thoughts are our conscious level of thought which can be difficult to change and awareness has to be brought to the client`s way of thinking. Automatic thoughts are repetitive, helpful or unhelpful. When negative thoughts are repetitive, these thoughts can become reinforced and as we think more, the thoughts become more validated, thereby falling into particular patterns for the client.
Negative thinking patterns can start from childhood onward. Over time you might come to believe these assumptions, resulting in automatic negative thinking as an adult. If your negative interpretations go unchallenged, then these patterns in your thoughts, feelings and behaviour can become part of a continuous cycle. If your negative interpretation of situations goes unchallenged, then these patterns in your thoughts, feelings and behaviour can become part of a continuous cycle:
How does CBT work?
In CBT you work with a therapist to identify and challenge any negative thinking patterns and behaviour which may be causing you difficulties. In turn this can change the way you feel about situations, and enable you to change behaviours moving forward.
The CBT therapist is bringing the client on a self-realisation journey, a self-identifying process. The therapist looks at the current problem list, how the problem developed, the developed history, the maintaining factors and the expectations and goals of therapy. You and your therapist might focus on what is going on in your life right now, but you might also look at your past, and think about how your past experiences impact the way you see the world. When a therapist is working with Depression, their emphasis is firstly on working with the behaviours and in time introducing cognitive interventions, looking at the client`s thinking patterns. The objective is to give the client the skills in order to get them functioning.
Both therapist and client work together to identify maladaptive beliefs and then evaluate them by providing objective evidence for and against these beliefs and also deciding on more appropriate ways of behaving in the future.