Cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, is not new by any means.This popular psychological treatment which has proven to be effective in treating common disorders has been around for quite some time.
In fact,the first roots of this type of intervention can be traced back to the 1930s and 1940s when soldiers, dealing with trauma after returning from the battlefield, were provided with behavioral treatment.
Subsequently, the evolution of CBT came about in three stages. First, with the full development of behavior therapy between 1950 and 1970, secondly after cognitive behavioral therapy was developed in the 1960s and finally with the merging of the two therapies in the 1980s.
Newer findings in 2020 have shown that both virtual and internet based CBT hold a lot of promise for effective treatment and today cognitive behavioral therapy is considered to be the gold standard of psychotherapy.
CBT infers that our feelings, thoughts and behaviors are interconnected and can influence each other. By using this therapeutic technique, one can identifythese unhelpful or negative thoughts and develop effective strategies to tackle the roots of these maladaptive behavioral habits.
The primary goal of CBT is to identify such behavior patterns that are considered counterproductive in society and which prevent an individual from adjusting properly in normal situations.
Different types of CBT
The type of CBT technique used depends on the issue which needs to be addressed. Broadly speaking,the different types of CBT can include:
Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy(MBCT)
MBCT is a form of CBT that combines cognitive therapy techniques with mindfulness meditation practices.
It is usually used to prevent any relapse in a person with a history of depression or any other chronic mood disorder.
Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT)
Dialectical behavior therapy is based on CBT but is adapted especially for people who suffer from very powerful emotions.
This type of psychotherapy works by making individuals accept who they are and encourage them to alter their behaviors at the same time.
While a full DBT course can take up to a year to complete,it is known to be effective for a plethora of mental health issues, such as eating disorders, borderline personality disorder or self-harm to name a few.
Cognitive processing therapy(CPT)
CPT has been proven to effectively treat patients with post-traumatic stress disorder(PTSD) symptoms.This therapy involves psychoeducation about PTSD to help individuals to better understand the nature of how symptoms develop,and understand their trauma in order to reduce the ongoing effects.
Acceptance and commitment therapy(ACT)
ACT is one of the newer approaches to CBT and one that lays emphasis on the importance of accepting difficult thoughts and feelings rather than trying to eliminate them.
Acceptance and commitment therapy is mostly used to combat depression, anxiety and chronic pain.
Rational emotive behavior therapy(REBT)
REBT is also another form of CBT,that aims to help those individuals with irrational beliefs by replacing them with thinking patterns that are much more rational.
REBT treatment has shown positive results to treat those suffering from depression, disruptive behavior or overwhelming feelings of anger.
Treatment is designed to be brief, but as such there is no set course.It can last for a few sessions,a few weeks or at times even for months.
Is CBT effective?
Cognitive behavioral therapy is an extremely effective mode of mental health treatment and one that has undergone extensive research 1https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3584580/ and proven to successfully treat a wide range of psychological disorders.
The main focus of CBT is to change the negative thought patterns and behaviors and provide a versatile therapy platform that can be tailored to the needs of any individual.
From common issues like anxiety and depression to more challenging and complex disorders such as OCD and PTSD, CBT has shown to be an invaluable asset in the field of mental health.
What can CBT help with?
You don't need to have a specific health condition to gain from CBT,but it can help with a wide range of issues such as:
- eating disorders
- post traumatic stress disorder(PTSD)
- panic disorders, phobia and anxiety
- obsessive compulsive disorder(OCD)
- substance misuse
- bipolar disorder
- divorce issues
- broken relationships
- chronic pain
- grief or loss
More importantly,CBT can be more useful for people who wish to take an active role in their healing process. Your therapist may be able to breakdown your thoughts and feelings but it is for the individual to do the homework to apply the coping strategies learnt in day to day life.
Limitations of CBT
Like any other form of treatment CBT also has its limitations and is not a miracle treatment for everyone:
- CBT is not effective for every psychiatric condition. CBT is often prescribed for insomnia,but insomnia itself may be as a result of a variety of comorbidities that do not respond well to CBT
- A typical CBT session can last up to eight weeks which is more time consuming than alternative modes of treatment.
- CBT relies on patient's to put in an effort and open up to the therapist. This requires time and dedication which may not be everyone's cup of tea
- CBT therapists vary in quality which can seriously impact the treatment. In addition there are multiple accessibility concerns.
- People who are dealing with serious mental health issues like psychosis or suicidal thoughts may need in-person intervention for comprehensive treatment.
CBT and virtual therapy:how it works?
For those who cannot leave their homes counseling via telehealth has come as a big boon.Having said that ,the two therapy conjunction of person-centered CBT therapy and online CBT therapy has been shown to work well with each other.
While both approaches strive to improve the welfare of their clients,a large number of online platforms offering CBT have cropped up, offering trained providers and both paid and free apps to help practice CBT coping skills.
While an app in no way can replace a licensed therapist trained in CBT,it can be a beneficial self-help tool to complement what you are already working on in CBT therapy.
What to expect in CBT therapy?
CBT treatment can take place face-to-face,in a group session or through an online CBT platform where you will be addressing some of your specific concerns with a therapist.
Before you start a treatment session,you are likely to be asked to complete some assignments for homework in order to strengthen the new pattern of behavior and thinking.
Basic concepts of CBT will be explained, including the critical importance of completing the homework given,apart from a general description of the techniques to be adopted.
A typical online CBT session will be structured in three parts of twenty minutes each and the initial step will be to assess the behavior problems,followed by a plan for the next topic and ending by preparing for high-risk situations.
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