What is CBT?
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a psychological approach based on scientific principles, and research has shown that it is effective for a wide range of problems.
CBT focuses on how your thoughts, beliefs and attitudes affect your feelings and behavior, and helps you master the skills that are needed to solve various problems.
It combines cognitive therapy (exploring what you think) and behavioral therapy (exploring what you do).
What is CBT theory?
CBT is based on the idea that the way we think about situations can affect how we feel and behave. For example, if you negatively interpret a situation, then you may encounter negative emotions, and these bad feelings may lead you to behave in a certain way.
How does negative thinking start?
Negative thinking patterns can start from childhood. For example, if you did not receive much attention or praise from your parents or teachers in school, you might think: “I am useless, I am not good enough.”
Over time, you can believe these assumptions, and with age, these negative thoughts will become automatic. This way of thinking can affect how you feel at work, at university, or even in life.
If your negative interpretation of situations is accepted without objection, then these patterns in your thoughts, feelings, and behavior can become part of a continuous cycle:
How does CBT work?
In CBT, you work with a therapist to identify and challenge any negative patterns of thinking and behavior that may be causing your difficulties. In turn, this can change the way you feel about situations, and will give you the opportunity to change your behavior in the future.
You and your therapist can focus on what is happening in your life right now, but you can also look at your past and think about how your past experience affects how you see the world.
What can CBT help with?
CBT is a relatively flexible therapy that can be adapted to meet your specific needs. Scientific evidence and clinical practice suggest that CBT can be effective for a number of mental health problems, such as:
- Anxiety and panic attacks
- Bipolar disorder
- Borderline personality disorder
- Eating disorders
- Obsessive compulsive disorder
- Post traumatic stress disorder
CBT can also be proposed and can help you find new ways to solve problems such as:
- Anger regulation problems
- Alcohol and drug abuse
- Sexual and relationship problems with a partner
- Insomnia (trouble sleeping)
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
- Chronic pain
You can also use CBT if you have a mental health problem along with a physical health problem. Tools and techniques that you learn in the course of CBT can often be applied to other problems in the future.
Does CBT work without drugs?
For some people, CBT works as well as medicine, especially for treating problems such as depression and anxiety disorders.
Depending on the symptoms you experience, your doctor may suggest a combination of CBT and medications, such as antidepressants. If you want to discuss whether CBT is right for you, you can talk with your doctor.
How to find a therapist who uses this approach?
On the websites of national associations of CBT there is usually information about practicing CBT psychotherapists. There is also such an association in Ukraine - the Ukrainian Association for Constructive-Behavioral Therapy (UACBT) - www.uacbt.org.ua