What is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)

This is an introduction into Cognitive Behavioural Therapy or (CBT) what is it and what sort of issues can it help deal with.

What is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

CBT is often used to treat people who suffer with different types of anxiety, including obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), social anxiety and also depression.

It doesn’t deal with your past, it focuses more on your current life and issues, to help you deal with current situations better and change your thinking to a more positive outlook. The goal is to break negative thinking cycles and to be more pro active.

How does it work

Issues are broken down into five different types

  • Situations
  • Emotions
  • Thoughts
  • Actions
  • Physical feelings

Negative thinking cycles

The theory is that these five types are connected, a problem with one type can affect the others. So being in a bad situation will have a negative effect on your thoughts and emotions.

For example if someone made a mistake which resulted in the end of a relationship, the situation may make that person develop self doubt and manifest general negative thoughts and emotions. They may feel useless or hopeless and it could affect their actions, leaving the house less often or staying in bed too long.

Feeling low or depressed often affects us physically, for example depression can reduce a person’s energy levels resulting in always feeling tired (negative cycle).

What CBT will aim to do is stop the negative cycle. So instead of the negative thinking, it would aim to get the person to focus on the positives that comes from making a mistake, such as learning a lesson which will make their life better in the long term and to generally feel more positive about the future.

If the negative thoughts can be stopped, it will prevent the negativity influencing their emotions, actions and physical feelings.

Why do some people think negatively

This could be due to many different factors, such as influence from the people around you. Emotions and ways of thinking are often contagious so being around negative thinking people could be a cause.

Past experiences, not getting enough attention from our parents could cause us to believe we are not worthy, resulting in a low self image and a general negative way of thinking about ourselves.

Not meeting up to popular societal beliefs or popular culture. Society sets certain popular standards that influence many people, for example somebody not being married by the age of 30 could be looked at as a failure. If somebody was to accept this view they may start to look at themselves negatively. Society or groups (social psychology) influence many people in how they think and what they value.

Psychologists believe that around 80% on average of what people think is negative. This could be down to a defense mechanism that many people share, to be cynical and none trusting is often instinctual, it’s the safest way of thinking.

Exposure treatment

This is another type of therapy called exposure therapy which is often used to treat people who suffer with OCD and phobias.

This involves somebody being subjected to a situation which causes them anxiety for a period of time until the anxiety reduces. This treatment will continue until the anxiety has reduced to a more manageable level.

How effective is CBT?

CBT is considered to be one of the most effective forms of treatment for many different types of anxiety and depression, it’s believed to be just as effective as some antidepressant medications.

You can also look into affirmations (positive self talk) which can also be used to break negative thinking cycles.


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