Frequent Questions about CBT
What is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy?
Cognitive behavioural therapy is one of the few forms of psychotherapy that has been scientifically tested and found to be effective in hundreds of clinical trials for many different disorders. This evidence has made CBT the recommended treatment of choice by the Government (see www.nice.org.uk).
In contrast to other forms of psychotherapy, cognitive behavioural therapy is usually more focused on the present, more time-limited, and more problem-solving oriented. In addition, patients learn specific skills that they can use for the rest of their lives. These skills involve identifying distorted thinking, modifying beliefs, relating to others in different ways, and changing behaviours.
What is the theory behind Cognitive Behavioural Therapy?
Cognitive behavioural therapy is based on the cognitive model: the way we perceive situations influences how we feel emotionally.
For example, one person reading this website might think, "Wow! This sounds good, it's just what I've always been looking for!" and feels happy. Another person reading this information might think, "Well, this sounds good but I don't think I can do it." This person feels sad and discouraged.
So it is not a situation that directly affects how people feel emotionally, but rather, their thoughts in that situation. When people are in distress, they often do not think clearly and their thoughts are distorted in some way.
Cognitive behavioural therapy helps people identify their distressing thoughts and evaluate how realistic the thoughts are. Then they learn to change their distorted thinking. When they think more realistically, they feel better. The emphasis is also consistently on solving problems and initiating behavioural change.
What can I do to get ready for CBT treatment?
An important first step is to set goals. Ask yourself, "How would I like to be different by the end of therapy?" Think specifically about changes you'd like to make at work, at home, in your relationships with family, friends, co-workers, and others. Think about what symptoms have been bothering you and which you'd like to decrease or eliminate.
Think about other areas that would improve your life: pursuing spiritual/intellectual/cultural interests, increasing exercise, decreasing bad habits, learning new interpersonal skills, improving management skills at work or at home.
Your therapist will help you develop a goal list and decide which goals you might be able to work toward on your own and which ones you might want to work on in therapy.
How do cognitive behavioural therapists help patients become their own therapists?
At each therapy session, cognitive behavioural therapists help patients specify the problems they have encountered during the week or that they expect to encounter in the current week. They then collect data to identify the ideas and behaviours that have interfered with patients' ability to solve problems themselves.
Cognitive behavioural therapists get patients actively engaged in deciding where to start working. Together, they develop an “action plan” or homework for patients (to do during the week) to implement solutions to problems or to make changes in their thinking and actions. This process gets patients actively involved in their own treatment; they begin to recognize that the way to get better is to make small changes in how they think and what they do every day. When treatment ends, patients are able to use the skills and tools they have learned in therapy in their day-to-day lives.
How can I make the best use of therapy?
One way is to ask your therapist how you might be able to supplement your psychotherapy with cognitive therapy readings, workbooks, client pamphlets, etc. A second way is to prepare for each session, thinking about what you learned in the previous session and jotting down what you want to discuss in the next session.
A third way to maximize therapy is to make sure that you try to bring the therapy session into your everyday life. Therapists should make sure you take home notes or a recording of anything you want to remember, both changes in your thinking and an action plan to follow during the week.
How can you be sure a CBT-Therapist is fully qualified to practice?
When looking for a psychologist or counsellor who can provide cognitive behavioural therapy in the Swansea are, you should visit the website of the BABCP (British Association for Behavioural & Cognitive Psychotherapies), which is www.babcp.com.
On this website you will see a search option ('Find a CBT Therapist') where you can find all qualified therapists in your area, just type in the first three letters of your postcode.