Cognitive Behavioural Therapy Sydney
Cognitive behavioural therapy
Cognitive behavioural therapy – also known as CBT – is a psychotherapeutic approach to providing counselling and therapy services that is focused on identifying problem behaviours and thoughts that result in uncomfortable and disruptive symptoms. Very often CBT therapy is favoured by insurance companies and treatment reimbursement programs (like Medicare) because it is considered short term and has been scientifically proven effective for many specific types of mental health issues, such as mild to moderate depression and others.
How was CBT Developed?
Cognitive behavioural therapy was developed in the late 20th century in response to psychodynamic and person centered therapies that required on long periods of treatment and focused a great deal of attention and efforts on personal history and intensive evaluation of how a person became the person they are and why they developed problems.
In the early years of CBT, Albert Ellis primarily focused his attention on the thoughts and rational and logic behind symptoms that plagued individuals with mental health problems. Later, in the 1980s and 1990s, behavioural therapy was merged with cognitive therapy to create CBT. Behavioural therapy focused on identifying problem behaviours and offering alternative activities which relieved symptoms. The blending of cognitive therapy and behavioural therapy brought together the idea that thoughts influence behaviour and as a result, if you change the thoughts about a problem, then you can change the behaviours associated with the problem.
What Types of Problems Does CBT Work Well With?
Cognitive behavioural therapy has been shown to be extremely effective with a wide variety of different types of problems and issues. Some clients and therapists may decide to combine CBT with mood stabilising antidepressant or anti-anxiety medication, which is the most effective combination of treatments. Taking Medication is not a requirement of participating in CBT.
One of the most effective and common uses of CBT is for anxiety related disorders. This includes panic attacks, generalised anxiety and specific phobias or social phobias. The basic treatment is to engage the thinking skills of the client, so that you begin thinking about what is making you anxious and why. Relaxation methods are strongly recommended and in anxiety provoking situations, using relaxing thoughts to counter anxiety is part of the CBT treatment. With enough experiences with transforming anxiety into relaxation, the symptoms of the anxiety disorder resolve.
Another common disorder that cognitive behavioural treatment is used with is mood disorders like depression. Since CBT is considered a short term treatment, many counsellors consider clients with mild to moderate depression that is situational to be excellent candidates for this method of treatment. An example of how CBT treatment would work for depression would include the following steps:
1. Keep track of depression symptoms during the week (sleepiness, down mood, poor concentration, etc)
2. Note what thoughts were being experienced when depression symptoms were strongest (I can’t believe I lost my job, this will never get better, I’m a loser, etc)
3. Assign counter-thoughts for negative thoughts (I’m a loser/I’m a winner, I can’t believe I lost my job/I will find another wonderful job).
4. Assign activities to encourage healthier mood (sit outside for 1 hour each day when weather allows to encourage serotonin production, talk a walk every day, go to social activity once a week).
5. Assign activities to encourage positive reinforcement (apply for 5 jobs every week, research alternative career paths, etc).
6. Assign positive self statements or more realistic self statements (I am a worthwhile person, I do have transferable skills, I am an outgoing personable individual, My friends like me and enjoy my company etc).
7. Review negative feelings/thoughts versus positive feelings/thoughts.
Generally, speaking cognitive behaviour therapy seeks to address negative thoughts and feelings that have become a pattern and transform them into positive and more productive thoughts and feelings about the situation.
What is Behavioural Therapy?
Behavioural therapy is a form of CBT that is specifically focused on changing behaviours. This type of therapy works well with both children and adults. With adult treatment, specific behaviours and activities are addressed.
A good example of behavioural treatment is smoking cessation or undertaking relaxation training for anxiety. With individuals who want to stop smoking, counsellors are able to address the behaviours that are associated with smoking. For example, the counsellor may talk about the social aspect of smoking – that it is something that is engaged in while out with friends or during smoking breaks at work. The counsellor then may talk about alternative activities that can replace the smoking behaviours – walking, exercising, craft activities. These suggestions are combined with positive reinforcement statements that challenge and transform the beliefs and thoughts that are associated with smoking. CBT can also be combined with antidepressants that specifically target smoking behaviours (Wellbutrin, Chantix, Xyban).
Who Benefits Most from Cognitive Behavioural Therapy?
Cognitive behavioural therapy is intended to be a short term approach to therapy and counselling. It is most often recommended as the initial approach to almost every mental health issue, particularly if it is being paid by private insurance or Medicare. As mentioned above, mild to moderate depression, anxiety and other mood disorders often benefit from CBT. Also, intermittent treatment of bipolar disorder appears to benefit from CBT therapy.
Deeper long term problems are not well addressed by CBT because of the short term natural of the treatment. Long term treatment is able to address extensive history of a particular problem and unravel the reasons why the problem has emerged and help clients investigate and become conscious of the underlying issues that stem from their personal history.
Where Can I Find a Counsellor, Psychiatrist or Therapist Who uses CBT?
If you or someone you care about is dealing with relationship issues, mood problems or other difficulties and believe you would benefit from working with a professional counsellor and would like to book a consultation with a qualified counsellor or would like to obtain further advice please contact:
Associated Counselors & Psychologists Sydney
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