Cognitive Behavioural Therapy or CBT is a psychological therapy which helps individuals understand the links between their thoughts, emotions, sensations in the body and their behaviour. In day to day situations individuals make appraisals of the information they receive through the physical sensations in their body and the five senses. This results in thoughts about ourselves, other people and the environment. Thoughts trigger emotions and a decision is made whether or not to express thoughts and feelings in our behaviour, including what we say. If an individual's thoughts are skewed more negatively then they are more likely to feel anxious, experience low in moods or suffer from low self confidence. Behaviour reflects a person's beliefs about what they need to do in order to cope with the more distressing emotions and consequently can become repetitive.
CBT uses diagrams to explain the links between symptoms which are called formulations. A typical formulation for depression might look like this:
The CBT therapist helps the client to become more aware of their patterns of thinking and ways that they can challenge them to make them more rational.
Similarly repetitive behaviours are identified and questioned to determine whether they are helpful or unhelpful.
This understanding of the client's way of thinking and behaving forms the basis of the individual's decision about change with the aim of achieving improved emotional experience...simply feeling better!
For CBT to be successful it is essential that the client is committed to therapy and prepared to undertake work outside the sessions which may take the form of keeping a journal of thoughts and feelings, undertaking some reading or completing a behavioural exercise..