Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) combines cognitive and behavioural therapies and has strong empirical support for treating mood and anxiety disorders. It also has beneficial application to other therapeutic aims such as achieving personal goals and overcoming dysfunctional behaviours. The basic premise of CBT is that emotions are difficult to change directly, so CBT targets emotions by changing thoughts and behaviours that are contributing to the distressing emotions.
CBT builds a set of skills that enables an individual to be aware of thoughts and emotions; identify how situations, thoughts, and behaviors influence emotions; and improve feelings by changing dysfunctional thoughts and behaviors. The process of CBT skill acquisition is collaborative. Skill acquisition and homework assignments are what set CBT apart from other therapies.
In CBT the concentration is on specific treatments for a limited number of the patient’s problems. The focus is on changing maladaptive cognitions and dysfunctional behaviours through specific techniques. Specificity of the treatment is required because of the limited number of sessions and because the patient is required to be diligent in using extra reading materials and homework to assist in his or her therapeutic growth. CBT is a relatively short form of psychological intervention and lasts an average of 8-12 sessions.
Dr JC Coetzee Christian Clinical Psychologist, Psychotherapist, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy Centurion, Midstream, Midrand, Pretoria.