Not able to handle stressful situations effectively?
Consider cognitive behavioural therapy.
Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a psychotherapeutic treatment with the objective of helping individuals identify and change negative thinking.
During the sessions, you’ll work closely with a psychotherapist through short term counselling or long term psychotherapy.
The ultimate goal is to become consciously aware to be able to view challenging situations clearly and respond more effectively.
Issues That Cognitive Behavioural Therapy Can Help With
The above list is not exhaustive.
CBT can be used as a sole therapy method, or combined with other therapies for the best results.
It’s also important to note that not all individuals who benefit from CBT have a mental health condition. This therapy is great for anyone who’s seeking to learn how to better manage and cope with stressful situations.
How Does Cognitive Behavioural Therapy Work?
During the therapy session, the psychotherapist will work together with you to identify some of your struggles, understand how your thought process may be causing certain negative feelings and how these feelings result in certain undesirable behaviours. They’ll also help you understand how these behaviours play a part in fuelling and reinforcing negative thoughts.
From there, they’ll guide you through pointing out the triggers for these negative thinking patterns. This is because certain situations may trigger thoughts that have an effect on our feelings, physiological sensations and behaviours.
Here’s a flowchart for visualisation:
Thus, CBT helps clients to
- recognise the power of your thoughts,
- identify triggers that cause negative thoughts and behaviours and
- learn how to modify your thoughts.
Techniques Employed In Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
Identifying negative thoughts
The first method is to increase self-awareness of your thoughts. Most of the time, our thoughts come so naturally that we don’t realise the effect that they have on us and our actions.
To be able to identify negative thought patterns, one way is to reflect on the thoughts you had when you felt a negative emotion. From there, observe the triggers that led to certain reactions and identify the thoughts you had before reacting that way.
Socratic questioning of your thoughts
Socratic questioning is a type of disciplined questioning to learn more about the nature of your thoughts. Do note that while some thoughts should be questioned, some are completely normal and healthy.
To determine if your thoughts should be questioned, you may ask yourself these questions:
- Are my thoughts based on a fact, opinion or feeling?
- Are my thoughts accurate or realistic?
- Could it be that I misinterpreted or misunderstood the situation?
- Is the situation straightforward (black and white) or is it more complicated?
By asking these questions, you become more aware of the type of thoughts you have and how to modify them.
Developing problem-solving skills
Honing your problem solving skills will allow you to recognise life problems and figure out how to work around them. This will improve your ability to cope with stressful situations.
This process includes 5 steps:
- Identify a problem
- Develop a few feasible solutions
- Assess the pros and cons of each solution
- Select a solution to implement
- Implement the solution
Self-monitoring through journaling
Self-monitoring involves recording your thoughts, symptoms and behaviours in a journal to share them with your therapist. Each journal entry should minimally include
- Description of the situation
- Thoughts that you had
- Emotions that you felt
- How you reacted
- An alternative thought that would’ve been more positive and helpful
This consistent effort enables you to get better at recognising the nature of your thoughts. Your therapist will also be able to advise on suitable treatments moving forward.
Our Counsellors Skilled In Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
Sophia works with teenagers, adults and couples. Her preferred modality for clients is a “third-wave” CBT approach known as Acceptance Commitment Therapy (ACT).
Why Choose Sofia Wellness Clinic?
4 years of experience
Our clinic has 4 years of experience guiding clients through their mental health journey. We’ve attended to different ages and client profiles to effectively manage their unique mental health conditions.
To support our clients’ mental health journey, we seek to only use evidence-based counselling approaches that have proven to be effective. Each treatment plan is also tailored specially for your needs.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I know if CBT is suitable for me?
According to Sophia (Principal Counsellor at Sofia Wellness Clinic), it’s always a collaborative approach when it comes to treatments. Our counsellors will work together with clients to come up with a case formulation and decide on a suitable treatment plan together.
At times, clients who have heard of CBT may request to try it whereas other times, the counsellor is the one who proposes using CBT.
It also depends on whether the client is suitable for it — because CBT is very focused on thoughts and challenging of negative thoughts, it’s probably not suitable for someone who’s not strong in language or not very self-aware of their thoughts.
There are also some people who don’t believe that their distress comes down to their thoughts, so the idea of CBT doesn’t sit right with them, and that’s alright too — our counsellors will look for something else that fits their worldview.
How do I choose a CBT therapist?
There are several factors you can consider when choosing a CBT therapist.
- Education and experience
Psychotherapists can have different job titles, depending on their education level and work experience. This is something to consider as the more experienced counsellors may be able to prescribe a more suitable treatment plan for you.
- Area of expertise
It’s important to find out if the therapist has experience with treating your symptoms, area of concern or mental health condition.
For your treatment to be effective, you have to be able to feel comfortable and be open with your therapist. Thus, consider going for initial sessions with a few therapists before deciding on “the one”.
How should I prepare for my CBT session?
- Therapy costs
Before signing up for therapy, understand the fees involved as you may need long term therapy to cope with your symptoms. It’d also be good to check if your health insurance has coverage for therapy. Lastly, speak to your preferred clinic about the fees and payment options.
- Review your concerns
Prior to your first session, it would help to think about the issues that you want to work on. This will help to facilitate the session by providing a good starting point.
What happens during my first CBT session?
During your first CBT session, the therapist will learn more about you and the concerns you want to work on.
Topics that may be addressed include
- Your past and current physical and emotional health
- Your therapist’s approach and proposed therapy for you
- Goals of your treatment
- Duration of each session
- Number of sessions you may need
What is the difference between cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavioural therapy (DBT)?
DBT is a modified version of CBT, however, both of them are distinct as they have different approaches to treatment.
CBT mainly helps clients to identify and change negative thinking patterns and behaviour. On the other hand, DBT doesn’t have an emphasis on changing thoughts. It primarily helps clients to regulate emotions and improve relationships through acceptance and behavioural change.
Typically, research has shown that CBT tends to be more effective for depression, anxiety, OCD, PTSD and phobias. For borderline personality disorder, DBT is usually better. However, ultimately, the more suitable approach varies for each individual’s unique personality and situation.