There’s no doubt that CBT is the gold standard of modern psychotherapy. It’s the go-to treatment method for a myriad of mental health issues including anxiety, depression, sleep problems, and dealing with trauma.
But while the effectiveness of CBT is well-profound, many don’t understand what this type of treatment is all about. That’s especially true for those who’ve heard of Behavior Therapy—a different, but closely named type of psychotherapy treatment.
So, what exactly is CBT and how is it different from Behavior Therapy?
More importantly, what can you expect in a CBT session?
Read on to find out.
What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?
CBT involves talking to patients in order to help them change the way they behave and think for improved mental wellbeing. The concept behind it is the assumption that our feelings, thoughts, and actions are all interconnected, and influence each other.
Based on this assumption, most of your life’s problems are a product of faulty thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. So by intentionally switching to healthier and more productive thoughts and actions, you can mitigate distress.
How Does Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Work?
In practice, CBT entails identifying all the faulty behaviors and thoughts and replacing each with healthier responses.
As a patient receiving CBT, you’ll learn how to break down overwhelming problems into smaller, more manageable parts. Next, you’ll learn to identify negative patterns in your thoughts and actions and how they contribute to your problems. You’ll then understand how to solve your issues by changing these negative patterns.
Unlike other similar treatments, CBT doesn’t dwell on past issues. Rather, it helps you find the right ways to deal with current problems in your life. It also provides practical solutions for improving your state of mind day-to-day.
How is CBT Used?
Cognitive Behavioral therapy is mostly employed in the treatment of depression and anxiety disorders. But it’s also an effective tool for treating conditions such as:
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
- Panic disorder
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Eating disorders
- Sleep problems
- Alcohol misuse problems
Additionally, CBT can help patients suffering from long-term health complications. These include irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). Although it won’t treat the physical symptoms brought about by these conditions, makes it easier to cope with them.
CBT vs. Behavior Therapy: What’s the Difference?
Behavior therapy focuses on positive reinforcement and includes a reward system. Its main goal is to encourage positive behavior by rewarding it and ignoring negative actions until a change is realized.
CBT, on the other hand, aims to change a patient’s inner beliefs and thoughts to achieve a positive outlook. Unlike Behavior therapy, it takes negative actions into consideration and uses them to find a solution. Also, CBT doesn’t include a reward system.
In some conditions, a patient can benefit from a combination of both types of therapy. These include depression problems, PTSD, autism, and OCD.
What Can You Expect in a CBT Session?
Knowing what to expect from therapy is important for both physical and mental preparedness.
Here’s what each CBT session entails:
1. The First Therapy Session
The first CBT session is all about assessment. Here, you explain to your therapist the problems you’re facing, and what you’d like to achieve through therapy.
Your therapist will ask lots of questions about the various areas of your life. This will give them an idea of the key factors contributing to your problem so they can device appropriate treatment.
Based on what they gather, the therapist will determine whether they’re the right fit for you. If not, they’ll refer you to a more suitable expert.
Sometimes, the end of your first session may involve discussing possible treatment plans and intervention techniques. In other instances, you’ll need a separate assessment session for that.
2. Successive Sessions
Following the initial assessment, the actual treatment begins. Your therapist has a clear picture of your problems, and they’ve devised the right course of action. You’ll meet once a week or every two weeks for 5 to 20 sessions, with each period lasting 30 to 60 minutes.
In treatment sessions, expect to spend more time working on ways to solve your problems. You’ll dwell on learning and practicing the various skills needed to address your issues. That’s unlike conventional talk therapy, where you’d spend most of the time talking about them.
Each CBT session will follow a pre-outlined structure to ensure that you get the most of your time. It’ll begin with a brief check-in, and then you’ll review the previous session and its homework. Afterward, you and your therapist will jointly set the next session’s agenda. For the rest of the session, both of you will work on the agenda items for that day.
Homework will remain a component of treatment sessions throughout, as it makes therapy more effective. The homework assigned in a given session will help you practice and master the skills you need to address your issues.
In early treatment sessions, your homework will mostly entail tracking mood changes and certain behaviors during the week. Later on, it will entail more demanding actions. These include identifying faulty thinking patterns and correcting your way of thinking
3. Final Sessions
After realizing substantial progress, you’ll start reducing the frequency of your sessions. Remember that CBT isn’t like traditional therapy, which takes years to work. It teaches you to be your own therapist, which only takes a couple of months.
And since you need to learn to rely on yourself and the skills you’ve learned, you’ll see your therapist less frequently as you finalize your treatment. This will allow you to develop confidence in your ability to handle the problems that brought you to therapy in the first place, as well as subsequent challenges.
Find Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Near You
If you’ve been looking for a personalized CBT session, your search ends at Blair Wellness Group.
Whether you’re a busy professional with no time for years of therapy or someone willing to invest whatever amount of time it takes to achieve a better mental state, we’ve got what you need. Our unique therapy combinations will help you achieve faster long-lasting mental well-being.
Get in touch to schedule a CBT session and learn more about our services.