You may have been referred by a friend, counsellor, psychiatrist or even a physician to visit a Cognitive Behavioural Therapist – CBT and may be wondering what to expect. A Cognitive Behaviour Therapist – CBT is a mental health expert who practises Cognitive Behaviour Therapy. CBT is a relatively newer age therapy that is backed up with tons of evidence and it has shown to be efficient in working on a variety of mental health and wellbeing/ self improvement concerns as well. CBT is also often used as an umbrella term for therapy that combines techniques and learnings from other evidence-based approaches.
What does a Cognitive Behavioural Therapist – CBT do?
You guessed it right! A Cognitive Behavioural Therapist – CBT helps you get a better understanding of your thoughts, your core beliefs, as well as associated emotions and behaviours to bring about meaningful change. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy – CBT is therapy based on cognitions or thoughts and behaviours. CBT primarily focuses on producing cognitive change.
“Change your thoughts and you change your world.”
Norman Vincent Peale
You may have heard the phrase “thoughts become things”. CBT agrees. Thoughts do impact our vision of ourselves, our world, our past as well as our future. We often attribute our emotions to situations or external events. We learn to recognize that thai is too simplistic an approach as in between the situation/event and how we feel, come our thoughts.
Why consult a Cognitive Behavioural Therapist – CBT?
- There is tons of evidence to support it. A lot of research supports CBT. In fact, many researchs claim that CBT can be as or more efficient than medication in some cases. Many studies also report its effectiveness to be more than other more traditional therapies.
- CBT can be quick! The times when you had to be in therapy for years are long behind us. With CBT, work begins within the first few sessions and typically requires 1 session a week for a few months.
- You can continue to apply what you’ve learnt even after therapy. CBT will give you coping strategies to take with you outside of therapy.
- CBT puts you in the driver seat. A CBT therapist knows that you know what is best for you and will help you reach there. They will encourage you to take charge of your life and make your own decisions.
- While doing CBT you can choose goals that you want to work on in therapy. Your therapist may also help you come up with these goals but being goal directed and solution focussed is one of the things that makes CBT great.
- In CBT you will work on your current problems. While your therapist may ask you about your past and create space for you to share, CBT operates in the present. There is no need to deep dive into early childhood experiences.
- CBT has a certain structure. CBT therapists will follow a certain structure to help you. This will be based on your specific concerns and how the therapist conceptualises it.
What to expect from a CBT Session?
You may be wondering what exactly will go down in your CBT sessions. While each individual therapist may have their own methods and processes based on their training, here is a general outline.
- At the first session or 2, the therapist will try to understand the concerns that have brought you to therapy. The therapist may give you a form to fill out before therapy or may have a list of questions to ask in the first session including demographic details, family structure, brief history, and the concern that you come with.
- In all sessions, the therapist will provide you with a space to share your concerns. The therspits will assume an empathetic, non judgmental stance to allow you to feel comfortable and at ease in sharing. This safe space is one of the things that makes therapy different from sharing with friends and family.
- The therapist will then attempt to collaboratively discuss and come up with goals/expectations from therapy. Sometimes they may be clear – such as I want to quit smoking. Other times, they may be decided together such as to reduce dependance in a relationship or to improve emotional regulation.
- Goals are then taken up one by one. These specific goals will then be worked on in detail in following sessions.
- An understanding of your problems from the cognitive model will guide the therapeutic journey. Problems solving techniques from other models will also be integrated for efficiency and betterment.
How to Prepare for the First CBT session?
If you are about to take up the first session with your therapist, take out some time to think about the areas of your life that you wish to discuss, work upon and share. Answering the questions below will help you prepare for your 1st therapy session.
- What are your reasons for seeking treatment? Try to answer this to get a better understanding of what you want help with.
- What would successful treatment look like for you? If you were to leave treatment feeling better and well, what change would that require?
- You may also think of the moment when you decided to consider therapy (or when someone else recommended that you should. What was happening in that moment or what happened just before that?
- What are some of your expectations from therapy? How do you think therapy will or should help you?
- What goals do you think you would like to keep for yourself going in for therapy?
- Do you have any questions for the therapist? You may want to list down some doubts, clarification for the therapist.
The therapist will help refine these goals and will be available to answer any questions that you may have.
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Book – Cognitive Behaviour Therapy: Basics and Beyond by Judith S Beck.