Cognitive Behaviour Therapy is a form of evidence-based psychotherapy that emphasises the importance of 'thinking' in how we feel and what we do. Thinking affects our behaviour which are the action tendencies that we perform consciously and unconsciously.
There is a causal relationship between our thinking, our feelings and behaviours. We have more control over our behaviours and our thinking than our feelings and emotions.
We can change the way we think in order to influence the way we feel. We can also change our behaviour to affect our thinking and feelings. The outside circumstances do not need to have changed for these changes to take effect.
CBT help people understand what the thought processes are that are leading to their current situation. This insight then allows the client to be better able to effectively control them.
Understanding how and why a person is behaving or thinking a certain way means a person can begin to create change and progressively have an impact on their own growth and psychological health.
How Does CBT Work?
People who are depressed, anxious, or struggling with a variety of life issues may have thinking patterns that are distorted. CBT promotes understanding of how a person's reactions play a part in how they experience and deal with life.
This understanding can be used to develop new ways of coping. It can strengthen self-esteem and ways of dealing with feelings such as despair, shame or helplessness.
CBT helps people identify where their thoughts and actions may be negative, distorted or self-sabotaging, and then to replace these with more accurate, grounded and positive thoughts and responses.
CBT empowers people to become mindful to their own thoughts, to explore and test ways of improving their quality of life, and to become over time a master of their own mental and physical health. It is true that we can have a powerful effect on our own lives by learning to understand and control our thinking patterns.
CBT and its adoption of Mindfulness Strategies
Early explorers of Tibet who wrote about Buddhism, such as Christmas Humphreys, brought awareness to Western culture that yogis and monks were able to directly control bodily states and functions via meditative and trance-like states. In the 1960’s the advent of Zen Buddhism and the embrace by the New-Age adherents of Eastern philosophies, led to an increasing mainstream awareness of positive effects of meditation and mindfulness practices.
The direct use and adoption of mindfulness concepts in Cognitive Behaviour Therapy(CBT) started in the early 1970’s when such practices as Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) was introduced by Jon Kabat-Zinn.
He taught MBSR and Mindfulness to medical patients to manage their pain and despair by noticing their mind and its distortions, judgements and escapisms. They were taught how to intervene and reduce the stress that arose from the mind “acting out” in this way via moment-to-moment non-judgemental awareness and compassion for themselves.
The practice of mindfulness shows up in CBT as both are practices that work with one’s mental, here and now state of mind. Dr .Jeffrey Young, author of CBT book, The Feeling Good Handbook, states that CBT has a focus that looks at how anxiety, tension, and stress arise from worrying about the future. Similarly, guilt, regret, resentment, sadness, and bitterness arise from focusing on the past.
CBT emphasises through such techniques as “Ten Ways to Untwist Thinking”, in conjunction with mindfulness, how to reside fully in the present and to live our lives in a satisfying and meaningful way.
Cognitive Behaviour Therapy is an effective form of front brain focused treatment for people with distorted thinking patterns, low self-esteem, Obsessive Compulsive Disorders(OCD), mild to moderate depression, anxiety and panic disorders, agoraphobia, eating disorders, and personality disorders.
It is not a panacea to all issues people have. Emotional based disorders respond better to body centric, emotional inclusive therapies which do not just engage the thinking dimension such as is generally the case with CBT.