What is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)?

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a widely used therapeutic approach that focuses on the relationship between thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. It is based on the idea that our thoughts and beliefs influence our emotions and behaviors, and that changing maladaptive thought patterns can lead to changes in emotional well-being and behavior.

Key principles of CBT include:

  1. Cognitive Restructuring: This involves identifying and challenging negative thought patterns or cognitive distortions. Clients learn to recognize and reframe irrational or negative thoughts, replacing them with more realistic and positive ones.
  2. Behavioral Techniques: CBT also emphasizes the role of behavior in influencing emotions. Clients work on changing specific behaviors that may be contributing to their difficulties. This involves setting goals, developing coping strategies, and gradually exposing oneself to feared or avoided situations.
  3. Homework and Skill Building: Clients often engage in homework assignments between therapy sessions to practice and reinforce the skills learned in therapy. This helps to generalize the skills to real-life situations.
  4. Goal-Oriented and Time-Limited: CBT is typically a short-term, goal-oriented therapy. Clients and therapists collaborate to identify specific, measurable goals and work towards achieving them within a defined timeframe.
  5. Collaborative Relationship: The therapist and client work together as a team, with the therapist providing support, guidance, and teaching practical skills. The client is an active participant in the therapeutic process.

CBT has been shown to be effective for a variety of mental health conditions, including anxiety disorders, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and many others. It is a structured and practical approach that is often used in individual or group therapy settings. We always tailor the approach to you and your unique needs but often offer CBT therapy in Kelowna, BC and offer CBT therapy online throughout British Columbia.

What is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)?

I love this resource by Anxiety Canada, which also has a free App Mindshift that I highly recommend. I hope you enjoy 🙂

Thought diary

Why is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy considered the “gold standard” in anxiety treatment?

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is an evidence-based psychological treatment that was developed through decades of scientific research.

Research shows that CBT is the most effective psychological treatment for managing anxiety. It is also an effective treatment for depression, chronic pain, disordered eating, anger issues, addiction, and low self-esteem.

CBT Focuses on the Present

An important principle of CBT is that treatment involves dealing with the symptoms that you face in the present, rather than focusing on the cause of your problem. Although it can be interesting to understand how your anxiety developed, just knowing why you have anxiety is often not enough to help you manage it. CBT:

…gives you a new way of understanding and thinking about your problem.

…provides you with the skills to deal with the issues that you are struggling with right now.

… is often a short-term treatment option and is offered in both individual and group settings.

… can be done with a trained CBT therapist, in a group setting, or you can practice it on your own.

Read on to learn more.

Quote from Tom Power: ": I was able to put the panic disorder in remission. The most profound way I was able to do that was through CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy)."

#OurAnxietyStories – The Anxiety Canada Podcast features several anxiety stories involving CBT. In this episode of #OurAnxietyStories, CBC’s Tom Power shares his journey with anxiety—something he didn’t realize he struggled with until his adult years.

Tom recalls being in his mid-twenties at a social gathering and thinking he was having a heart attack, only to learn it was a panic attack when he sought medical attention.

In this episode, Tom reflects on several instances of anxiety in his life, including at the dentist and the grocery store, and while interviewing Academy Award-winning director Guillermo del Toro.

Through exposure therapy, Tom learned that panic attacks only last so long and he can get through them—an invaluable lesson that has helped him until this day.

Anxiety is still present in Tom’s life, but he shares that CBT and meditation have helped him manage it.


Why is CBT effective?

CBT focuses on the way people think (“cognitive”) and act (“behavioural”). CBT suggests that our thoughts about a situation affect how we feel (emotionally and physically) and how we behave in that situation. By identifying these unhelpful thoughts initially through the principles of CBT, we are able to stop them in their tracks.

As human beings, we naturally give meaning to events that are happening around us. However, we often don’t realize that two people can give two very different meanings to the same event. The meanings we assign to the situation affect how we feel and act rather than the situation itself, and these meanings are not always accurate, realistic, or helpful.

Unhelpful thoughts lead to unpleasant emotions and unhelpful behaviours (e.g., avoidance) that reinforce our negative thoughts and maintain the problem. In other words, our thoughts, feelings and behaviours can interact and influence each other to create a vicious cycle.

We all have negative thoughts every now and then, but if we consistently apply negative meanings to events, then we are likely to experience problems with anxiety or depression. CBT can help us break out of the vicious cycle.

Exposure therapy (see Facing Your Fears – Exposure) and balanced thinking are vital tools in your CBT toolkit. Learning to take a closer look at your thoughts and coming up with more balanced and realistic thoughts is an important step in managing anxiety (see Helpful Thinking for more information).

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