What does CBT involve?
The CBT sessions
There are individual and group sessions. Some sessions are on hand books or even computer programs. Nowadays, you can connect to a therapist online.
If you opt for individual CBT:
- Typically it takes around 20 weeks, which means you have 20 sessions, since you attend a session once a week. Each session takes around 1 hour. Some therapists might ask you to meet them on a fortnight basis.
- Within the first 4 weeks, your CBT therapist will ensure you feel comfortable with the therapy, and they will also ensure you are ready to go through the therapy.
- The CBT therapist will investigate your past and your background to understand and know whether your past has something to do with your current situation. CBT deals with the present.
- You are given a chance to choose what you want to do in the short-run and in the long-run.
- Your therapist will always give you a chance to decide on what to talk about in every session. You will always need to come into agreement with the topic.
How it works
- You will need to keep record of the sequence of your thoughts in a diary. You and your therapist will work together to separate the problems in sub-parts. With this, you will be able to understand your own thoughts, your reactions, and your emotions.
- With the help of your therapist you will be able to tell if:
- Your thoughts are unrealistic
- Your thoughts are not useful
- How your thoughts affect you
- How your thoughts affect each other
- The therapist will expect you to practice what you discuss. Depending on the context and your situation he will always ask you to:
- Pick a self-degrading thought about yourself and replace it with a more useful thought that you have gotten from your CBT.
- Understand that by filling your mind with unhelpful thoughts, you are only worsening your situation, and he will ask you start thinking in a way that will positively impact your situation.
- The therapist will guide you on behavioral change and help you change useless thinking to useful thinking.
- When starting each session, you first discuss how you have carried yourself since the last session. Your CBT therapist will help you identify useless thoughts and assess your improvement.
- The therapist will always tell you to do things at your freewill. CBT is a lifetime experience, and, as so long as you practice your newly acquired skills, you are likely not to have depression again.
Is CBT effective or not?
CBT is the most convenient treatment for:
- Severe depression
- Moderate depression
What are the alternatives to CBT, and are they better than CBT?
The following are the most common alternatives to CBT:
- CBT is said to be better than anti-depressants. It is recommended that, in the case of anxiety, CBT should be used.
- CBT can also be used alongside the anti-depressants. This is for cases where a patient is diagnosed with severe depression.
Problems associated with CBT
- Therapy takes a long time to complete. The therapist actually trains you but can’t do anything or make any decision for you.
- It is hard to focus and motivate yourself using CBT. You will require a lot of concentration.
- You need to face your anxietie to overcome them. This may lead to you being more anxious.
How long will it last, who will do it, and how?
The CBT course may take up to 6 months. The minimum number of weeks is 6 weeks. The following are true about CBT:
i. CBT has time limit. CBT should not last forever. You will always have up to 20 sessions only. At this time, you will have to learn to manage your own anxiety.
ii. CBT is organized. It also has educational qualities. The sessions include learning how to keep useful thoughts in your mind. You will be given assignments and homework. Your therapist will review your performance. The therapist assesses your progress in the beginning of every session.
iii. You will have to collaborate with your therapist. You will work together and he/she will help you understand how to manage your anxiety. Expect to be actively involved in all these processes. Your efforts matter a lot, and if you put effort in the recovery process, you will get the best out of your therapy.
iv. Take this example of how positivity may be instilled in you:
You are afraid of cats, but you have a friend who is fond of cats. To change your thoughts about cats, think like that friend, like if you actually saw the cat you would love to pet them, play around with them, and be happy. To reduce your fears of cats by gradually approaching the cats, your fear of cats will most definitely reduce. You will actually learn that cats rarely use their paws. This is called exposure therapy, and this tool will help you control your anxiety in the long run. You can also start thinking positively about cats, and things like if cats bit or pawed people all the time after all, no one would keep them in their houses. Remember when you are anxious, your thoughts will only be clouded with the negative thoughts about the cats, like they can kill or they might bite or paw me. Remember, if you transform your thoughts, your feelings will be transformed too, and you will most definitely act in a different way. You will learn from your CBT on how to balance your thoughts without negative bias and how to be realistic.
The following are very important facts to remember about CBT:
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy is scientific, and research has been done in this field, so it definitely helps in the treatment of depression and anxiety. Cognitive-behavioral therapy teaches you useful ways of thinking and using your thoughts in a positive way to change your behavior to benefit you. The combination of these two elements of cognitive-behavioral thinking help define your actions with which, if treatment is effective, should also be positive actions.
- How you think, what you do, and how you behave are so connected that if you change one, then all the others would also change. If you, for example, can change what you think by thinking of a different thing or by behaving in a totally different way, you will make positive progress. In case the therapy is not working, you will feel anxious, and your negative thoughts will be more prevalent.
What if the symptoms come back?
In some rare cases, after the completion of the CBT, there is a risk of depression coming back. You will have learned skills on how to deal with depression and anxiety, and these skills should help you counter the depression or the anxiety. It is therefore necessary that you keep using the skills so that you don’t forget them. You should always refresh your course on your own. Of course, like we mentioned, CBT is better than anti-depressants, and you can carry the skills anywhere once you acquire the skills. It does not cost you any money to practice what you learned. That’s why you should be keen when taking the CBT course. You can also help close friends and family members who are undergoing the same problem as you.
- How you think, what you do, and how you behave is so connected that if you change one, then all the others would also change.
- Understand that by filling your mind with unhelpful thoughts, you are only worsening your situation.
- Your therapist will always give you the chance to decide on what to talk about in every session.