How does Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) Work?

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), is a common therapeutic approach used by many Waypoint counsellors in Victoria, BC.  CBT  is a very structure approach to common emotional and psycholgoical matters.  CBT is particularly useful in working with anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, anger, among others.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is based on the idea that whatever you are feeling, is likely due to how you are thinking about a situation or circumstance.  Often time, folks will get stuck in negative styles of thinking, which contribute to negative emotions and moods.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy cycle

CBT also looks at how thoughts-feelings-situations-physical feeling-and actions, are all inter-connected. CBT typically pays close attention to our thought patterns, especially negative thoughts and patterns.

Interrupting Negative Thought Patterns

Negative thoughts and thought patterns are at the core of CBT and it’s fundamental principles.  Also, interrupting and replacing negative thoughts and thought patterns is the aim of the various tools and techniques of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.

CBT essentially aims to identify negative thoughts and thought patterns, and understand how these are connected to a negative emotional state.  For example, folks who dwell on past events, tend to over-think and question themselves and their interactional experiences in the past.  If too much time is spent thinking about past events, it often can lead to feel depressed and insecure.

CBT interrupts these negative thoughts and thought patterns by asking folks to rationally review the thoughts and gauge their merits and validity.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy Tools and Techniques

CBT has a plethora of tools and interventions. However, the most basic and fundamental intervention in CBT is called the “Thought Record”.

The Thought Record is a worksheet used when someone noticed a negative change in their mood.  In it classic form, the Thougth Record asked folks to record then record the following information.  That is just before one started to have negative feelings, the worksheet calls for a review of these qualities and characteristics, such a (i)  date/time, (ii) what occurred, (iii)  what feelings came up, (iv) what thoughts, especially negative thoughts, came up, (v) which of the feelings is the ‘hottest’, (vi) which of the thoughts are the ‘hottest’, and (vii) how true is the thought, and lastly (viii) what is the evidence that support the thoughts and (ix) what is the evidence that contradicts the thougth.

The basic idea is to “litigate” the negative thoughts.  The exercise of slowing down the negative thoughts and the thougth patterns, along with clarifying the thoughts, helps one ask  if the thoughts are based in real, concrete factual information.  Often time, folks will be (over) reacting to a situation and circumstance, and will get wrapped up in one line of negative thinking. Guess what, that line of negative thinking may not be completely accurate, but we are interacting with the thoughts as-if these thoughts were true.