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What is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy?

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is the most scientifically proven for of psychotherapy, having been the subject of hundreds of clinical studies. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy has been proven to be the most effective psychological treatment for problems such as anxiety, depression, relationship problems, and even physical problems including chronic pain and heart disease. Whereas traditional talk-therapy primarily focuses on rehashing the past, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is present focused, targeted at the current factors negatively impacting mood and life satisfaction. Because it is more present-oriented and goal-directed, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is typically briefer than traditional talk therapy. Depending on the problem, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy can last as short as five sessions. However, for people with more long-standing or severe mental health concerns, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy may take several months to years to achieve one’s goals. However, even with more severe problems, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is usually of shorter duration that traditional talk-therapy. 

How Does Cognitive Behavioural Therapy Work?

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy works from the premise that although problems may have started in the past, they are being maintained by things we are doing in the present. Specifically, in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, people learn to identify the thought patterns and behaviours they regularly engage in that are acting as barriers to improving their mood or achieving their goals. The Cognitive Behavioural Model is a way of understanding how thoughts, feelings, and behaviours transact to either get us what we want, or keep us stuck where we are.

We often believe that negative situations are to blame for our current unhappiness or lack of satisfaction. According to the Cognitive Behavioural model, it is actually our reactions to situations that are problematic. This is good news, because we have more influence over our thoughts and behaviour than we have over anything else. By identifying the ineffective thinking patterns and behavioural responses to negative situations, we are able to target them and change how we feel and respond to life events. In other words, if you want to feel differently, you have to learn to think and behave differently. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy teaches people to identify the patterns that keep them stuck in a negative feedback loop, and engage in new, more effective patterns. 


What Happens in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy?

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy begins with an initial assessment interview in which you identify the problems you want to work on and goals for treatment. Once you collaborate to set goals, you and your Cognitive Behavioural Therapist will work together to identify the thought and behaviour patterns that are contributing to negative emotions and/or not achieving goals.  By focusing on these barriers and learning new patterns of thinking and behaving, session after session you get better at recognizing old, unhelpful reactions, and implementing new, more effective ones. 

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