Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is also known by its acronym: CBT

CBT is one of the most popular treatment options for depression, anxiety, and a variety of other common challenges that people of all ages face. It is one of the best-supported, evidence-based psychological treatments available. What that means is that is has been demonstrated to work with many different types of people who have many different types of problems. We don’t just think it works, we know it works.

We also know that it is just as effective, if not more effective, than medication for anxiety and depression and that it has longer-term effects than medication. While medications can be helpful for mental health issues, once people stop taking them, they stop working. With CBT, your psychologist will teach you new skills that you can use for the rest of your life to help you manage strong feelings like worry, sadness, and stress.

How does CBT Work?

The name “CBT” gives us clues as to how it works. Your psychologist will help you focus on your thoughts (“cognitive”) and your behaviours (“behavioural”). The idea is that the way you think about an event influences how you react to it (i.e., how you behave and feel when it happens).

While many people think of certain situations as being inherently stressful, with CBT you will learn how to change how you react to situations, so that they become less stressful, upsetting, or anxiety-provoking for you. In reality, it’s not situations that are stressful, it’s the thoughts and feelings that come with them. That’s why a situation can be very stressful for one person and exciting or enjoyable for another (e.g., flying on a plane, going on a date, learning how to scuba dive, etc.)

Putting Cognitive Behavioural Therapy into Practice.

Let’s take the example of giving a lecture in front of 200 students. Here’s an example of one way someone could react to this situation with his/her thoughts, feelings, and behaviours.

The CBT Snowball Effect

In the above example, the thoughts this person had about the public speaking situation affected how they felt, emotionally and physically, and how they behaved. This created a snowball effect, with more unpleasant thoughts and feelings and unhelpful behaviours following from the initial negative appraisal of the situation. We all have situations in our lives that we experience as stressful, and that lead us down a path of negative thoughts, feelings and behaviours. Can you think of a situation this week where something happened and it led you down a thought/feeling/behavior spiral? If so, you may benefit from CBT.

Dr. Erika Penner is a registered psychologist in Vancouver, BC. If you would like to learn more about how CBT works or are interested in receiving treatment for anxiety or depression using CBT, feel free to schedule a consultation. You can send a message using the “contact” page or contact her office directly via email or phone: dr.erikapenner@gmail.com, 778-680-6865.

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