Cognitive behavioural therapy is a therapy that can be applied to many mental health problems. It is commonly used in the treatment of Anxiety and Depressive illness.
Cognitive behavioural therapy can be done individually or in a group setting. The person is often given tasks to perform in between sessions. Unlike other therapies, the therapist spends a lot of time talking and teaching, not just listening to the patient.
When treating someone with depression, the therapist will help the person see how negative thoughts affect mood. The therapist will help the person identify negative thoughts and learn how to replace them with more positive ones. The person is taught to change their thought from to more positive and more rational thoughts.
Negative or unrealistic thoughts are also challenged and tested until they are proven to be incorrect.
The therapy also focuses on changing behaviour that may be contributing to the specific problem. For instance, overwhelming tasks, may be broken down into smaller parts that are easier to do. They would set a weekly goal of completing 1 or 2 of the smaller parts. Very soon the person will have completed the big goal that was thought of as too hard. The person will learn to will feel much better by finding creative ways to achieve things.
Creating a healthy life balance by scheduling more pleasurable activities is also very important. By succeeding at work and spending more time on things he or she likes to do, the depressed person will begin to enjoy life more and feel better.
This type of therapy is also very helpful for people with anxiety. People who are anxious or nervous a lot, often have frightening thoughts that are irrational. The therapist will help this person identify the frightening thoughts and change them to be more realistic.
The therapist can help the person see that while there is a chance that their fears will be realized is very small and that their fear is not matching the reality of the actual dangers.
The therapist may also help someone overcome certain fears by slowly exposing the person to the thing which makes him or her afraid. This is called desensitisation. For instance, if a person is afraid of snakes, the therapist might have him or her look at pictures of snakes for a period of time. After a while, the individual will be able to look at the pictures without feeling afraid. Then, the therapist could have the person hold a rubber snake until he or she is relaxed doing this. Using this method of gradual desensitisation, the person will eventually become comfortable looking at and even holding a real snake. The same treatment can work for people with other fears, such as heights and public speaking.
Cognitive behavioural therapy can be used along with medication to treat anxiety and depression. It may take 6 to 8 weeks for a person to see a change in symptoms, although sometimes it occurs sooner.
But some people may find it helpful to have periodic checkups with their therapists. These therapies are usually administered by Psychologists or Psychiatrist. Individual clinicians may specialise in certain areas, so it is worth contacting the person to discuss your problem before you see them.