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What is CBT Therapy?

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, also known as CBT, is a psychotherapy intervention with a primary focus on the reduction of symptoms associated with mental health disorders. CBT analyzes the relationship between thoughts, feelings, and associated behaviours. CBT is based on the idea that thoughts and perceptions influence the emotions and behaviours people exhibit. With that the premise is that by changing the way we think, we can change the way we feel and in turn behave.

CBT is usually a short-term therapy, where the goal is to identify and modify negative thought patterns and behaviours which contribute to the distress and individual feels. CBT has shown to be an effective treatment route for mental health struggles including depression, anxiety, alcohol and substance use problems, eating disorders, and other mental illnesses.

CBT follows core principles that help achieve the goal of treating various conditions. These principles include cognitive restructuring which helps individuals identify their feelings, behavioural activation which helps individuals participate in activities that bring them joy, skill building with CBT helps teach practical skills, and exposure therapy helps gradually expose feared scenarios in a safe manner to confront fears and manage anxiety.

There is minimal risk in participating in cognitive behavioural therapy, however, there may be times where feelings of discomfort and emotions surface. This presence of intense emotion can be because CBT allows for you to explore feelings, emotions, and experiences that may be associated with negative events. Overall, you can expect CBT to involve learning about your mental health, and why you may feel the way that you do. You can also expect to learn and practice various strategies such as relaxation, coping, resilience, and stress management. CBT will help you identify your traumatic situations or other reasons that are playing a role with how you feel. CBT will help you become aware of what you feel, how you feel, and why you feel it, as well as your beliefs about these feelings. CBT can help you identify your negative thoughts and how to reshape your thinking.

Again, CBT is a short-term therapy option that ranges from about 5 to 20 sessions, where you and a therapist can talk about what lengths may be right for you. Factors that you and your therapist can consider when coming up with a treatment plan will include the type of disorder or situation you are facing, the severity of your symptoms, how long you have been experiencing your symptoms, your progress during the sessions, the stress you are experiencing, and how much support you have outside of therapy.

CBT is not necessarily the fix, but it can be an effective option to help manage and understand the position you are in, and to feel better.

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