Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
CBT, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, can be defined as a form of psychotherapy that focuses on helping patients to find solutions to behavioral and emotional reactions to troublesome situations. The interactions between thoughts, feelings and behavior are addressed during the treatment. Though treatment should be tailored to the patient, there are specific techniques and principles of cognitive behavioral therapy that make it to be an effective treatment, some of which will be explored in this essay.
Among the key principles of CBT is that it lays emphasis on active and collaborative participation. For positive collaboration to occur there must be a positive relationship between the therapist and the client. At the very least, a good relationship between the therapist and the patient is considered to be the base from which the whole treatment process takes place. A significant relationship has been established between the quality of the therapeutic relationship and therapeutic outcome across different therapy approaches (Ledley, Marx, & Heimberg, 2010). In conventional models, the therapist is viewed as the expert while the patient’s role is passive in the therapeutic process. However, therapists providing CBT as well as those in support of self-management programs assert that patients having psychological problems are their own primary caregivers, while the therapist has knowledge of the effective ways of finding solutions to the problems troubling the patient. The therapeutic approach in CBT is viewed as one between equals with different areas of expertise (Beck, 2011). Hence, in this collaborative approach, both the patient and the therapist have fundamental roles to play in the treatment intervention.
This principle makes CBT an effective form of therapy because it not only encourages patients to make inquiries, but it also enables them to formulate informed decisions. A collaborative approach encourages honesty and openness between the patient and the therapist. This is the main reason why it is recommendable for cognitive behavioral therapists to be open and clear about what the therapy entails and the reason for doing it. Patients should be asked to provide honest feedback concerning their feelings and perceptions. Collaboration grows as therapy continues. It is vital to encourage patients to gradually play a more active role in setting goals, giving feedback and devising homework (Branch & Willson, 2010). In this way, patients are able to learn the necessary skills for self-management.
Cognitive restructuring is one of the techniques employed in CBT. One of the key bases of cognitive behavioral therapy is that the emotions and behaviors of individuals arise from their thoughts and beliefs about themselves, about other people, and about the world. These cognitions play an essential role in determining how people interpret and evaluate what happens to them, influences how they feel about it and provides guidance on how they should respond. Unfortunately, there may be errors, biases, or distortions associated with the underlying evaluators, interpretations, beliefs and thoughts. The results of such distortions cause unnecessary suffering . This may act as triggers for people to react in a manner that is not in their best interest (Sudak, 2006).
Cognitive restructuring can thus be defined as a set of techniques that enable patients to be more aware of their thoughts .Cognitive restructuring approach does not result in distortion of reality.. Neither does it try to coerce the patient in believing the unbelievable. Instead, the approach employs evidence and reason in an attempt to substitute distorted thoughts with thoughts that are more believable, accurate and functional (Westbrook, Kennerley, & Kirk, 2007).
Cognitive restructuring makes CBT an effective therapy because by counteracting cognitive errors or thoughts, it teaches patients to modify the way they respond to situations. The approach not only enables identification of underlying inaccurate beliefs, but it also challenges the accuracy of such beliefs. By the use of self-talk strategies, maladaptive and inaccurate statements are counteracted and replaced with adaptive coping and realistic statements. Cognitive restructuring is an effective technique employed in management of stress, self-management of headache as well as cognitive therapy for a wide range of emotional problems (Lipchik, Smitherman, Penzien, & Holroyd, 2006).
Problem-solving, is another technique utilized in cognitive behavioral therapy. In the first therapeutic session, clients are asked to enumerate their problems prior to setting specific goals. This enables both the patient and the therapist to have a shared understanding of the ultimate goal of treatment. When problem-solving is utilized in self-management programs, patients are not only able to identify the problems they face in managing their condition, but they are also able to acquire techniques required for improving decision making, taking appropriate actions, and modifying these actions as they experience alterations in their illness or circumstances (Beck, 2011).
Problem-solving approach makes CBT an effective form of therapy because patients gain the skills necessary to develop alternative solutions, particularly those that may not have been condoned in the past. There are specific steps followed in order to find the most appropriate solution or intervention. The first step is identifying the triggers or factors contributing to the psychological problem that the client is facing. This is followed by generating alternative interventions or solutions to the problem. Each alternative solution is then evaluated, for instance, by taking consideration of effort, time and success probability. Choosing and implementing the solution is another step, which is followed by evaluating the outcome (Sudak, 2006). This clearly shows that a systematic procedure is followed in order to identify the appropriate solution to the problem that the client is facing.
In conclusion, while CBT and other therapies have some common features, there are elements that differentiate it from conventional models and make it an effective form of therapy. CBT is based on a collaborative approach which enables both the therapist and the patient to contribute equally toward the therapeutic process. Negative thoughts and beliefs, is one of the major causes of emotional problems that patients may face. The technique of cognitive restructuring, which is employed in cognitive behavioral therapy, makes it possible to counteract negative or erratic thoughts and replace them with functional and positive ones. Finally, problem-solving technique enables a patient to develop alternative ways of responding to situations. It is thus evident, that cognitive behavioral therapy is an effective therapeutic intervention for a wide range of emotional illnesses.
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Lipchik, G. L., Smitherman, T. A., Penzien, D. B., & Holroyd, K. A. (2009). Basic Principles
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Westbrook, D., Kennerley, H., & Kirk, J. (2007). An Introduction to Cognitive Behaviour
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