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What is Cognitive Therapy?

Cognitive therapy is based on the idea that our thoughts create our moods.
In Cognitive Therapy we learn that we all have inherent tendencies to certain negative thoughts that evoke unhappiness and disturbance.
Once we accept that fact, we can learn to spot these negative thoughts as they come up, and then challenge and re-think them.

What is the theory behind “Cognitive Therapy” ?

Cognitive therapy was first developed in America around the middle of the 20th century.
Its main pioneer was Aaron Beck, a medical doctor, psychiatrist and psychoanalyst who came to believe that he was not getting enough improvement in his patients through analysis.
He realized that often what was holding back patients were negative thoughts such as: I’ll be hopeless at that, or I’m unlovable, or I’m stupid.
Another therapist, Albert Ellis, was also coming to much the same conclusions about patients’ negative thoughts and their tendencies to catastrophise or awfulise.
Elliss work with patients also became a form of cognitive therapy, now more commonly called rational emotive behavior therapy.
Both Beck and Ellis drew on the teachings of the stoic philosopher Epictetus who believed that: Its not things that upset us; it’s our view/perspective of them.

Will Cognitive Therapy work for me?

The benefits of cognitive therapy are well researched. CBT suits individuals with all sorts of problems including depression, anxiety, phobias, difficult relationships, obsessive-compulsive disorder and eating disorders - especially bulimia nervosa.
For many patients it has been found to be more helpful than any other kind of treatment, including antidepressants.
It does not work with adults who are not prepared to collaborate with the therapist to achieve a new way of thinking.
Treatment is also unlikely to succeed if clients stick to the view that they cant help their feelings or that they can only feel happy if someone or something else makes them happy.

What happens during a typical therapy session?

Every therapist has a unique and different way of approaching therapy sessions. However, Cognitive Therapists tend to follow a consistent road map from session to session. This helps clients predict and prepare, which gives more control to the client.
Cognitive Therapy differs from other therapies because sessions have a structure, rather than the person talking freely about whatever comes to mind. At the beginning of the therapy, the client meets the therapist to describe specific problems and to set goals they want to work towards. The problems may be troublesome symptoms, such as sleeping badly, not being able to socialize with friends, or difficulty concentrating on reading or work. Or they could be life problems, such as being unhappy at work, having trouble dealing with an adolescent child, or being in an unhappy marriage. These problems and goals then become the basis for planning the content of sessions and discussing how to deal with them.
Typically, at the beginning of a session, the client and therapist will jointly decide on the main topics they want to work on this week. They will also allow time for discussing the conclusions from the previous session. And they will look at the progress made with the homework the client set for him- or herself last time. At the end of the session, they will plan another assignment to do outside the sessions.

How long does therapy last?

Based upon your individual needs, your therapy may be considered a short term requirement (6 to 8 sessions) or an open ended therapy requirement (more long term, several months). Your therapist after the first or second session will determine if your needs are short term or more long term.  The session frequency starts once a week, and, if they are feeling better, soon move to once every two weeks, then once every three weeks. Therapists worldwide recommend booster sessions three, six and twelve months after the therapy has ended. Overall, therapy is a working relationship between you and the therapist. You both have to agree to work together, and if you feel therapy isn’t working, you can say so, discuss options with the therapist, and end therapy if you feel it is the right choice for you.

What about medication?

Many therapists treat patients without any kind of medication. However, some disorders ask for a combination of medication with the cognitive therapy. Medication can often help you get a better handle on your problems. Not all patients need to take medication in fact, for depression and anxiety; many people get better without medication. Some patients for example, those with bipolar disorder or schizophrenia should take medication as an essential part of their overall treatment program.
In both ways, and whether you are already on medication or would like to be, the best solution is to have an open discussion with your therapist who will arrange for a psychiatric consultation with a specialist to ensure that you are on the right medication and the right dosage.
It is after four to six weeks of therapy that your therapist will be able to assess whether you have progressed or not, and will be able to measure the level of progress and consequently determine if you need psychiatrist consultation or not.

How can I make the best use of therapy?

By reading about it.  Don’t hesitate to ask your therapist to suggest proper readings, workbooks, research, pamphlets, etc.
By doing your homework: what did you learn in the previous session? What would you want to discover in the next session?
By applying the sessions into your everyday life. Imagine you were studying a foreign language…you would need to practice it, right? Take notes, or even record the session. But most of all, discuss with your therapists what would be helpful for you to do in the coming days.

How will I know if the therapy is working?

If you’re doing your homework and regularly attending sessions, then you must be feeling a decrease in your symptoms after three to four weeks of therapy.

What can Cognitive Therapy treat ?

  • Depression and Related Disorders
    Depressive Disorders
    Cyclothymic Disorders

  • Anxiety Disorders
    Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
    Generalized Anxiety Disorder
    Social Phobia and Social Anxiety
    Specific Phobias
    Panic Attacks/Disorder

  • Eating Disorders
    Bulimia Nervosa
    Anorexia Nervosa
    Binge Eating/Compulsive Overeating
    Weight Loss/Management

  • Behavioral Medicine
    Diabetes Management Issues/Difficulties
    Stress Management
    Preventive Strategies
    Coping with Chronic Illness/Disability

  • Relationship Issues
    Couple/Marital Issues
    Parent/Child Issues
    Family Issues
    Workplace Relationships
    Sexual Issues

  • Sexual Dysfunctions
    Premature Ejaculation
    Low Sex Drive

  • Trauma Recovery
    Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
    Sexual Violence

  • Personality Disorders
    Borderline P.D.
    Obsessive Compulsive P.D.
    Narcissistic P.D.
    Dependent P.D.
    Avoidant P.D.
    Other Personality Disorders

  • Other
    Assertiveness Skills
    Social Skills Training
    Sleep Disturbances

  • Habits Disorders
    Smoking Cessation
    Skin Picking
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