Cognitive therapy is first and foremost a psychotherapeutic approach which attempts to influence human behaviours and dysfunctional emotions. The methodology behind cognitive therapy is to analyse negative emotions and identify inaccurate and dysfunctional behaviours. The method is both goal-oriented and well-organised.
The theory behind this method was formed as a result of merging the works of Aaron T. Beck and Albert Ellis. The two theories that were merged to create this method were behaviour theory and cognitive theory. It is therefore now known as Cognitive Behavioural Theory (CBT). Albert Ellis first originated rational therapy which was a main step in the development of CBT. Aaron T. Buck was inspired by Ellis’ work and this led him to develop cognitive therapy.
In the beginning both of these theories were compared and there was an attempt made to determine which one was the best approach. However they were merged instead into one to form CBT. The creation of this joint theory has led to the development of successful treatments for panic disorders. CBT is also very good for the treatment of issues including: personality complexes, anxiety, mood, and substance abuse. Other psychotic issues can also benefit from CBT and it has been used to reduce some criminal behaviour as well.
After analysing negative emotions and identifying inaccurate and dysfunctional behaviour, CBT seeks to replace these harmful influences with more realistic and positive ones. Some of the therapeutic systems which make up CBT are: cognitive therapy, rational emotive behaviour therapy and multi modal theory. Techniques included in these systems include keeping a record of negative feelings, thoughts, behaviour and beliefs and learning how to accurately identify them. These techniques are practiced by the patients themselves under the monitoring of a therapist. CBT can help stabilize mood and treat conditions like bipolar disorder.
If there is a phobia of social situations, the same theory and methods are used however they are modified slightly for use in a group setting.
Clients can also use software programs to practice CBT. These programs can serve as an alternative to a face-to-face meeting with a therapist. If a therapist is unavailable, this means that a patient can still get the guidance and the counselling that they need. Some people who suffer from depression and loss may feel too afraid or may hesitate in talking to a person about their problems. In these cases CBT software may be the best solution in these cases.
Some of the main conditions which are treated by CBT include insomnia, mental disorders, mood disorders and panic disorders. With the help of a therapist, a client may also do some behavioural experiments in order to see how and if this would help them improve their quality of life.
CBT is also used with children and adolescents. There has been some remarkable work done in this area by Mark Reinikie and his colleagues. The “Friends Program” that was started by Paula Barrette is also a part of the CBT approach. The World Health Organization has recognized that this program is the best for the treatment of anxiety in children.
CBT is very similar to the “Scientist Practitioner Model” where the clinical practice and research work is done from a scientific perspective. This method places an emphasis on measurement.
There are some non-CBT therapists who criticize its methodology. Some further information on CBT (including some of the criticisms) includes:
• The amount of research and published literature on CBT may give the impression that other, less documented forms of therapy are somehow inferior or sub-standard.
• People who undergo any form of therapy will, in theory, show some signs of improvement. Therefore, the number of people who are showing improvement may not be related to any extra level of effectiveness of CBT
• CBT is effective in the treatment of anxiety disorders. Studies do show that someone with one of these disorders may show much more improvement than someone with the same disorder who used a different method of therapy
• CBT provides a valuable level of relief from depression and other mood disorders
• Several analyses show that CBT is good at treating mental disorders. Recently, CBT has become well-known for its effectiveness in correctional settings. It can reduce criminal behaviour and CBT programs have been started in many different prisons and jails.
• Patients will show gradual improvement over the course of the therapy sessions. It is this continual level of improvement that has caused it to become well known in comparison with other therapy methods. Some disorders may show up again during the course of therapy but this is decreased by consistent and regular therapeutic sessions
It is important to realize that the effects of cognitive behavioural therapy will not be felt overnight. It can take considerable time and effort from the patient and the therapist in order to replace psychotic or negative behaviours.