What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?

In Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, behaviors are believed to be the outcome of how one views his world.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy has been initially designed to manage and treat depression by taking a closer look at the individual’s thinking and mindset and suggesting ways on how to tweak them a little bit to effect a desired change in behavior.

While within the realm of psychotherapy, it should be noted that the principles of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, CBT for short, can be applied to almost any aspect of modern day life.

The Mind-Action Connection

In Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, behaviors are believed to be the outcome of how one views his world. The way an individual perceives his world – the things around him, how other people act, and/or why do such things occur – shapes the responses that are seen by other people as that individual’s behavior.

For example, knowledge of the potentially deadly consequences of taking illicit substances can spur someone to stay away from these illicit substances. The knowledge component accounts for the cognitive aspect while the staying away action is the behavior. 

Unfortunately, the connection between cognitive processes and behavior are much more difficult to ascertain than showing the relationship between elevated blood sugar levels and the risk for the development of diabetes. Cognition, like anything metaphysical, is purely subjective. This means that how a person thinks and feels is entirely different from one person to another. You may have a different idea of what substance abuse really is while another person may interpret it very differently.

This is where the challenge in CBT really is. As such, like all psychotherapeutic modalities, it takes time before any significant understanding can be established.

Understanding CBT

It is within this context of determining the actual cognition of the individual that the effectiveness of CBT truly lies. When therapists are able to understand how an individual thinks and feels, they can structure several programs meant to change the person’s view of a particular situation. The change in mindset as well as feelings can then be translated into changes in the behavior or actions of the individual.

So the very first crucial step in CBT is the assessment of the individual’s cognitive processes as well as feelings. Here it is important to identify the different critical behaviors that require modification; for example, taking illicit substances. The next step will be the determination of the kind of critical behavior whether it is a deficit or an excess. In the example of substance abuse, the behavior can be taken as an excess.  

What follows will be the evaluation of the critical behavior in terms of its frequency, intensity, and/or duration in an attempt to establish a baseline. This is necessary so that future outcomes can be accurately referenced to. Without a baseline data, it will be almost impossible to measure the progress of the therapeutic regimen.

Once the assessment has been accomplished, the CBT therapy can proceed to include reconceptualization, acquisition of skills needed to effect the desired change, consolidation of the skills learned and its application in simulated situations, and generalization of the learned skill. This means that the individual will have to be taught to apply the same basic principles in almost every other aspect of his life.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is a fundamental therapeutic regimen employed in many substance abuse programs. The whole essence of the therapy is in the modification, if not changing, of the behavior through the correction of faulty thought and cognitive processes related to substance abuse.

Distributed by eBrandit Inc.

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