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Cognitive behavioral therapy

Auteur : Camille Kooijman - van den Brink

Cognitive behavioral therapy is a psychological treatment method. Would you like to know how this type of therapy works? Read this article to find out more.

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What is cognitive behavioral therapy?

Cognitive behavioral therapy centers around your thoughts and behaviors in relation to your symptoms. Do your thought patterns match up to reality or do you keep thinking things that are untrue or unhelpful? What attitude do you take towards certain events and are these justified? With the help of a psychologist, you’ll look at how you can move past your unhelpful thoughts and behaviors, cultivating more accurate thoughts and more positive behaviors.

Connecting thoughts, feelings and behaviors

Your thoughts affect the way you feel, and thoughts circulate around in your head all day long. Whether these are conscious or unconscious thoughts, they play a significant role in the way you feel. For example, your feelings might change based on the attitude you take towards certain events or because of memories from your childhood. Your self-image also plays a role here.

For example, you’re applying for jobs and you’re feeling very tense about it. Negative thoughts keep popping up in your mind: “I don’t have enough experience and they don’t like me”. These are examples of unhelpful thoughts that occur from a place of low self-confidence. They won’t help you to come across as self-assured and enthusiastic in your interview. The question is: Are these thoughts really true, and why do you think this way about yourself?

Avoidance behaviors also perpetuate negative feelings. If you have agoraphobia, visiting the grocery store, for example, might be a major task for you. But if you give into your fear and start avoiding crowded places, there’s little chance you’ll overcome your anxiety. How are you supposed to change your behavior?

During cognitive behavioral therapy you’ll work with a psychologist to examine your thoughts and behaviors. You’ll learn to look at situations more objectively, which will alter the way you feel about them. In turn, these more positive feelings will affect the way you behave. So, your behavior patterns will start to change.
The same also works in reverse: Your feelings may change as a result of changes to your behavior. For example, if you’re afraid of dogs, exposure therapy might work. This would involve petting dogs even though you’re afraid of them. When you realize that nothing bad is happening, your fear will become less credible and your anxiety will eventually fade.

Who is cognitive behavioral therapy suitable for?

Cognitive behavioral therapy is used to treat a wide range of different disorders and symptoms. It’s proven to be particularly effective at treating the following:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Panic disorder
  • Trauma and PTSD
  • Sleeping problems
  • Eating disorders
  • Addiction

What does the treatment involve?

Before commencing treatment, an evaluation must first be carried out. This means a psychologist will ask you a selection of questions. They’ll want to discuss exactly what your issue is and what you’re hoping to achieve. Which factors are perpetuating the problem? What is the aim of the treatment and what would success look like for you? Your psychologist will talk to you about the unhelpful thoughts that are holding you back. And together, you’ll examine which types of behaviors aren’t helping you to solve your problem. Which of these thoughts or (avoidance) behaviors would you like to tackle? From here, they’ll work with you to devise a plan for your treatment.

Treatment consists of a number of components:

  1. Psychological education: In other words, your psychologist will explain to you how your mind works, helping you to understand the problem
  2. Teaching certain skills
  3. Behavioral exercises: For example, pushing through avoidance behavior
  4. Challenging unhelpful thoughts

In short: You’ll learn the ways that your current thoughts and behaviors, related to the problem you came to see your psychologist about (whether that’s anxiety disorder, depression, mood disorder or PTSD), are not serving you. And you’ll learn what you can do about that. This isn’t just something you’ll work on during your sessions with the psychologist. They’ll also give you homework. It’s important that you play an active role in your own recovery in this way.

Finally, your psychologist will also work with you to create a prevention plan. How can you stop yourself from falling back into your old, unhelpful thought and behavioral patterns? Naturally, you don’t want your original symptoms to reoccur.

How long does cognitive behavioral therapy last?

In general, you’ll see pretty fast results with this treatment. Cognitive behavioral therapy usually lasts from between a few months to a year.

How much does cognitive behavioral therapy cost?

If you have a referral letter from your physician, then your insurer will usually reimburse you for the treatment. If you don’t have a referral letter, you can find the cost here.

How can you find a good psychologist?

Do you have further questions about cognitive behavioral therapy or would you just like to speak to somebody? It’s important to find a psychologist who makes you feel safe and comfortable.

iPractice is here for you, whenever and wherever you need us. Call or request an exploratory consultation online. This way you can make sure that you’re comfortable and that everything feels right. A psychologist can assess whether cognitive behavioral therapy is appropriate for your situation, ensuring that you receive suitable and effective treatment.

Auteur : Camille Kooijman - van den Brink

Psychologist

“Cognitive behavioral therapy focuses on changing unhelpful thoughts and behaviors“

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Contact one of our psychologists today without obligation. You can talk about your feelings and symptoms and get information about a suitable treatment programme for you.