In a CBT session, a therapist will guide their patient towards talking about how they think in certain situations and how this thought process, in turn, influences their actions in both positive and negative ways. In essence, CBT therapy asks its patients to deeply analyse how their thoughts influence their daily lives and actions and eventually leads patients to a place where they can critically assess their thought processes and alter them towards healthier patterns that facilitate an improved lived experience.
The basic premise of CBT therapy is that our thoughts can directly influence how we behave and that, in turn, our actions can reinforce how we think and feel. Hence, the way we feel and act is connected to how we think about ourselves. In CBT, therapists and clients work together to isolate destructive and repetitive thought patterns that may be reinforcing dangerous and harmful actions and routines in day-to-day life. For example, a CBT therapist may help a client who has been diagnosed with Anorexia Nervosa to isolate thoughts relating to self-worth that may be motivating the client to avoid eating.
Other conditions that CBT has been shown to improve include bipolar disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder, schizophrenia and other psychosis-related disorders, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
CBT is often offered in one-on-one therapy sessions with therapists, but can also be used in group therapy. The number of CBT sessions a client needs depends of the difficulty of their problem and how long they have been experiencing destructive thought patterns. CBT is also available as a form of self-help. Many books and online courses are available for individuals to use who feel the need for personal growth but don’t necessarily want to visit a psychologist.