The CBT Basics You
Need to Know
Ready to learn some cognitive behavioural basics you need to know?
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is a counselling term that has been growing in popularity and for good reason.
When I experienced a workplace “mental health injury,” CBT was one of the treatment methods that helped me get back on my feet and actually BETTER than I had been before the incident.
There have been many studies showing how useful CBT can be, including through self-help or with a mental health professional. You can find books, worksheets, podcasts, videos… if you look you will find!
Maybe that is how you came across this post on Cognitive Behavioural Basics You Need to Know!
How about we dive into things…
Posted: April 5th, 2021
Disclaimer: Although I am a mental health professional, all information and reflections are meant for educational purposes only. If you plan to make changes in your life, it may be worth consulting with loved ones and/or your wellness team. Also, this post may contain affiliate links that will connect you with some pretty cool products and when making a purchase through those links, I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.
What is CBT?
In a nutshell, CBT is a combination of cognitive therapy and behavioural therapy. What does this combination provide?
Explanation: Thoughts influence our emotions and physical reactions which lead to a behaviour.
Example: Say I am on a walk and wave at someone I know, but they do not wave back.
Thought: I guess they do not like me.
Physical Reaction: Sweaty, shaky
Behaviour: Stop texting with them even if they message you.
A different scenario…
Thought: They mustn’t have seen me.
Emotion: No provoked emotion.
Physical Reaction: No provoked reaction.
Behaviour: I carry on with my day.
This is a common example used to help people understand the effects of our thoughts on our behaviours.
The purpose is to change maladaptive coping to healthy coping. Obviously easier said than done!
Unfortunately, there is not enough space for me to write ALL of the methods, because there are so so so many, which is likely why it is so helpful. Also, each mental illness have their own treatment recommendations and there are many on the list that have been heavily researched.
That being said, I can explain some key points.
One main piece of CBT with a counsellor is collaboration. They want you to be able to take care of yourself once therapy is done. To do that, you need to agree with the tools being used!
An additional perk to CBT is that it doesn’t take forever to accomplish the goals you set out. Through a structured and creative problem-solving approach to change thoughts and behaviours, you can start to see results sooner than later.
Do not be surprised if you come across tracking tools for CBT.
CBT specialists want you to prove to YOURSELF how much your problems are influencing your life. Keeping track of downfalls and wins are extremely helpful insights!
This could be tracking your mood three times per day or writing down how many times you anxiously washed your hands. It can even just be how frequently negative thoughts pop up!
Time to look at those thoughts…
Did you know that we can get caught in negative thought loops? Maybe you have experienced certain stressful thoughts that make it difficult to cope.
They are spontaneous and usually the same patterns that happened previously. Some examples are catastrophizing, minimizing, fortune telling and mind reading.
Stay tuned for the upcoming Negative Thoughts blog post from Another Chapter for more info.
Underlying assumptions are the rules you follow because you sense that they are what is the right things to do. Its’s the expectations we hold which influence our behaviours.
With core beliefs, these are how you view the world and your perception of how everything works. These are less personalized than assumptions, but come from years of experiences that have happened to you.
Being able to identify these types of thoughts helps find ways to ground yourself or reframe the thoughts from negative to neutral!
The behavioural component is typically related to experimenting with what activities work and what do not.
With your counsellor (or on your own), make a guess to how your new healthy behaviour is going to influence your circumstances. A “hypothesis” for your experiment, so to speak.
Maybe it is a healthy grounding technique which reduces anxiety throughout the day. Or possibly a response you have planned for people who ask for things at work.
Whatever the circumstance, you check if certain methods work, and if not, there are many more options to brainstorm!
*Exposure therapy is also a behavioural method, but would need further discussion and should be completed with a mental health professional.*
This may not have been the most exciting blog post about Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, but it has a little bit of information! Hopefully you’ve learned some cognitive behavioural basics that you need to know before continuing onto your CBT journey!
More blog posts to come for more CBT specifics.
CBT Information Retrieved From:
Kennerley, H., Kirk, J., & Westbrook, D. (2017). An introduction to cognitive behaviour therapy – Skills and applications (3rd ed.). London, England: Sage Publications