What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?
Karyn Zhudhof, R. Psych
Every therapist works from a different theoretical approach, and though this is probably one of the more boring things to read about, it can be important when you’re choosing a psychologist who fits for you. Contrary to what might be portrayed in the movies, your psychologist does more than listen, and even when it feels like we’re holding a normal conversation, we’re actually asking questions and making comments with a purpose — the support we offer is different than a friend’s so it needs to be more purposeful than a conversation between friends. You don’t need to worry about this, this is part of our role and we’re happy to point out when and how we’re doing this if you’re curious.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is a popular therapeutic technique, and my favourite. You may have heard about it from your GP, and the reason they recommend it so often is because of the research supporting its effectiveness. It’s not the best approach for everyone, so if it doesn’t fit for you, that’s okay.
CBT — when we break it down, it means we’re looking at how you’re thinking about something and what you’re doing in connection with how you’re feeling. Let’s look at a low day for example. Picture it with me, I suspect we’ve all had a day like this before — We mope around the house, we don’t have any energy and we’re stuck in a thought pattern feeling around being incredibly alone and maybe a bit sorry for ourselves. We feel down and lonely. When we’re feeling down, it’s pretty normal to isolate, spend time alone and get lost in our thoughts. The feelings are down, the behaviour is isolation, and the cognition is focused on feeling lonely.
To help you move past these low feelings, my first few courses of actions would have you leaving the house (as simple as a walk), and focusing on something you can be thankful for. There is probably something, no matter how small, that you do enjoy or is going well in your life at the moment. Taking action, as well as changing how you’re thinking is what will make the big difference in having you feeling more connected and less down.
As you share your story with me, and you fill me on what you’re looking for help with, these are things I’m paying attention to. Offering empathy and support as well as helping you decide if the current patterns are realistic and good for you, or if there are changes we can make to help you live your best life. If you have more questions about CBT, book in for a meet and greet, myself or one of my colleagues would be happy to answer these for you, to help determine if CBT is a good fit for you.