Tuesday, December 9, 2008


“We cannot change the events that happen in our lives, but we can change the way we think about them and what we do about them.”

CBT focuses on two main areas:

1) Helping people to change what they are thinking

2) Helping people change behaviours that are unhelpful or harmful to them

That is why it is called Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. It examines the thoughts (cognitions) and behaviours of people.

CBT claims that most of our worries or anxieties, our depression or anger, come from the way we are thinking and looking at a situation. And, because of how we react and behave.

CBT, therefore, is all about identifying what we are thinking or doing which is not helpful to us or others and then challenging them and changing them.

It is not simply changing negative thoughts into positive thoughts. It is about seeing things as they really are. It is about being realistic. For example, someone who is anxious about failing an exam and thinks that life is not worth living if they fail, would benefit from challenging their beliefs and become more realistic by thinking things like ‘I can try my hardest and if I fail I can re-sit the exam.’ Or, ‘I am good at other subjects. Even if I fail this one it won’t be so bad.’ Or, ‘I have done well in the past, this worrying isn’t helping me concentrate.’

Sometimes CBT helps people to challenge unhelpful behaviours also. For example, people who get depressed often stop doing what they enjoy and stop seeing friends. A simple CBT challenge for people in these circumstances is to change that behaviour; to make themselves go out and continue to do things they enjoyed before, even if they don’t feel like doing it now.

CBT is about change. The change happens when people challenge how they think and do things. It is about beating the negative thoughts and habits that pull people down a downward spiral. It is saying ‘no’ to what is not helpful in life.

“The challenge is your choice!”

CBT gives the power:

  • To manage mood swings.
  • To manage behaviour that is harmful and self-defeating.
  • To choose better ways of responding.
  • To control negative thinking and negative moods.
  • To change - the choice is yours!!

It’s like breaking the chains that bind us.”

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