Understanding CBT - zwavelstreamclinic.co.za
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Understanding cognitive behavioral therapy

Featured image_Understanding cognitive behavioral therapy

Have you ever heard the term cognitive behavioral therapy

If you have read some of our blog articles, chances are good you’ve heard us mention this form of therapy before.

CBT is a form of psychological treatment that has been proven to be effective for depression, anxiety disorder, marital problems, eating disorders, and severe mental illness. It is so effective because it leads to a significant improvement in functioning and increases a patient’s quality of life.

Several studies have proven and bear witness to the positive impact of cognitive behavioral therapy.

CBT was developed in the late 1960s by Aaron Beck. Since its inception, the concept has been extensively researched and has had a significant contribution to psychology in general. Furthermore, it has also proved to be effective as an adjunctive treatment for serious mental disorders such as bipolar and schizophrenia.

And it has been adapted and studied for children, adolescents, adults, couples, and families.

Much like any other form of treatment, CBT has several core principles which include:

  • The cause of some psychological problems can be traced back to faulty or unhelpful thinking.
  • The causes of psychological problems can be attributed to learned patterns of unhelpful behavior.
  • By learning better ways of coping with psychological problems, people can relieve their symptoms and restore their quality of life.

In CBT, strategies are used to change thinking patterns. These strategies include:

  • Recognizing one's distortions in thinking that are causing problems and reevaluating them accordingly.
  • Developing a better understanding of others' behavior and motivation.
  • The ability to solve problems in difficult circumstances through the use of problem-solving skills.
  • A greater sense of self-confidence is developed through learning.

To change behavioral patterns, CBT treatment includes the following strategies:

  • Learning how to face one’s fears
  • Using role-playing to prepare and prevent problematic interactions
  • Developing the ability to calm one's mind and relax one's body

Source: National library of medicine & Post traumatic stress disorder

It’s important to note that not all CBT will include these strategies, and treatment is based on the individual’s unique therapy requirements. With CBT the psychologist and patient collaborate together to develop an understanding of the root cause, which would determine the treatment strategy.

Why is it effective?

Several empirical and pragmatic studies show that CBT is effective, according to an article written by Robert L. Leahy, Ph.D. Despite the severity of the problems, CBT can be effective because it is capable of engaging even the most severe mental health disorders.

Multiple doctors who use cognitive behavioral therapy as their primary means of care have reported successful results even in high-complex cases such as PTSD, specific phobias, anxiety disorders, depression, and several more.

A person's thought processes and intrinsic behavior provide the foundation upon which most mental disorders can be effectively treated.

Treating depression with CBT

Depression is still a major problem in our society that we need to address. It is prominent under the female demographic and because the average citizen struggles to get access to adequate mental health care, the situation worsens.

As stated earlier in the article, CBT has proved to be effective in treating depression due to its ability to address thoughts and behaviors that negatively impact a person’s life. These thoughts or behaviors can be identified and addressed appropriately.

The primary benefits include:

  • Understanding how your behaviors are influenced by your thoughts or beliefs
  • Setting clear goals for the future
  • Taking accountability for your actions and making changes where need be
  • Learning to cope with feelings of anxiety, stress, or depression
  • Preventing relapses in behavior or emotional responses

Treating anxiety with CBT

Much like depression, anxiety is also still a threat to our society and our mental health. However, the good news is that CBT can reduce if not get rid of anxiety as a form of treatment. In many cases, patients are unaware that they struggle with anxiety and often confuse it with an overload of stress.

Cognitive behavioral therapy gets to the root cause of a patient’s anxiety and the triggers thereof. 

Once this has been established, the therapist can work on a strategy to help the patient cope with their anxiety. Another treatment in conjunction with CBT is exposure therapy. Emotional process theory forms a theoretical framework for understanding the rationale for exposure-based treatments.

This theory basically stipulates that fear is represented by associative networks (cognitive fear structures) that maintain information about the feared stimulus, fear responses (eg, escape, avoidance, psychophysiological responses), and the meaning of the stimuli and responses (eg, tiger = danger, increased heart rate = heart attack).

Source: National library of medicine


The benefits of cognitive behavioral therapy

CBT has several benefits when it comes to treating mental health conditions.

Here are some of the benefits:

It provides hope to people

More often than not, people who struggle with their mental health have a pessimistic outlook on their future. It can be hard for those who struggle with mental health issues to be positive about their condition.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy changes this by showing people that their thoughts aren’t always accurate and reality can be very different. When we learn to control our thoughts, we open our minds to new possibilities.

It increases self-esteem

Several mental health conditions are associated with low self-esteem. This feeds the cycle of negative thoughts which influences our behavior. CBT can help the individual disrupt the pattern of negative thoughts and how to control them.

Once you understand your thoughts your belief system changes and so does how you view yourself.

It helps people relax

We can learn to control our reactions to our symptoms through CBT's behavioral component. A variety of relaxation techniques are often used to develop calmer responses. In turn, this helps us regulate our responses to triggers which reduces symptoms.

It enhances our rational thought process

As we mentioned earlier, the main benefit of CBT is to gain control of our thoughts. As we question and replace negative thoughts over time, our thinking processes can change.

Once this happens you will no longer allow negative thoughts to control your emotions and you can think rationally about difficult situations.

How ZwavelStream clinic can help

Treatments and support

We offer group therapy sessions as well as individual therapy sessions in a completely destigmatized environment. Group therapy serves as a support system where patients learn and grow with each other.

The recovery process is approached through information sharing and also to teach patients the skills they need to support their recovery.

With individual sessions, the patient and doctor form a supportive relationship and these meaningful connections are very valuable to patients seeking mental health care.

The therapist spends one-on-one time with the patient during the treatment phase. These sessions give patients the opportunity to talk through their problems with a trained professional. This equips the patient with the tools needed to cope with their symptoms appropriately.

ZwavelStream has gone above and beyond to destigmatize and de-institutionalize our clinic to provide patients with mental health care in a relaxed environment.

We are set in the beautiful Bronberg region of Pretoria east and our rooms are spacious and tastefully furnished. At ZwavelStream Clinic, we understand the importance of a strong support system to sustain well-being.

Family and loved ones are considered a primary part of the healing process, and the clinic empowers them by offering information and support sessions. We assist patients (and their families) to understand their illness and how it affects their lives.

If you or someone you know is struggling with their mental health, we encourage you to reach out to us. You can reach out to us by clicking on the contact us page on the website.


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