Cognitive Behaviour Therapy is a collaborative therapeutic approach that teaches clients important connections between thoughts, behaviours, emotions, and physical sensations.
Cognitive Behaviour Therapy is an evidence-based therapeutic approach and is considered the gold standard for many psychological disorders, including anxiety disorders and depression. It is effective for adolescents, teens and adults. People learn, through Cognitive Behaviour Therapy skills, that they are able to tolerate distressing situations and their anxiety.
During CBT therapy, adolescents and adults will learn connections between their thoughts, feelings and behaviours. By learning these skills, Cognitive Behaviour Therapy enables individuals to become aware of unhelpful thought patterns and challenge these thoughts. This allows an individual to develop a more balanced perspective towards difficult and triggering situations. In doing so, people learn to see triggering situations from a variety of perspectives.
If an individual is engaged in CBT for anxiety, therapy will often focus on anxious thoughts and how these thoughts can lead to the experience of anxiety and distress as well as avoidance behaviours. This can help to raise awareness of how certain types of unhelpful anxious thinking styles (i.e., catastrophizing or rigid thinking) can increase our avoidance. This can even make our anxiety worse in the long run.
When individuals learn Cognitive Behaviour Therapy they can better understand the full picture of what might be happening to them and why they might be getting stuck in these unhelpful thinking patterns. It can allow for a decrease in avoidance behaviour. CBT therapy allows adults and adolescents to develop more balanced perspectives from “sticky thoughts”.
CBT therapy also allows adolescents and adults to manage difficult emotions and gain new perspectives. CBT for anxiety can also help us to change the relationship to our anxiety. We learn that we can tolerate the feeling of anxiety while also making space from difficult thoughts and feelings. These are all very important skills.
Cognitive Behaviour Therapy incorporates behavioural approaches (i.e., Exposure and Response Prevention; behavioural experiments) to allow people to begin to approach situations that are usually avoided due to high levels of distress.
During CBT for anxiety and OCD, individuals will engage in Exposure and Response Prevention. This involves gradually facing activities and situations that we would usually avoid. It may even involve expressing thoughts that feel scary. During the process of CBT for anxiety, individuals learn that what they fear might not happen. They also learn that they can embrace the uncertainty of not always knowing what the outcome of a feared situation might be.
Individuals often experience distress and catastrophic thoughts during exposure work. With enough practice and repeated exposure work, people will report that they can handle the difficult thoughts and feelings. This process in CBT therapy is very important for ongoing change. Individuals will practice both in vivo (i.e., in real life) and imaginal exposure work as part of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy.
Cognitive Behaviour Therapy also offers individuals several types of cognitive skills, which allow for shifts in our thought processes as well as shifts in our relationships to these thoughts. Although we cannot eliminate the thoughts we have, we can learn to have a different relationship to them. This can allow for people to have a different experience when these thoughts enter their minds. During CBT for anxiety and OCD, individuals will learn to challenge appraisals that they have about their intrusive thoughts. We often call this intervention challenging our thoughts about our thoughts. This can be very helpful.
During CBT therapy, people learn strategies such as thought records, continuum techniques and the responsibility pie. These techniques teach people to slow down their automatic thoughts. They can then catch these thoughts and look at them from different and more balanced perspectives.
The exploration of core belief work is also an important skill in CBT for anxiety, as it allows individuals to better understand what is driving their fears and unhelpful thought patterns. Individuals find these skills and strategies to be very powerful. They allow for insight into what fuels difficult reactions in a variety of situations.
Research has shown, time and again, strong efficacy for undergoing Cognitive Behaviour Therapy to treat a variety of mental health issues in adolescents, teens and adults. These include: obsessive compulsive disorder, skin picking disorder, hair pulling disorder, body dysmorphic disorder, panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, depression, trauma and eating disorders. If you are experiencing any of these mental health issues, cognitive behaviour therapy might be a great treatment fit for you!
Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) is a specific type of CBT also offered at FTPS. It has been developed for individuals who have undergone trauma. Through this therapy, individuals will learn to challenge stuck points about the trauma. This will allow for a different type of processing to take place regarding current and past trauma. It will also allow individuals to decrease avoidance they might be experiencing and process trauma-related emotions differently.
Overall, Cognitive Behaviour Therapy is a skills-based approach which enables people to, ultimately, become their own therapist. In doing so, individuals learn how to approach challenging situations and how to keep pushing themselves into situations that once appeared too daunting to face. The skills learned can be used throughout one’s life to challenge difficult thoughts and behaviours.
Cognitive Behaviour Therapy is a powerful approach that offers many tools for individuals dealing with a variety of presentations. At FTPS, our clinicians all practice Cognitive Behaviour Therapy. We use this approach for adults as well as adolescents and teens.
We have extensive expertise with Cognitive Behaviour Therapy. We use this approach when working with individuals with OCD and OCD-Related Disorders. We also use CBT in group formats for OCD and for a variety of other presenting issues, including anxiety, depression, trauma, academic-related stress, anger management, emotional issues and life transitions.