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The benefits of cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT)

If you suffer from depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder or a similar problem, you may have heard of “cognitive-behavioural therapy” or CBT. This is a type of treatment that involves talking with a trained psychologist, psychiatrist, family doctor or other health professional who has special training in this area. The “cognitive” part of the therapy refers to changing the way you think, while the “behavioural” part helps with the way you act.

What is CBT?

CBT is a type of short-term “talk therapy”. Depending on how complex their problems are, people typically undergo between 5 and 20 CBT sessions. During these sessions, they learn to focus on the present and solve issues as they happen. One goal is to teach people to identify overly negative or distorted ways of thinking. Another is to help them modify their approach to dealing with worries and solve problems in a more rational way. CBT also includes ways to change your behaviour, since what you do can affect your thoughts and feelings. CBT can be done one-on-one with a therapist or in a group session.

How does CBT work?

When you decide to begin CBT, you and your therapist will set goals to work on during your sessions. While undergoing CBT, you may have “homework” each week so that you can make progress between sessions. This homework may be in the form of a diary or questionnaire. You may even be given some suggested strategies to use when you start thinking in a negative way or find yourself in a situation that makes you feel anxious. If you feel overwhelmed by problems, CBT teaches you how to break them into smaller, more manageable parts.

What conditions can CBT help with?

CBT is known to be one of the most effective treatments for depression and anxiety. Research has shown that it can also help with several other conditions, including panic disorder, phobias, social anxiety, stress and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). It can even be helpful with certain eating disorders and some sleep problems.

How do I know if CBT is right for me?

CBT doesn’t benefit everyone. If you decide to try CBT, you will be given a detailed assessment to determine whether this approach to therapy is right for you.

Cognitive-behavioural therapy