Cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) was developed in the 1960s by the American psychologist Aaron T. Beck. This type of therapy focuses on the interplay between thoughts, feelings, physical sensations, behaviors and the social context.
In CBT, the initially focus is on alleviating symptoms and the registration of negative thoughts, feelings, physical symptoms and actions related to these. The next step is evaluating thoughts and deciding on strategies and tools in order to make the desired changes. The therapy can also focus on the life experiences, assumptions, life rules, norms and values that affect the patient’s interpretations, self-image and worldview.
Let’s say an adverse event or the anticipation of a negative experience has triggered negative thoughts about self and others (“it’s all my fault when something goes wrong”, “others will think poorly of me”): This might then be linked to feelings of sadness, anxiety, shame or anger; symptoms like stomach aches, tensions, breathing difficulties or dizziness; and behaviors like withdrawal from social situations, activities and relationships.
The cognitive-behavioural therapist will work with the client to bring about desired changes in these types thoughts, feelings, physical sensations and behaviors. The therapist takes on an active role and shares and discusses ideas and interpretations with the patient. Psychoeducation is an important element of CBT, where the therapist informs the patient of, for instance, relevant research on the client’s condition or methods and techniques to change a pattern.