The CBT Basics

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is not about correcting faulty thinking as is often simplistically suggested in the press; rather it is about helping people to understand how they have become trapped by their attention, reasoning and current coping strategies and how to find ways out of these traps. The focus is on helping people to find helpful ways of thinking and behaving- it is not just about accuracy. Thinking one will die if one falls whilst trying to escape from the top floor of a burning house might be ‘true’, but it is not a helpful focus.

CBT does this by describing how we respond to the world in a way that gives us a strategy to modify our experiences when these are causing us distress. First it divides our experience in to three components; THOUGHTS, FEELINGS AND BEHAVIOURS, then it explores the interactions between them. Initially these distinctions may seem obvious. However, they are not ones that we use on a day-to-day basis as generally we respond to the world in a reasonably automatic way. So breaking our experience down in this way takes some practice.

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