Cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) is a psychological treatment that has been scientifically proven to be effective for a wide variety of mental health difficulties. The goal of CBT is to identify and modify unhelpful thoughts and behaviours that may be contributing to emotional difficulties and keeping you stuck. CBT is based on the premise that how we think (e.g., our beliefs and assumptions) impacts our feelings and behaviours. Consider the following situation and how three people might respond differently to it:

 

 

In CBT, you work collaboratively with your therapist to learn skills and strategies for dealing with unhelpful thoughts and behaviours. When people experience persistent negative moods like anxiety or depression, there is a tendency to focus on some parts of the situation (the negative parts) and ignore others (the positive or neutral parts). The aim of CBT is not to “think positively” but rather to consider situations from various perspectives in order to see things in a more realistic or balanced way. Furthermore, some behaviours that may feel good in the moment (e.g., slamming a door when we are angry) can actually maintain our difficulties or make things worse. Making changes to unhelpful patterns of thinking and behaving can have significant and long-lasting effects on our mood, relationships, and overall quality of life.

Does CBT Work?

CBT was first developed in the 1960’s and is now considered an evidence-based psychological treatment for a wide range of mental health difficulties. In order to be considered “evidence-based”, a treatment must have been delivered to large groups of individuals and data collected on how well the treatment actually works. This data is then carefully analyzed by researchers and scientifically shown to be effective. The psychologists at the Waterloo CBT Clinic have extensive training as mental health clinicians as well as scientists, and are committed to providing treatment based on the most current scientific evidence available.

What is the format of CBT?

A standard course of CBT lasts for 8 – 20 sessions, which typically take place once per week. CBT focuses on helping you learn skills and strategies for dealing with your problems more effectively.  In each session, your therapist will help you learn and practice a specific skill. The skills that are learned will be tailored to your particular concerns and treatment goals. The goal of CBT is to teach you a set of skills so that by the end of therapy, you will have the tools you need to be your own therapist.