Cognitive and Behaviour Therapies


What is it?

Cognitive and Behaviour Therapies are the most studied and widely evaluated of the different psychotherapeutic approaches. As well as being recognised by the medical profession as useful for treating many emotional and lifestyle problems, they are also widely available in private, voluntary and government funded counselling agencies. They are the basis behind such services as marriage guidance, bereavement, post-traumatic stress and substance abuse counselling

Cognitive Therapy

An experienced psychotherapist will probably draw on several different types of CT - the underlying precept behind them all is that it is our perception of ourselves and others, and of the events that gave rise to them that cause emotional and behavioural problems, and not the events themselves. The aim of the therapy is to alter a clients belief system in order that problems can be eliminated.

Brief Solution-Focused Therapy - this is generally the therapy used when a specific problem i.e. phobia, is present. It generally takes up to 3 sessions.

Cognitive-Analytical Therapy - This approach draws on psychoanalytic as well as cognitive techniques. A structured and focused framework is used to encourage patients to understand the origins of their attitudes and beliefs, and the effect they have on present feelings and behaviour in order that change may occur. Treatment may take several months or even longer.

Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy - psychologists rather than psychotherapists developed this method of treatment. Clients are required to question and remodel their basic outlook on life. Treatment may last from about three months.

Rational-Emotive Behaviour Therapy - Similar to CBT, practitioners of REBT believe that most emotional distress is the result of irrational or harmful beliefs. A technique called "disputing" is used to help patients to question their current attitudes and expectations, and to replace negative ones with new, more positive and productive ones.

Reality Therapy - Reality Therapists believe that human behaviour is designed to satisfy five basic needs, survival, the need to belong, the desire for power, the urge for freedom and the need for pleasure and entertainment. RT is designed to make people aware of their responsibility for their own actions and to recognise the failings of their current behaviour patterns and beliefs to satisfy their five basic needs, the client is then guided into exploring other ways of behaving and feeling. Treatment generally lasts for several months.

Personal Construct Therapy - PCT is based on the theory that we perceive the world not as it is, but as we construct it from personal experience. Treatment involves helping clients to restructure their view of the world, and is likely to last several months.

Behavioural Therapy

Behaviourism was an attempt to explain human psychology through studies of the behaviour of animals - Ivan Pavlov being the instigator. In the years after Pavlov's theory became common knowledge, a number of researchers began to apple the findings to the study of human behaviour.

Behavioural therapists believe that poorly adapted behaviour and negative attitudes feed back into the environment, making it worse and reinforcing the stimuli that caused the problems in the first place. The aim of the therapy is therefore to correct the undesirable behaviour patterns and perceptions, and to encourage the formation of behaviours and attitudes that are well adapted and productive.

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