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CBT: What to Expect

Updated: Mar 5

Written by Dr. Daniela Steyn

If your doctor referred you to Wellness MD for CBT, you might be wondering what to expect. In the following post, I will explain how I typically implement CBT with my patients.

CBT stands for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, a widely used therapeutic approach in psychology and mental health treatment. It is a structured framework that focuses on the relationship between thoughts, emotions, and behaviours and how they influence one another. CBT is goal-oriented and typically involves collaboration between the therapist and the client to identify and modify unhelpful thinking patterns and behaviours.

Our ultimate goal at Wellness MD is to help our clients find more joy. We identify though patterns that steals joy, objectively discuss these thought patterns with our clients, then guide our clients towards more helpful though patterns.

Neuroplasticity is a big topic that we won't cover here, but in a nutshell, Your brain continues to grow daily. We can create new thought patterns and new pathways at an old age. In the same way that I work with patients after a stroke, people who have not suffered from a stroke also have the capability to tap into their own brain potential.

While there is no single standardized CBT framework, here is a general outline of the key components and steps commonly used in CBT:

  1. Assessment: The therapist and client work together to identify the client's specific concerns, symptoms, and goals. They gather information about the client's thoughts, emotions, behaviours, and relevant life experiences.

  2. Psychoeducation: The therapist provides the client with information about CBT principles and how thoughts, emotions, and behaviours are interconnected. The client learns about the role of cognitive distortions (unhelpful thinking patterns) and how they can contribute to emotional distress.

  3. Collaborative goal setting: The therapist and client establish specific, measurable goals for therapy. These goals are typically focused on changing problematic thoughts and behaviours, reducing distressing symptoms, and improving overall well-being.

  4. Cognitive restructuring: The therapist helps the client identify and challenge negative or distorted thoughts and beliefs that contribute to emotional distress. The client learns to recognize cognitive distortions and replace them with more realistic and balanced thoughts.

  5. Behavioural experiments: The client engages in real-life experiments to test the validity of their beliefs and assumptions. This involves actively trying out new behaviours or responding differently to situations to gather evidence that challenges unhelpful thoughts.

  6. Skills training: The therapist teaches the client practical skills and techniques to manage distressing emotions, such as relaxation exercises, problem-solving strategies, and communication skills. The client practices these skills outside of therapy to generalize them to everyday life.

  7. Homework assignments: The client is often given homework assignments to practice new skills, complete thought records, or engage in specific behavioural tasks between therapy sessions. This helps reinforce learning and facilitates the application of new strategies in real-life situations.

  8. Review and feedback: The therapist regularly reviews the client's progress, provides feedback and support, and adjusts the treatment plan as needed. The client and therapist collaboratively evaluate the effectiveness of interventions and make necessary modifications.

It's important to note that CBT is a flexible framework, and therapists may adapt it to meet the unique needs of each individual. The specific techniques and interventions used may vary, but the overall goal remains to help individuals develop more adaptive thoughts, emotions, and behaviours to improve their well-being.

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