Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) is a relatively short-term treatment, goal-oriented approach that aims to reduce the symptoms of mental illness, increase self-awareness and improve emotional wellbeing. The key premise of CBT is that the way that we think about and interpret situations directly affects how we feel physically and emotionally and also what we do (and vice versa) and that sometimes the way we think about situations is biased or unbalanced.
For example, if you were speaking with a friend at a function and you noticed them look over your shoulder mid-way through the conversation, what sort of thoughts would run through your mind? Possible responses might include:
Thought: They think I’m boring Emotion: Hurt and embarrassed Physical sensation: Racing heart and sick in the stomach. Behaviour: You end the conversation prematurely by saying you need to go to the bathroom.
Thought: How rude of them! Emotion: Anger Physical sensation: Restless and hot Behaviour: You abruptly finish the conversation without explanation and walk away.
Thought: They seem distracted. I hope they are okay Emotion: Concern Physical sensation: Nothing of note Behaviour: You observing your friend more closely to try to figure out if everything is okay with them.
Thought: I wonder if they’ve just seen someone that they know arrive? Emotion: Neutral Physical sensation: Nothing of note Behaviour: You continue on with the conversation as usual.