7 Steps to Building Self Esteem

CBT
PSYCHOLOGY Update with Jayne Cat

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or “CBT” is a common technique that psychologists use to assist patients analyse their own thoughts and break unhelpful thought patterns. But what is CBT, and how and why does it work? In this month’s Newsletter, Psychologist Jayne Cat describes the Four Principles of CBT and how they apply to her patients.

The Four Principals of CBT
  • The way you think will determine how you feel and this will come out in your response.

When you think happy thoughts it makes sense that you won’t feel sad! And of course, if you think happy thoughts and you feel happy, you won’t respond to situations in a negative manner- Instead you respond in a happy and positive manner. Your mood matches your thoughts – and your behaviors’ and responses will match your moods and your thoughts.

  • Our thoughts can be rational and realistic however when a person becomes vulnerable to mood disorder their thoughts can become irrational and unrealistic.

When an individual becomes affected by a mood disorder they will start to think negatively about themselves, the world and their future, and whether these thoughts are true or not they will react to them as though they are true. This results in worsening their mood and will prevent them from thinking positively- which in turn will worsen their condition.

  • Our early life experiences can teach us to think rationally or realistically or they can teach us to think irrationally and unrealistically and this will leave a lasting effect on how we think.

Think of yourself as a two year old child in the park with your mother and little brother. You’re running around having fun and mum is taking care of bubs. As your run to the swing you see in the distance two men interacting and you watch while mum is busy.

One of the men is holding something and cowering from the other man. The other man is standing over the cowering man with his fist clenched as though he is going to hit the cowering man. As you watch this interaction, the cowering man hands over whatever he was holding to the man with the clenched fist. The man with the clenched fist takes what the man has handed to him and puts his fist down and walks away.

Due to your age you may not realize the man with the clenched fist is bad or a bully as at that age you do not understand. As a two year old, what you see is that holding your fist at someone will get you what you want.

  • The way to reduce emotional distress is to change the way we think however this takes practice.

To change the way you are thinking you must first start to listen to your self-talk i.e. what you are saying to your self. This allows you to start listening to your thoughts as your thoughts are developed through your self-talk. As many of our beliefs about ourselves, situations and the world are derived from early learning experiences. Because of this, these thoughts / beliefs can be very deep-seeded and are usually deeply interwoven in our everyday internal dialog this is why you need to practice listening to what you say to yourself and what you are thinking.

Using CBT we get patients to listen to and then challenge their negative or unhelpful internal dialogue in order to change the way that patients feel and respond to different life situations.