Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and Schema Therapy

What is Cognitive Behaviour Therapy?

  • Cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) is a type of psychotherapeutic treatment that helps patients to understand the thoughts and feelings that influence behaviours.
  • CBT is commonly used to treat a wide range of disorders, including phobias, addiction, depression and anxiety.
  • CBT is generally short-term and focused on helping clients deal with specific problems.
  • During the course of treatment, people learn how to identify and change destructive or disturbing thought patterns that have a negative influence on behaviour.
  • The underlying concept behind CBT is that our thoughts and feelings play a fundamental role in our behaviour. For example, a person who spends a lot of time thinking about plane crashes, runway accidents and other air disasters may find themselves avoiding air travel.
  • The goal of cognitive behaviour therapy is to teach patients that while they cannot control every aspect of the world around them, they can take control of how they interpret and deal with things in their environment.
  • CBT is also empirically supported and has been shown to effectively help patients overcome a wide variety of maladaptive behaviour and is supported as an evidence-based intervention by the (British) National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) and the British National Health Service (NHS).
  • Clients in CBT can expect ‘homework’ involving for example recording thoughts and feelings outside of sessions, and implementing agreed upon strategies for change.
  • CBT is based on the model of mind built up through experimental research in cognitive psychology and learning theory.
  • CBT doesn’t look primarily at what caused the troubling behaviours and thoughts, or at deeper layers of the mind. It is therefore less appropriate for deeper analytic work or dealing with more wide-ranging issues in a person’s life for which psychoanalytic psychotherapy or psychoanalysis might be preferable.
  • Instead, CBT focuses on the immediate, conscious problem, in a commonsense, rational and supportive way. CBT is therefore most suitable for clients who wish to improve on specific areas of their life.
  • Many professionals are increasingly adopting an eclectic approach, utlizing what is best from various orientations such as psychodynamic, relational, cognitive, behavioural, humanistic and existential, in order to give clients flexible and effective therapy.
  • Schema Therapy and Mentalization Based Treatment are examples of integrative approaches which include both cognitive and psychodynamic techniques.
  • Jospeh Dodds has several CBT trainings, including a Diploma in CBT and a Diploma in CBT-based Addiction Counselling from the University of the West of Scotland and the Institute of Counselling, and Schema Therapy training with Dr. Jeffrey Young.
  • For more on the various kinds of psychotherapy and their relation to psychoanalysis, psychiatry and psychology, see this useful summary: Making sense of psychotherapy and psychoanalysis