Cognitive behavioral therapy is one of the most popular models of psychological intervention known to be effective and versatile, applicable to a wide range of problems to be treated. predominant methodologies in current psychological intervention due to their effective results.
here we will meet the particularities of cognitive behavioral therapy, With a summary of how you work from it to helping people.
What do we mean by a cognitive-behavioral model in psychotherapy?
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy includes a number of techniques and strategies useful for helping people with psychological (or not necessarily psychopathological) needs or problems based on the scientific method. These forms of intervention aim to achieve a profound change in the cognitive and behavioral processes of the person, Giving you more resources to deal with certain situations.
This type of therapy is applied to a wide variety of psychological disorders and issues in the way you care about others. historically, was born in the 1950s and 1960s in response to the behavioral perspective of human emotions and behavior, Understanding that the latter was too reductionist and limited; however, in a way, it inherits the forms of therapy offered by behaviorists.
Features of cognitive behavioral therapy
Let’s see what are the main characteristics of the cognitive-behavioral model.
1. Focus on the present
Cognitive-behavioral therapy is based on a bio-psycho-social conception of the individual; that is, it assumes that the way people think, feel and behave is the product of a dynamic and ever-changing process in which the biological predispositions of the body participate as a social context in which he is alive. Therefore, it does not look so much at the causes of problems in the distant past (e.g. childhood years) as in the present, from an analysis of what happens in the person’s daily life at this point in his life.
2. Take into account what are called cognitive schemas.
One of the main functions of cognitive behavioral therapy is achieve a more lasting change over time, starting from the modification of the so-called “cognitive patterns”. It is a system of recurring thoughts, beliefs and feelings that make up the “circuit” of mental elements from which a person interprets what is happening to him, and even his own identity as an individual. That is, it is a kind of ideological filter through which we draw conclusions about what is going on in the world and in oneself.
Sometimes the psychological problem arises, among other things, because the cognitive pattern that we have developed is dysfunctional, that is, it leads us to fall again and again into a series of errors. Therefore, in cognitive behavioral therapy, these types of problems are detected and work is done on modifying cognitive patterns, offering other alternatives of ways of interpreting things.
3. Consider the power of habits
Cognitive-behavioral therapy it’s something like a training program, In the sense that it is not a question of making sudden and revolutionary changes in a single session, but that the improvement appears gradually, through several periodic sessions (in most cases, one session per week).
This involves doing practical exercises that go beyond theory, as the achievement of therapy goals does not rely simply on reflection, but on performing a series of mental exercises which in turn , are linked to physical exercises: it is necessary to interact with the environment in certain ways, participate in certain situations, etc.
In this way, it is easier for the person to transform their habits in order to self-train and consolidate the change for the better on a daily basis, without the professional being present.
4. Work through both channels of intervention at the same time
From the cognitive-behavioral model, he understands that the human mind is not something isolated in each person’s head, but that it is linked to daily actions, the way in which it proposes to solve problems. is to act in two ways: that of ideas and beliefs, on the one hand, and that of interaction with the world and with others.
This principle is reflected in the main techniques included in the cognitive-behavioral paradigm, which are explained below.
1. Exposure techniques
Exposure techniques are most commonly used in cases of phobias, anxiety disorders or similar disorders, and consist of expose and confront the person to their source of fear and anxiety.
As anxiety decreases, the person learns to deal with their emotions, while reconfiguring their cognitive and intellectual processes, thus overcoming their fears.
2 Systematic desensitization
Systematic desensitization is another of the classic techniques of the cognitive-behavioral approach and also consists in exposing the person to his stimulus generating anxiety or fear but having previously incorporated and formed a series of adaptive response mechanisms that they act in the opposite direction, inducing a state of relaxation.
Likewise, and through the application of positive behaviors towards the stimulus, the anxiety gradually decreases and eventually disappears, causing a change at the cognitive and emotional level in the patient.
3. Up arrow technique
It is one of the techniques found in most cognitive behavioral therapy interventions and consists of modify the patient’s thought patterns, identify their maladaptive patterns and the influence they have on their daily life.
The mechanism used in this technique is based on asking a series of questions about the person’s thoughts, emotions or beliefs at the moment, and analyzing the usefulness and influence of each of them in his reason for consultation.
This technique aims at cognitive restructuring, that is to say that the person manages to eliminate the negative or inappropriate thoughts that constitute the source of his discomfort.
4. Modeling technique
The modeling technique consists of that the patient observes the behavior, activity or interaction that he wishes to learn in another person and takes his role model as an example of action.
This technique can be applied live, dramatized or performed using virtual reality techniques.
5. Stress inoculation
Stress inoculation consists of help the patient understand how this can affect stress and subsequently providing them with a range of cognitive and behavioral tools and strategies to deal with stressful situations and get used to what scares them.
The goal of this technique is for the person to train each of the tools offered by the therapist and learn to overcome stressful situations without getting stuck.
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- Field, TA; Beeson, ET; Jones, LK (2015). The New ABCs: A Practitioner’s Guide to Neuroscience-Informed Cognitive-Behavior Therapy, Journal of Mental Health Counseling, 37 (3): pp. 206-220.
- Gratzer, D. and Khalid-Khan, F. (2016). Cognitive-behavioral therapy in the treatment of psychiatric illnesses. CMAJ, 188 (4): pages 263-272.
- Olivares, J. & I Méndez, FX (2008). Behavior modification techniques. Madrid: New library.
- Seligman, LD and Ollendick, TH (2011). Cognitive-behavioral therapy for anxiety disorders in young people. Psychiatric clinics for children and adolescents in North America. 20 (2): pages 217 to 38.