Myths vs Facts around Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)

What is CBT

Myth – CBT is too mechanical

Fact – While it’s true that CBT has many tools in its toolbox to help people move forward, it is far from mechanical.  Cognitive behavioural therapy, like all effective therapies, emphasises the importance of a trusting, honest therapeutic relationship as the essential foundation.

Furthermore, a good CBT therapist will know exactly when and how to use the specific methods in the CBT toolbox. Which unique each individual person and is far more ‘organic’ than ‘mechanical’.  In fact, an experienced CBT therapist understands the importance of a ‘good fit’ between the client and therapist and is likely refer someone to a colleague if the fit doesn’t work.       

Myth: CBT only treats the symptoms – not the whole person.

Fact – When done properly, CBT, almost by definition, takes the holistic or ‘whole person’ approach and is not just about symptom reduction.  CBT maintains that the mind and body interact. For example; the way a person experiences his/her life (“I am feeling anxious about going to a party”) has a direct physical impact on their body, such as the release of the stress hormone cortisol. Similarly, the way a person ‘thinks or ‘views’ a particular situation, also influences their behaviour (“I am anxious, so I’m not going to go to the party”) So, while symptom reduction is certainly among its goals, the success of cognitive behavioural therapy comes from treating the whole person.   

Myth: CBT isn’t interested in my past

Fact – CBT therapists are very interested in their client’s history and past experiences. Because it’s our experiences that shape and influence who we are in the present. However, unlike traditional psychotherapy, which places great emphasis on the past. CBT takes a good look at the past to establish where a particular problem might have begun but doesn’t dwell on it. Cognitive behavioural therapy views the past as a point of interest but focusses more on moving a client forward.

A good CBT therapist will work to understand the history and experiences of the person they are working with in order to understand if any factors might still be influencing the present.  

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