Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

CBT is a blend of two types of psychology which work especially well in combination for some psychological issues. Cognition means “thinking,” and simply refers to the habitual ways in which we interpret our lives and relationships with other people. Examples of “cognition” are negative thinking and positive thinking. Behaviour refers to any actions that you take, that is, behaviour is “what you do, as opposed to what you think.” As it happens, these two types of therapy complement each other very well.

Cognitive therapy works by helping you become more aware of your thinking patterns, thus giving you more control over your thoughts. More control means that you can choose to change some of your beliefs and opinions if those outlooks are no longer helpful to you. Cognitive therapy was pioneered by Dr. Aaron Beck and more information about Beck’s work can be found here.

Behavioural therapy is, on the surface, quite different. Behaviourists say that we should forget about our thinking and focus on what we do. After all, what we do is what shapes our lives. Behavioural change is brought about by systematically shaping behaviour through rewards and incentives. You can modify your own behaviour in this way. B.F. Skinner popularised Behavioural modification in the USA and many behavioural techniques (such as star charts) are used in primary schools in Ireland today. On a lighter note, this YouTube clip demonstrates how behaviour can be modified in a fairly simple way: