Cognitive therapies have their roots as far back as the 1950s and 1960s. They arose as a response to the then popular psychodynamic school of thought, which focuses on looking back into the past to find your unconscious drives and hidden emotions.
The cognitive approach came along and suggested that we look at the power of our mental processes.
How do you perceive your life? How is the way you interpret your experiences determining the life you are creating?
Cognitive therapies look at the way your thoughts and feelings affect your behaviour, and how you can better cope and problem solve.
Therapies that use the cognitive approach
Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)
Cognitive behavioural therapy helps you see the way your thoughts and feelings are determining your unhelpful behaviours. By changing this cycle, you can solve your problems and improve your moods.
A popular short-term and structured psychotherapy recommended by the NHS, CBT doesn’t tend to look at your past but uses your current situation to work from. It does involve ‘homework’. Your therapist will give you weekly assignments, such as ‘thought diaries’, where you record upsetting thoughts and notice what actions they lead to.
Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) can help with issues such as:
Cognitive analytic therapy looks at the way you relate to others and how they affect your relationships and wellbeing. You then see how you could change any pattern of relating that is not serving you.
Dialectical behaviour therapy helps emotionally sensitive people cope better ,and create a life they feel is meaningful and want to be in.
Proven to be effective even if other therapies weren’t, DBT helps you identify the behaviours that hold you back in life and leave you always feeling upset. It then helps you try new ways of being that can make life smoother, helping you manage emotional upset, set boundaries, and communicate your needs.
Dialectical behaviour therapy is especially helpful for:
borderline personality disorder
substance abuse and addictions
post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR)
EMDR is a treatment that psychotherapists use to help you access and process your memories from traumatic experiences, helping you move on.
It can feel a strange process, having to discuss old memories as a therapist essentially encourages you to also focus on something else, usually moving your eyes or possibly hand tapping or something else.
But it’s been proven very effective. You will find that you feel less distressed, your negative thinking is lessened, and your physical symptoms of stress reduced.
EMDR assists you with:
post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
childhood abuse and sexual abuse
anxiety and depression
Schema therapy helps you identify and change your self-defeating ways of perceiving yourself and others that leave you feeling like your life is stuck on repeat.
Once again a therapy created for those whom other forms of talk therapy couldn’t help, schema therapy does help you look at your childhood to understand why you behave the way you do. But it also uses tools designed help you feel relief from intense emotions, and then shows you practical ways to make better choices.
Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy helps you to accept instead of judge your thoughts and feelings, so that you can more easily learn to change the ones that are not helping you move forward.
It combines cognitive therapy (understanding cognitive dysfunction, negative beliefs, and emotional responses) with mindfulness (a technique from ancient Eastern practices that helps you be in the present moment).
You learn that your thoughts are not facts, and you learn to work with yourself instead of against yourself.
MBCT is useful for issues such as:
Solution focused brief therapy (SFBT)
Solution focused brief therapy is a future-focused therapy, helping you recognise your past successes to gain the confidence and resources to create the future you hope for.
As the title suggests, SFBT is a short-term therapy that doesn’t dwell much on your past issues but really puts the emphasis on moving forward. By helping you see the ways you’ve already managed in life, your therapist helps you uncover the skills and strengths you already have. Together you then work out how you can use those tools to now set goals and move toward a life that you want for yourself.
REBT believes that we are not actually emotionally affected by events and people outside of ourselves, but by our thoughts and feelings about such things, which we have the power to control and change.
Rational emotive behaviour therapy is really the oldest of the cognitive therapies, developed by well-respected psychologist Albert Ellis in the 1950s. REBT teaches you a psychological model of “A-B-C-D-E-F’ to deal with stressful experiences. The idea is that the ‘activating event’ (A) that upset you causes beliefs (B) that then cause you to act in certain ways that lead to negative consequences (C. But you can dispute these beliefs (D), find more effective (E) ways of seeing, and try new feelings (F) and behaviours.
REBT can be useful if you have one or more of the the following issues: