Frequently Asked Questions For People Dreaming Of Offering CBT Counseling

I had always known that I was different from the other kids I played with at the park. While they had their hair running wild and free, mine was kept hidden in a hijab. While most of my classmates had delicious snacks and fancy lunchboxes, I always had an apple in a plain tin box. It did not help that I noticed some parents not wanting to let me play with their kids, although no one would say why. I initially thought it was because of my family’s lack of excess money. When I asked my parents about it, they were hesitant to tell me that it was more because of where we were from.

“I was born here, right?” I asked them innocently.

“Yes, you are, honey,” Dad assured me. “But your mother and I came here from Iraq to seek asylum when you were still not born. It’s only a few years ago that we became citizens of the United States.”

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“So, why would people treat us differently because of that?”

“We don’t know, honey,” Mom said, shaking her head slowly. “Perhaps they don’t understand our circumstances.”

Instead of getting angry at everyone and becoming a rebellious kid, I knew early on that I had to work hard to give my parents a better life. They had a rough life before coming to the US; they suffered a little more due to some people refusing to provide them with jobs they were meant to have. So, I got straight As and one scholarship after another in college to ensure that my parents won’t need to worry about sending me to school. It was especially necessary since I wanted to become a cognitive-behavioral psychologist and therapist and was required to get a Master’s and a doctoral degree before practicing.

1. What is CBT in Counselling? 

 Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is one of the most common forms of psychotherapy that aims to help patients improve their thinking or behavior once they face various life challenges. It involves assessing an individual’s thinking pattern, given that many studies reveal that thoughts dictate actions.

For instance, if you think of awful things about someone, you may scrunch up your nose when you see them and even act rudely around them. However, if you give them the benefit of the doubt at the least, you will be open to listening to whatever their explanation may be. With the latter way of thinking, you will understand why someone acts a certain way.

2. What is CBT, and how does it work? 

 CBT is technically a talk therapy that psychologists recommend to people with depression and anxiety. It is a short-term and practical treatment that encourages patients to face their issues head-on and teaches them how to improve their views. This way, they will know how to deal with the situation better if they ever find themselves in it again.

CB therapists have unique treatment plans, but it typically starts with the patient revealing their therapists’ problems. In the goal-creation process, both parties will work on it, not just the latter. That serves as the basis for how many sessions the patient may need. Then, every succeeding session will be similar to a classroom setting, in which the therapist discusses the result of the previous one before moving on to a new topic. There will most likely be homework to be submitted when the patient meets the therapist the next time.

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3. Can you do CBT on yourself? 

 Yes, you can perform CBT on yourself. It is effortless to find CBT books and online guides these days, so it is highly possible, especially when you have already experienced it and know your therapist’s process. However, if you have never done CBT before, it is still best not to self-medicate and see a licensed therapist instead.

4. Which is better, CBT or Counselling? 

 It depends on what issues you have. In case you are dealing with stress, relationship loss, miscarriage, and other sudden problems, counseling may be more suitable for you than CBT. The counselor can listen and empathize with you until you feel better.

However, if you have been diagnosed with depression, anxiety, and other disorders, your psychologist may suggest CBT. Though a CB therapist may also listen and empathize with you, their approach is directed to changing your perception and behavior to help you cope with or reduce your mental illness symptoms.

5. What are the four types of talk therapies? 

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT): It is a suitable treatment for people who have clear mental health goals to achieve. It also challenges the patient to recognize negative thoughts and alter them for the better.
  • Dialectic behavior therapy (DBT): It is a combination of meditation exercise and CBT. The patient may also do it one-on-one with a therapist or as a part of a group.
  • Psychodynamic therapy: In this form of talk therapy, the therapist assesses how your current behavior, thoughts, and emotions have been affected by early experiences. Thus, it may require you to go back down memory lane.
  • Humanistic therapy: This type aims to work on the patient as a whole instead of just focusing on their mental processes. It helps the individual notice their interpersonal and intrapersonal relationships and figure out how to make them better.

6. Can counselors do CBT? 

 Yes, counselors can do CBT, provided that they have acquired certification and training to do so. However, keep in mind that counseling and cognitive-behavioral therapy requires different training and licenses. Because of that, if you only have the qualifications to provide counseling, that’s all you can do. 

If you genuinely want to offer CBT, you should look for programs that will take you a step closer to that goal now.

7. What is an example of cognitive-behavioral therapy? 

 Let’s say that a patient wants to do CBT because they cannot handle work-related anxiety. A CB therapist may initially teach deep-breathing techniques to the patient to calm down even when the therapist is not with them. Then, the patient may learn some self-affirmation chants, such as, “I can do this,” “I am in a safe place,” and “I am just repeating what I have already done in the past.” Therapists may also help the patient find a useful distracting tool, like an online game, a fidget spinner, etc.

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8. How long does it take for cognitive behavioral therapy to work? 

 Cognitive-behavioral therapy lasts between 12 to 20 sessions. If you have a minor mental disorder, you may notice that it is already working after a few sessions. However, for severe conditions (e.g., major depression and anxiety), the effect may not be visible until you reach the treatment end.

9. What are the three main goals in cognitive therapy? 

Cognitive therapy aims to do the following:

  • To provide mental relief by stabilizing symptoms and solving issues.
  • To teach various coping mechanisms to patients.
  • To alter the patient’s way of thinking for good to keep them from relapsing.

10. What are the CBT skills? 

 Before a mental health professional can perform cognitive-behavioral therapy, they need to develop a few skills, including:

  • Having extensive knowledge regarding the treatment
  • Creating programs that will cover all the patient’s issues
  • Discussing the problems, examples, and possible treatments for the patients
  • Showing nonjudgmental, assertive, and collaborative traits
  • Building a sense of connection with patients quickly

11. How do you set goals in CBT? 

  • Goal Identification: The first step is to determine what goals you want to achieve in CBT. For instance, you wish to stop exploding in anger immediately, be able to sleep without worries, walk in the middle of a crowd without hyperventilating, etc.
  • Starting Point Identification: This is where the patient lets the therapist know how far the former has achieved the said goals. The patient should practice honesty concerning the matter because the therapist needs this information to assess how long the treatment should be and what techniques may work.
  • Goal Breakdown: The therapist and the patient’s initial goals initially agree on the need to be broken down into smaller goals and achieved chronologically. In doing so, you may be able to predict the likely hindrances to the CBT success.

Only when you complete the three steps above that the therapy can begin. 

12. What is the focus of cognitive-behavioral therapy? 

 Cognitive-behavioral therapy’s primary focus is to help individuals alter the negative thoughts that may fill their heads whenever they are in a specific situation. Such thoughts often prevent their mental health from improving.

13. Why is CBT so popular? 

 CBT started gaining popularity in the 1990s as it had been used not only for treating mood and anxiety disorders but also for dealing with chronic physical illnesses. One of the possible reasons why it remains popular up to this date is that the process is easy to understand for everyone. After all, cognition genuinely causes people to behave in a certain way. If you modify the patient’s thinking process, their behavior will most likely change, too.

14. What is CBT for anxiety? 

  Exposure therapy is the most common form of cognitive-behavioral therapy for anxiety. The reason is that this mental disorder is not like depression or any illness that can be treated by merely talking to the patient. The therapist will need to expose the patient to their fears in a safe and structured manner until they learn how to manage the symptoms.

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Final Thoughts

Last 2014, I finally received my license to practice CBT in three different states. At that point, the stigma and prejudice that my parents and I experienced in the past were already gone. All that people saw was an elderly couple with a successful daughter, which was how it’s supposed to be.