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How is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy used to treat depression? (Counselling Articles)

Depression and the effects it can have on our ability to live our daily lives can be disabling. I encourage my clients that seek counselling for depression to better understand how their thought processes directly impact their depression as one of the first steps in working together.

One method for treating depression involves Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). CBT is based on the idea that clients can directly influence their symptoms when they learn how to think differently and, as a result, behave differently.

CBT helps clients to change the way they talk to themselves (using the inner voice inside their heads).

Unlike external situations that happen outside of our control, we are all capable of learning to choose our thoughts. By changing the way we think, we can learn to feel and act differently, even when the situation or event we are responding to does not change.

For example:

  1. An event happens… You are driving your car and are cut off by a passing vehicle.
  2. You have an automatic, irrational thought… That b@#$%$# did that to irritate me.
  3. You react… You speed up and attempt to pass the offending driver.
  4. There are consequences… Your anger surges, your heart races, and you are unable to calm yourself.

With CBT, clients learn to rationally question their automatic, irrational thoughts in response to events to experience different outcomes.  I work with my clients to help them learn to:

  1. Catch their automatic, irrational thoughts.
  2. Challenge the validity of these thoughts.
  3. Choose their thoughts, and thus their responses, consciously.

1. By catching the thought… That guy cut me off on purpose.

2. Challenging the thought… I don’t know whether that person did that on purpose, but they don’t know me so why would I take their actions personally?

3. We can choose our response… Rather than being angry, I will consciously choose to leave a safe distance between my car and the other driver’s car, and I will consciously recognize that the other driver’s actions had nothing to do with me.

Dr. Patricia Turner, Registered Psychologist, Calgary, Alberta

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