CBT – what happens in a session with a psychologist?
CBT is a highly valuable tool for helping people change their self-limiting language which influences subsequent feelings and behaviour. But how exactly does CBT work?
CBT psychologists develop a relationship of trust with their client and carefully listen to the language they use. Self-defeating or negative language is noted, together with examples of where the individual holds unsubstantiated beliefs about the world which limit their ability to constructively move forward. For example, imagine a person hearing of an increase in theft in their city. How the person responds to hearing their beliefs about others and how their thoughts automatically follow their appraisal of situations is highlighted. The individual might say ‘The world is a very unsafe place; I should avoid talking to my neightbours as bad things always happen to me!‘? This language indicates their beliefs that the world is a bad place and bad things happen to them (despite this news event being very generalised). Their language is self-perpetuating and the use of the word ‘always’ reinforces their existing beliefs about how the world is for the individual – and how it will continue to be since they will probably interpret any contradictions to the unsafe worldview as not standard. Their language will probably have a tendency to extend beyond this to other examples of others being untrustworthy.
Many individuals are unaware of how their language patterns develop and are kept in place by associated thought patterns and feelings. CBT counselling specifically helps you identify and challenge typical language patterns, introduce new techniques for changing them and then expereincing and reflecting on associated changes in feelings and wellbeing. With a different set of responses, the individual is able to more constructively encounter information and and seek out more details to judge events, case by case, rather than consistently experiencing the world negatively and therefore attracting negative expereinces and reactions from others.
In my work with clients, I use CBT as a valuable framework to identify thought patterns and ways in which indivdiuals use language to avoid asking the very important questions and what they might be avoiding through their behaviour.