Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is our primary treatment modality at Behavioural Health Care. CBT is a short-term, focused psychological treatment for a wide range of psychological problems. The focus of CBT treatment is on both your thinking (“cognitions”) and behavior. The assumption of CBT is that changes in your thinking and behaviour will lead to changes in your feelings. CBT is primarily interested in your current life circumstances, not your past.
In CBT sessions our clients develop a treatment plan with realistic, manageable goals. Our semi-structured sessions will include a review of homework assignments and experiments. Clients will learn self-management coping strategies that help with their specific problems and also help to prevent relapse. Clients learn to become their own coach for the problems that they bring. Generally, research outcome studies suggest 12 – 24 hours of treatment for serious psychological problems that cause significant distress, and impair social and work functioning.
CBT has a growing evidence base of several hundred research studies for such problems as depression, anxiety, chronic pain, eating problems, phobias (fears), trauma, anger, relationship conflict and substance-abuse/dependence. Accordingly, CBT is recommended as an evidence-based psychological treatment by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (N.I.C.E.). You can learn more about CBT through Anxiety BC and the BC Ministry of Health
CBT and Beyond
In recent years, CBT has been expanded by “Third Wave” therapies that seek to improve outcomes for specific conditions by focusing on certain therapeutic treatment components. These enhancements expand the cognitive and/or the behavioural components of CBT.
For example, Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) introduces mindfulness and acceptance-based strategies that can be helpful for trauma, anxiety and anxious depression.
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) encourages greater flexibility in approaching problems, deciding when to accept what cannot be changed and committing to change where realistic using change strategies based on personal values. ACT is also interested in the words that we use to define problems and how such words might stifle creative change. ACT began as an anxiety treatment by its founding psychologist, Dr. Steven Hayes, but has expanded its focus to depression and other psychological conditions.
Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) uses acceptance-based strategies and behavioural change solutions in a sequenced set of skills for clients who are highly distressed. A manual is used, now in its second edition, that is written by the DBT pioneer psychologist, Dr. Marsha Linehan – a master clinician.
Behavioural Activation Therapy (BAT) is an approach to depression that focuses on the behavioural component of CBT exclusively. It offers a simple and fast-acting method of treating depression that leads to better mood and change in depressive thoughts via small, specific, personalized behavioural changes. These changes are not overwhelming: they do not require a lot of reading, new learning or historical analysis.
Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing (EMDR) is a newer, empirically-supported treatment for trauma. EMDR uses bilateral movements or tapping and simple cognitive techniques to remove the fear/terror associated with traumatic memories. This approach follows a specific treatment protocol that tends to be fast and effective.
Psychologists at BHC may integrate one or more of these approaches into treatment to assist clients to move forward and help solve their problems.