A: CBT is one of the few forms of psychotherapy that is scientifically tested and found to be effective following hundreds of clinical trials for numerous disorders. When compared with other forms of psychotherapy, CBT is usually more focused on the present (rather than the past), is more time-limited,more problem-solving oriented and much of the work aimsto solve current life problems.

Clients learn specific skills that they can use throughout their lives and these techniques involve identifying unhelpful thinking, changing beliefs, improving relationships with others, and changing habits and behaviours.

A: Cognitive therapy is based on the cognitive model: the way we perceive situations influences how we feel emotionally. For example, one person reading this information might think, “Great! This sounds good, it’s just what I’ve been looking for!” and feels hopeful. Another person reading this might think, “Well, this sounds good but I’m not sure I can do it.” This person might feel sad and discouraged. So it’s his or her thoughts about the situation affects their emotions.

When people are in distress, they often do not think clearly and their thoughts are altered in some way. CBT helps people to identify their distressing thoughts and to evaluate how realistic the thoughts are. Then they learn to change their thinking patterns. When they think more realistically, they feel better. The emphasis is consistent withproblem solving and changing behaviour.

A: An important first step is to set goals. Ask yourself, “How would I like to be different by the end of treatment?” Think specifically about changes you’d like to make at work, at home, in your relationships with family, friends, co-workers, and others.

Think about what symptoms you have and which you’d like to address first. Think about other areas that would improve your life: pursuing spiritual/intellectual/cultural interests, increasing exercise, decreasing bad habits, learning new interpersonal skills, improving management skills at work or at home.

With help, you learn to evaluate and refine these goals and help decide which goals you might be able to work at on your own and which ones you might want to work on in sessions.

A: As sessions begins, you maycomplete certain forms to assess your mood. Depression and Anxiety Inventories help with an objective way of assessing your progress. One of the first things is to determine how you’ve been feeling this week, compared to other weeks. This is called a mood check. You suggest what problem you’d like to put on the agenda for the session and give an overview of important events that happened during the previous week.

A link between the previous therapy session and this week’s therapy session is made by asking you what seemed important during the last session, what self-help assignments you were able to do during the week, and whether there is anything about the session that you would like to see changed. Next, you discuss the problem(s)that you put on the agenda and combine problem-solving with assessing the accuracy of your thoughts and beliefs in that situation. You will also learn new skills.

You will discuss how you can make best use of what you’ve learned during the session, to help with the week ahead and you will be asked for feedback: what was helpful about the session, what was not, anything that concerned you, any objections and anything you’d like to see changed. This is a very collaborative form of treatment.

A: The decision about length of treatment is made cooperatively between therapist and client. Often the therapist will have a rough idea, usually after a session or two of how long it might take for you to reach the goals that you set at the first session. Some clientsare in therapy for just a brief time, six to eight sessions.

Other patients who have had long-standing problems may choose to stay in therapy for many months. Initially, patients are seen once a week, unless they are in crisis. As soon as they are feeling better and seem ready to start tapering therapy, patient and therapist might agree to try therapy once every two weeks, then once every three weeks. This more gradual tapering of sessions allows you to practice the skills you’ve learned while still in therapy. Booster sessions are recommended three, six and twelve months after therapy has ended.

A: CBT therapists are both practical and collaborative and can discuss the advantages and disadvantages of medication. Many patients are treated without medication at all. Some disorders, however, respond better to a combination of medication and CBT.

If you are taking medication, or would like to be on medication, you would consult and monitor this with your GP. If you are not on medication and do not want to be on medication, you might assess your progress after four to six weeks.

A: You are be able to supplement your psychotherapy with bibliography, readings books, workbooks, pamphlets, etc.

A second way is to prepare carefully for each session, thinking about what you learned in the previous session and jotting down what you want to discuss in the next session.

A third way to maximize therapy is to make sure that you try to bring the therapy session into your everyday life. A good way of doing this is by taking notes at the end of each session or recording a summary of the session. Ensure that you both leave enough time in the therapy session to discuss what would be helpful for you to do during the week ahead. Try to predict what difficulties you might have in doing these assignments before you leave the session.

A: Many clients notice a change in their symptoms within three to four weeks of therapy if they have been attending sessions and completing the assignments between sessions on a daily basis. They also see the scores on their objective tests begin to drop within several weeks.