4 Myths about CBT

MYTH 1:  The ultimate goal of CBT is to shift negative thoughts to positive ones.

CBT does focus on challenging negative thinking patterns and for this reason many people believe  clients are simply invited to think positively about their problems. CBT actually encourages people to take a realistic look at their lives and explore more flexible, helpful ways of thinking. If a client has negative thoughts about a situation, they may well be right. Their job may  be very difficult or they may have a challenging health condition. CBT helps people identify, accept and embrace both pleasant and unpleasant thoughts and feelings and try to find alternative, more helpful ways of coping with life’s demands.

MYTH 2: CBT isn’t interested in deeper causes. It’s all “surface stuff.”

A common misconception about CBT is that it isn’t interested in deeper rooted problems. However, while many clients will improve by working solely with how they think about current events, CBT therapists will often work directly with client’s long term negative beliefs (rather than just their present negative automatic thoughts) and part of this inevitably involves childhood historical events in order to understand where these beliefs have come form. 

MYTH 3: CBT is a rigid, mechanical approach designed to simply retrain the brain.

While CBT has many tools in it’s tool box, people’s individuality is not ignored. In addition to the mainstream version of CBT originally developed by Ellis &Beck in the 1950′ and 60’s, CBT now includes a range of approaches developed to treat different types of psychological, emotional and behavioural problems. Some of these include:

  • Acceptance and Commitment Therapy.
  • Compassion Focused Therapy
  • Dialectical Behaviour Therapy
  • Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy
  • Schema Therapy

MYTH 4: CBT is ‘quick in, quick out’.

While some problems may be treated in as few as 6 sessions, CBT is not particularly ‘quick in quick out’. The outcome research for CBT typically assumes 12 to 15 sessions on a weekly of fortnightly basis. This can represent the better part of a years work and is typically longer than many forms of counselling.  Therefore, CBT is more accurately described as a medium term psychotherapeutic modality.

In summary CBT teaches clients how to convert personal insight into tangible improvements in dealing with distress, solving problems, improving relationships and changing behaviour. It is orientated to helping people to manage problems and live a more meaningful and fulfilling life.



By Judging Others Are You Really Judging Yourself?

We all have our own set of values and while this is very positive, there’s also a risk we can become over-enthusiastic and expect others to behave a certain way. However, is there a single way to live life or view the world? Could you be limiting your personal growth and enjoyment when you expect others to live according to your rules?


Equally, if you’re hard on others, the chances are you’re also hard on yourself and your self-esteem and happiness suffer.

Life is simply more enjoyable when we accept others and ourselves.

Use these strategies to remove your expectations and be less critical:

  1. Become aware of critical thoughts both towards yourself and about others. We can’t help these thoughts – our minds automatically produce them. However, if we are aware of them, we can evaluate if these thoughts are fair. If they aren’t fair this is your cue to change your thought process. Monitor your thoughts and remind yourself to be more reasonable with yourself and more open-minded with others.
  2.  Pause for five seconds and take a deep breath. In most cases you’re safe until you voice the thought. When you find yourself feeling judgemental, stop and take a short pause. You’ll interrupt your thought pattern and give yourself a chance to think before you say something you might regret.
  3. Try and understand that all of us, including yourself, are doing the best we can. That’s not to say that everyone is living up to their potential. But everyone has their own unique past, tragedies, upbringing, health issues, and way of viewing the world. Faced with the same experiences, you can’t be certain you could do any better.
  4. Try and avoid stereotyping. There are CEOs with tattoos and wonderful parents that may work in the sex industry. Do you really believe you can judge someone based on a couple of characteristics or facts?
  5. Carefully consider whether the characteristic you complain about in someone else is something you could be working on yourself. For example, do you find yourself criticising someone who exemplifies confidence and strength as haughty or arrogant? Is this because actually you wish you were more self-assured and assertive? Ask yourself is this something I could work on myself?
  6. The past doesn’t have to equal the future. We all make mistakes. Understand that we can learn from our errors. It’s not fair to judge yourself by your greatest mistake or to judge others by theirs. Do our greatest mistakes really provide an accurate view?
  7. Try and let go of your expectations of others. If you expect others to live by the same rules you will set yourself up for disappointment. 
  8. If you have a habit of buying in to your critical thoughts about yourself and others, you’ll get more out of life if you can reverse this tendency. This is a great opportunity to be patient and understanding with yourself. The people that annoy us can often teach us a lot about ourselves. 
  9. Finally, make an effort to learn more about someone you don’t like and you might find that your first impression was incorrect.