Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)

Leading Light

I am not going to attempt to do justice to the ‘big’ models such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and how they inform the work I do. Part of your ‘safe experimenting’, may be to research these areas for yourself, and in your own way.

That said, I am making mention of some key models throughout the web site to encourage your own experimental designs, and to foster your curiosity.

A long and winding road

CBT has had a long and chequered history, emerging in the 21st century as something of a ‘flavour of the year’, particularly in those institutions needing to administer mass programmes to help people under stress, e.g. The National Health Service (NHS) here in the UK.

Initially having no truck with our ‘inner world’, modern CBT is more willing to address the ‘black box’ that is our inner experience. It still tends to be ‘manualised’ as training programmes have sought to create an identifiable minimum standard of service.  That might be important when those administering CBT programmes are drawn from many walks of life – some well trained in psychology and other with limited psychological education.

Can Manuals be used with some success?

It is not difficult to criticise the ‘manualised’ approach (mini-experiment: take a moment to consider how you would create your own MY-NUAL).  Plenty of practitioners have moved away from it, and I’d like to think this process will continue.

Where CBT does help is in:

  • identifying how and what to record about our own actions, thoughts and feelings.
  • structuring therapy and ‘homework’ exercises to generate evidence to encourage us to change.
  • creating a positive attitude to collecting and recording evidence so that change appears to be manageable, and not as some daunting and discouraging obstacle.
  • seeking out the resources we need to sustain the change process.
  • understand the change process at a knowledge level and helping us see beyond ‘knowledge’ into ‘action’.

… and, above all else, CBT challenges the ways we think about things. Thoughts and actions are intimately connected.

CBT more able to use the Body Scan these days!

In my view, the key notion is that modern CBT has moved beyond our thoughts and now explores how those thoughts are shaped by our feelings and sensations. CBT is now sees feelings less as an ‘inconvenience’, and more as a central shaper of our behaviour. This process has been helped by research that shows all our decisions have an emotion component.

Emotions impact on our beliefs and it is easy to be unaware of the way in which our beliefs shape our actions.

There are many other ways in which CBT might help you in the design and implementation of safe experiments.  The originator of aspects of CBT, Aaron Beck, pictured above, set up his own Institute and on its web page you will find a CBT approach to recording and acting on small victories and small defeats:

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Other lines to consider


What is a nudge

Models informing therapy

Welcome to Find Your Nudge

How to give yourself a nudge