Spotting Behavioural Patterns and CBT

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is a type of psychotherapy that looks at different aspects of your personality such as how you think about yourself, the world and other people and how your actions can affect your feelings and thoughts.

In understanding the relationship between what we’re feeling and what we’re doing, CBT can help us make changes in the way we think; hence “Cognitive” and the way we act; hence “Behaviour”.  Recently revered as the most respected of therapies by the NHS, due to its tangible results, CBT mostly focuses on looking for ways to improve your mental wellbeing in the present, without excavating the past too much.

For this reason, CBT can be really effective in counselling people who suffer from repetitive behaviours such as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, eating disorders, panic attacks, phobias and anger management. Underpinning CBT is the notion that it’s not the event which causes our emotions, but how we interpret the event. Therefore if we can retrain our thought processes, we can reduce our reactions to certain events.


Libby Seery Of Renaissance Life Therapies explains:

It’s always struck me as interesting how two people can walk down the same street and observe the same things, but interpret them entirely differently. For example, a person with OCD may notice a crack in the pavement and feel the need to walk around the crack, sometimes repeatedly.  If they accidentally step on a crack, they may be overwrought with feelings of panic and loss of control. Another person could be looking up and simply not notice the cracks in the pavement at all but feel that people are looking at them in an unusual manner due to anxiety issues. With CBT for anxiety, these interpretations of events can be changed.

Another example occur when a person suffering with depression wakes up feeling negative about the day ahead of them. Self deprecating thoughts such as “I’ll only mess up again”, or “What’s the point?” can control feelings, which then lead to behaviours. Staying in bed, pulling the covers up higher or avoiding things are responses which are likely to feed negative thoughts. This exacerbates the feelings of depression, and results in convincing them to stay where they are.  These self perpetuating thoughts are often referred to as a vicious cycle; continuing to think and act the same way will help maintain our depression or anxiety. CBT for depression can change these thought patterns.

CBT is an effective form of learning to break these vicious cycles of negative thinking, feelings and behaviour. We encourage you to break the cycle down, so you can see what your patterns are in order to change them – and therefore change how you feel.

CBT aims to provide you with coping strategies so effectively you can “do it yourself”, and manage your own ways to tackle behaviours.  CBT is thought of as guided self-help and by following a series of steps, you can successfully work towards reversing the patterns of behaviour.

This begins with identifying a negative action and then recalling where you were, who you were with and what you were feeling that led to that physical manifestation of behaviour. Once you have identified what ‘triggered’ the behaviour, you can begin to devise coping strategies when those same feelings arise within you. The classic counting to ten before acting on an emotion is just one example of how CBT can help you.

More about CBT