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Common myths about CBT


The Therapeutic Relationship is unimportant to the outcome of therapy
The therapeutic relationship is of vital importance to the process and outcome of therapy. If the patient does not trust the therapist, he or she is unlikely to reveal what their problems are. The therapist-patient relationship is collaborative, in which they work together on an acknowledged problem. The therapist may also use this relationship to work directly on unhelpful thoughts, beliefs and misconceptions which commonly occur in the patient’s day to day interactions.


CBT is not interested in the past

Whilst commonly the therapist works in the ‘here & now’, addressing current unhelpful thoughts and beliefs, understanding the history of the problem’s development may also throw up some very useful points for therapeutic intervention, addressing how the past may be affecting the present, whether this be memories, unhelpful behaviours, unhelpful beliefs or problems with self image or esteem would be a significant feature of the therapeutic process.


Cognitive Behavioural Therapists don’t bother with emotions or feelings

This one is a bit of a poser, if the therapists weren’t bothered with or about emotions and feelings then why would we provide therapy in the first place? Very often it is the mood and/or feelings which provide the target for therapy and the lever with which to challenge unhelpful thought, beliefs and/or misinterpretations.


Cognitive therapy is a quick fix

It is true that cognitive therapy tends to be “time limited”, however this tends to be more due to the squeeze on limited resources. It is true that for some people therapy takes place over a relatively short time but this is due to patients completing ‘homework’, practicing and consolidating work undertaken in therapy, between sessions. Others may find that the complexity of the problem and other factors (social circumstances, personality, history of the problem, etc) can extend the length of time spent in therapy.


CBT is simple and easily done

For some problems the techniques used may be fairly straight forward and easily implemented. However, this does not mean CBT is either easy or can be applied competently by anybody. There are a vast range of techniques which may or may not be utilised depending upon the complexity of the problem treated. The complexity of the problem dictates the competence required from the therapist.


Cognitive Behavioural Therapists are only interested in listing thoughts, showing how patients are wrong and how they should think rationally

This is a common misconception by those unfamiliar with CBT and some inexperienced practitioners. Although CB Therapists do encourage monitoring & writing down thoughts, this is to assist in helping patients gain insight into their styles of thought, which allows reflection and provides the opportunity for experimentation with differing ideas and behaviours and the effects of these in their daily interactions.