CBT uses real life experiments to test out thoughts and beliefs that might be limiting your life.
This includes working with your therapist in the clinic, to write down your thoughts in difficult situations, and to be more aware of what is going through your mind. You will look at how these thoughts could be adding to how you feel. You will then look at what is written down, to see if there could be any biases in your thinking (‘unhelpful thinking styles’ such as jumping to the worst conclusion or seeing situations in ‘black and white’). Then you and the therapist come up with other ways at looking at the situation and see if this changes how you feel. You will then practice how to evaluate your thoughts yourself outside of sessions. This is the ‘Cognitive’ part of CBT.
The ‘Behavioural’ part means trying doing something differently, to test out a belief. For example, if you are not feeling confident and tend to walk looking at your shoes, thinking that people are looking at you and judging you, what would happen if you held you head high and looked around you? Do people look at you and judge you? Would you feel more or less confident? We don’t know the answer, but we can test it out and see what happens in a safe way. Sometimes you and the therapist will both try these experiments, or the therapist may help gather a survey of other people’s opinions. These experiments take courage, but you and the therapist will plan them carefully together first. You might be rating how anxious you feel before and after. By doing something different, straight away you are changing your life and on your way to solving a problem.