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Shire Psychology & Counselling
Mainstream cognitive behavioural therapy assumes that changing maladaptive thinking leads to change in affect and behaviour, but recent variants emphasize changes in one's relationship to maladaptive thinking rather than changes in thinking itself. Therapists or computer-based programs use CBT techniques to help individuals challenge their patterns and beliefs and replace "errors in thinking such as overgeneralizing, magnifying negatives, minimizing positives and catastrophizing" with "more realistic and effective thoughts, thus decreasing emotional distress and self-defeating behaviour." These errors in thinking are known as cognitive distortions.
CBT techniques may also be used to help individuals take a more open, mindful, and aware posture toward them so as to diminish their impact. Mainstream CBT helps individuals replace "maladaptive... coping skills, cognitions, emotions and behaviours with more adaptive ones", by challenging an individual's way of thinking and the way that s/he reacts to certain habits or behaviours, but there is still controversy about the degree to which these traditional cognitive elements account for the effects seen with CBT over and above the earlier behavioural elements such as exposure and skills training.
Modern forms of CBT include a number of diverse but related techniques such as exposure therapy, stress inoculation training, cognitive processing therapy, cognitive therapy, relaxation training, dialectical behaviour therapy, and acceptance and commitment therapy. Some practitioners promote a form of mindful cognitive therapy which includes a greater emphasis on self-awareness as part of the therapeutic process.
There are different protocols for delivering cognitive behavioural therapy, with important similarities among them. Use of the term CBT may refer to different interventions, including "self-instructions (e.g. distraction, imagery, motivational self-talk), relaxation and/or biofeedback, development of adaptive coping strategies (e.g. minimizing negative or self-defeating thoughts), changing maladaptive beliefs about pain, and goal setting".
Treatment is sometimes manualized, with brief, direct, and time-limited treatments for individual psychological disorders that are specific technique-driven. CBT is used in both individual and group settings, and the techniques are often adapted for self-help applications. Some clinicians and researchers are cognitively oriented (e.g. cognitive restructuring), while others are more behaviourally oriented (e.g. in vivo exposure therapy). Interventions such as imaginal exposure therapy combine both approaches.