What is Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT)?

The ASD mind

Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) is a goal-oriented counselling system. It is based on the concept that thoughts, feelings, and behaviours are interrelated, and that you can effect great personal change if you change one of these three areas. Themes regarding the way a person responds to events or perceives events in his or her life are referred to as schema. Understanding schemas can lead to insight and personal change. Cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) is based on the work of Aaron Beck and Albert Ellis.

Within the framework of CBT, problems are viewed as maladaptive or “unhelpful” patterns of thought, feeling, or behaviour. The counsellor and client work collaboratively to explore alternative ways of thinking, feeling, and acting, and experiment with different strategies to find the best fit for the client. Homework is often suggested, with the intention to explore the effectiveness of different strategies before the next session. Goal setting is part of the counselling process, with frequent reviews of progress. These strategies become life tools for the client to utilize on many different aspects of his or her life, providing the client with a larger set of tools to cope with the unpleasant things that life can throw at them. In this sense CBT expands a person’s ability to cope and is not limited to the specific issues that are brought into the counselling room.

CBT can be effectively used with couples and families as well as individuals. It has been shown to be effective with all ages and abilities, from children as young as seven years old to elderly persons. Cognitive behaviour therapy has been
demonstrated to be effective with people with a wide range of abilities and intellect. Cognitive behaviour therapy is well suited for people with developmental disabilities and autism spectrum disorders, as it tends to be concrete, change is measurable, and it does not rely on symbolic interpretation, which can be troublesome when dealing with individuals with autistic-like thinking patterns.

Cognitive behaviour therapy often enhances the improvement of mental illness or distress which is currently treated with medication. In fact, it is not uncommon for people being treated with medication to find greater benefit to combine cognitive behaviour therapy with the medication regime.

Suggested reading: Paxton, K. & Estay, I. (2007). Counselling people on the autism
spectrum: A practical manual. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

© Copyright - Theme by Pexeto