Cognitive Behavioural Therapy Practiced By a Culturally Competent Toronto Psychotherapist
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), also known as cognitive therapy, is a form of therapy that has measurable goals so that its positive effects can be determined thus making it different from other forms of therapy. CBT, or Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, is particularly effective in treating depression and anxiety as well as addictions and substance abuse. The Toronto Psychotherapist should be adept at understanding how cultural attitudes influence or determine the emotional states of their clients. If you are looking for a Toronto Psychotherapist using CBT it is important you find out how much he or she knows about your culture. Any Toronto Psychotherapist or Social Worker holding a MSW degree has special training in anti- oppressive and culturally sensitive and relative counselling techniques.
The term “cognitive” refers to our unique thought processes, and “behavioural” refers to the our actions. In cognitive behavioural therapy, your therapist will be most interested in your patterns of thinking and behaving as they are reinforced by the environment. A cognitive behavioural therapist would be interested in looking out for “maladaptive behaviours” that impact your life negatively. For instance, if you are feeling depressed, you might retreat from social activities and become isolated. As you might imagine, the isolation – and absence of activities that you normally enjoy – can further contribute to your depression.
Behavioural patterns in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy become the subject of behavioural interventions. For instance, in the case mentioned above, a depressed person might be encouraged by their Psychotherapist to engage in social activities in order to avoid isolation – even if they may not be motivated to do so. This may help the person from slinking further into depression.
Cognitive behavioural therapy aims to understand the patterns of thinking associated with patterns of action and of emotional states. In the case of anxiety or self-esteem, CBT targets the thoughts that are triggered by situations experienced as negative by the client. For instance, suppose someone enters a busy lunch room and everyone stops talking for an instant. Immediately the person may draw the conclusion that they were being talked about or that people do not like them. Often, we take our initial impressions of a situation and form emotional reactions and beliefs without challenging the beliefs or weighing the evidence in favour or against. In Cognitive Behavioural Therapy we call these thoughts “automatic thoughts“. It is often revealed in cognitive therapy the tendencies of a given individual to make assumptions about certain things and to rate high on the scale of emotional reaction to these things. It is important for a Toronto Psychotherapist to consider the culture of the person and how it influences these assumptions.
So the first step in understanding the thoughts that lead to negative emotions in CBT is to ascertain the situations that lead to negative emotions for the client and to identify the thoughts and convictions about the reality of the situation. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy then goes further following a progression in a chain of reasoning where the next step is to identify what are called cognitive distortions involved in the cognitive appraisal of the situation. Cognitive distortions are irrational beliefs that people tend to engage in and there are about ten very common ones that tend to prove to be sufficient to examine in the process. As a Toronto Psychotherapist with experience doing CBT I have found that the distortions seem to apply cross culturally. Regarding the case of our fellow in the lunch room, CBT illustrates he may have been “mind reading“. Believing he could know the thoughts of all the people in the lunch room based on their reactions is illogical and a cognitive distortion. So this fellow may have felt frightened and/or humiliated in this situation after having the automatic thought that they think there is something wrong with him and believing this 100%.
CBT aims to balance the thoughts and emotions that result from a situation that is perceived to be negative by having the client examine and weigh the evidence that their thoughts and subsequent emotions are true or not true. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy or the CBT approach in general would have the fellow in the lunch room think of alternate explanations for the automatic thoughts such as the people may have stopped talking because they were expecting an authority figure to walk through the door and so they were reacting to this expectation rather than to this fellow or any personal qualities he may have. The Toronto Psychotherapist being more aware of cultural influences should be aware of the difference in meaning ascribed to silence by different cultures. CBT exposes several other alternate explanations that are more or at least equally possible. This means that the fellow may not be the focus of attention and of judgement after all. After weighing the evidence to support or refute the automatic thoughts through exercises provided by the CBT Therapist and by also weighing the evidence that supports any alternate explanations this fellow can be freed from negative emotions.
If you ask any Toronto Psychotherapist using CBT how they do their work using the Cognitive Behavioural method you will find that the majority of them employ similar techniques. The difference between one Toronto Psychotherapist and another Therapist in Toronto employing CBT lies in how they complement the approach with other models of therapy. It is important for the Toronto Psychotherapist to use culturally sensitive approaches to CBT. A Toronto Psychotherapist who is not culturally competent can in fact do harm by failing to recognize how the client’s unique culture is influencing or even determining their thoughts or cognitive appraisals of a situation. A Toronto Psychotherist must understand how the culture and mores of a number of different ethnicities influence thoughts, behaviours and emotions.