May 22, 2024
Survivorship Support

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)?

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a type of therapy that helps you to modify the thought patterns that can lead to certain negative feelings and behaviors. The CBT cycle is thought of as a triangle and includes: 1) your thoughts 2) your feelings and 3) your behaviors.

You may become aware of your emotions or feelings when there is a distressing situation or trigger. Many cancer survivors experience common triggers such as fatigue, pain, and upcoming scans. What CBT teaches is that in the moments between a trigger and a feeling, we have “automatic thoughts.” These thoughts can come up as an internal monologue (“self-talk”) or can be unconscious thoughts and beliefs that you may not be aware of. CBT invites you to slow down and pay attention to the cycle that starts with a situation and includes our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.

The CBT cycle

A cancer diagnosis, treatment, and the adjustment to post-treatment can cause distress for most people and studies have found that CBT is one of the most helpful tools in reducing this distress. CBT can help with managing anxiety; depression; fear of cancer recurrence for example. CBT can also be helpful in managing physical symptoms since we know that these can also have a psychological component and be impacted by our behaviors. Examples include CBT for insomnia; chronic pain; menopausal symptoms.

CBT will typically include help identifying the problem(s); identifying & reshaping negative thought patterns; and learning new behaviors. A number of different techniques or strategies might be used in CBT that are determined based on the issue being tackled.

CBT is well established and has been demonstrated to be effective in managing many different concerns.

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