A Research Paper On Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

A person’s emotions and thoughts direct how they behave. This belief serves as the foundation of Cognitive Behavioural Theory (CBT). Increasingly high rates of mental health disorders are negatively affecting the quality of life for many people. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy has been seen to help these individuals. To gain a greater understanding of what this psychotherapy treatment entails, an introduction to the approach will be provided. A description of the two techniques used in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy will be offered. Finally, consideration will be made as to whether the approaches described would be suitable in the practice of Child and Youth Care Work.

If thoughts and emotions affect how a person behaves, then it can be argued that those persons who possess a positive attitude are individuals with higher self-esteem, more willing to face challenges and more inclined to take risks (Shebib, 2020, 207). Negative thinking, on the other hand, can cause people to experience stress, emotional problems and behave in ways that prevent them from achieving their goals, accomplishing tasks and coping with what they see as problems. Those persons have an 'internal dialogue' or negative thinking that causes them to believe, evaluate and interpret what goes on around them and what they think and feel to a level that hinders or even sabotages their quality of life (Gabor and Ing, 2006).

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy focuses on changing the negative, unhelpful thought processes of individuals. Its goal is to help people recognize and alter how they make sense of what they are experiencing. In this way, they learn how to effectively cope with thoughts and feelings to allow them to behave more productively. It was suggested by psychologist Aaron Beck that emotions and behaviours are not, in fact, affected by the experience or what is occurring, but rather the individual's interpretation of the situation. By changing one's perspective, becoming aware of negative or flawed thinking, the response can be modified to become more favourable and appropriate.

The task of changing the way one thinks, adopting a more confident, clear outlook seems simple enough. However, in most cases, individuals are unaware that they hold the very beliefs, referred to as 'cognitive distortions,' that in fact inaccurately colour their thoughts and cause them to suffer emotionally and respond negatively and ineffectively. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy offers individuals the chance to work collaboratively with a counsellor to recognize their automatic thoughts or triggers, realize that these thoughts are not in fact supported by any conclusive evidence and learn how to develop new ways of thinking and behaving. The therapy grounds itself in the present teaching the individual that, while beliefs and behaviours may have seemed appropriate at a particular time, these are no longer useful, more so are detrimental, and must be replaced with ones that are now helpful.

The long-term goal of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is to offer people a means of effectively coping with whatever challenges or circumstances they face. Ideally, they learn to apply the needed skills to not only the problem that originally brought them to counselling, but to other life challenges that arise in the future. The individual has learned to become more conscious of how they think, feel, react and behave. They have also become more self-assured, trading their former 'negative self-dialogue' and negative behaviours for ones that are more positive and effective (Gabor and Ing, 2006).

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy aims to help people identify, understand and change their negative thoughts through the technique of journaling or thought records. Notations are made of the situation experienced when strong emotions are felt, the automatic feelings considered to accompany the situation and the degree of the emotional reaction. This approach allows individuals to 'self-report,' ideally at the moment, their negative thoughts and cognitive distortions so that they can work with the CBT counsellor to recognize and assess the helpfulness of the recorded beliefs with the goal of developing a new perspective on how to cope with stressful situations. Essentially, the aim of the journal is to help people become more attentive to what they are thinking, question their rationale for believing what they thought and work towards a new way of interpreting the situation so that they will be able to cope with it successfully in the future.

To help people become more successful in coping with stressful situations, the second technique of consideration in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is that of mindfulness, the practice of being attentive to what is happening at the moment as opposed to worrying about what has happened previously or what might happen in the future. The approach is practical in that the person learns to liberate themselves from the negative thoughts that previously plagued them and concentrate on what is presently happening. The skill enables the person to respond positively to their environment and situation and feel more relaxed and in control.

The skills taught through the techniques of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy can definitely be applied within Child and Youth Care practice. One of the fundamental aims of Child and Youth Care work is to equip young people to be able to function comfortably and confidently as themselves in a world that can sometimes seem overwhelming. What Cognitive Behavioural Therapy provides are the tools to manage how one thinks, what one believes and, consequently, how one behaves. Techniques such as journaling or thought records and mindfulness teach young people how to identify and question their own beliefs and, in turn, see that there are other perspectives that are in fact helpful and effective methods of coping with what may be distressing to the point where they are unable to function in their daily routines, suffer mental health problems or abuse substances or alcohol. An empathetic counsellor who has developed a relationship with their client based on trust and respect will be able to ask questions which cause them to consider alternative thought patterns, beliefs and ultimately behaviours.

To be able to help young people who are experiencing problems finding practical and straightforward solutions is the objective of Child and Youth Care Workers. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is an approach that aims to help the individual come to identify their unhealthy thoughts and beliefs, recognize why they are harmful and develop a more appropriate and successful means of coping with what challenges their ability to function. This therapy can be described as one that is short-term yet benefits clients suffering from a variety of disorders with new coping skills that have lifetime benefits.


  • Anxiety Canada. (2019). Self Help – Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy (CBT). Retrieved October 1, 2019, from https://anxietycanada.com/articles/self-help-cognitive-behavioural-therapy-cbt/.
  • Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH). (2010). Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy: An Information Guide. Retrieved October 6, 2019, from https://www.camh.ca/-/media/files/guides-and-publications/cbt-guide-en.pdf?la=en&hash=BDA5FF472AA16E82C6AAE307EBCD3BE50347FBFE
  • Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) Provincial System Support Program (PSSP). (2016, September 7). What is the effectiveness of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) for mental illness and substance use problems? Retrieved September 26, 2019, from https://eenet.ca/sites/default/files/pdfs/CBT evidence brief.pdf.
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  • Fenn, K., & Byrne, M. (2013). The Key Principles of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. Sage Journals InnovAiT Royal College of General Practitioners, 6(9), 579–585. Retrieved from https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/1755738012471029
  • Gabor, P., & Ing, C. (2006). Stop and Think: The Application of Cognitive-behavioral Approaches in Work with Young People. THE INTERNATIONAL CHILD AND YOUTH CARE NETWORK (CYC-Net), 8(91). Retrieved from https://www.cyc-net.org/cyc-online/cycol-0608-gabor.htm
  • Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER). (2019). Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Retrieved October 2, 2019, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/cognitive-behavioral-therapy/about/pac-20384610.
  • Shebib, B. (2020). Choices: Interviewing and Counselling Skills for Canadians (7th ed.). Toronto: Pearson Education Canada
16 December 2021
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