What is the Difference Between Cognitive Therapy vs. Psychotherapy?

When choosing how to treat behavioural or emotional issues, many patients choose psychotherapy or cognitive therapy. It is important to define each of them to make an informed decision. Let's shed some light on psychotherapy and cognitive-behavioral therapy.
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There are a wide variety of treatments for behavioral and emotional problems. So, it can be an overwhelming task to choose the right treatment or therapy. Before picking a treatment plan and therapist, you should have a basic understanding of the differences and similarities between therapeutic approaches. This will give you a sense of which type of therapy would be best for you.

When choosing how to treat behavioural or emotional issues, many patients choose psychotherapy or cognitive therapy. It is important to define each of them to make an informed decision. Let’s shed some light on psychotherapy and cognitive-behavioral therapy.

Understanding Psychotherapy and How It Works

The government of Ontario recently changed the official definition of “psychotherapy”. It now refers to the treatment of thought, mood, behavioural or emotional disorder through a therapeutic relationship. While psychotherapy can include many different types of talk or behavioural efforts, the goal of psychotherapy is always to eliminate or minimize problem issues and symptoms.

It’s possible to treat a whole host of mental problems through psychotherapy. For example, it is often helpful for anxiety disorders, depression, insomnia, social phobia, and addiction. Psychotherapy can also help you cope with losing a loved one or childhood trauma.

Psychotherapy can be very helpful on its own but can also be used with medications and other types of treatments. A good psychotherapist will tailor a treatment program to your specific needs.

While some organizations, like hospitals and employee assistance programs, might choose to offer single-session psychotherapy, more complex problems usually require multiple sessions. These can occur over weeks, months or years, depending on the specific type of therapy and the preferences of the therapist and client. Whatever the case, it is imperative to work closely with your therapist in order to build a quality relationship and determine the specific psychotherapy goals.

Types of Psychotherapy

‘Psychotherapy’ is a general term, like ‘ice cream’. Just as ice cream has many flavours, there are also different types of psychotherapies. Aside from cognitive behavioral therapy, the most common types of psychotherapy include:

  • Dialectical behavior therapy
  • Interpersonal therapy
  • Healthy Mindfulness-based therapy
  • Psychodynamic psychotherapy
  • Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy
  • Supportive psychotherapy

It should be noted that, when it comes to how successful a psychotherapy treatment is, the quality of the relationship between the therapist and patient is actually more important than the specific type of therapeutic treatment used. So the most effective therapy will depend on unique circumstances, as well as personal preference and the specific condition.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) – What is It and How Does It Work?

Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a form of psychotherapy that aims to help patients manage their issues by changing the way they act and think. CBT is effective in treating a great many emotional issues and behavioural problems. For instance, it is beneficial for eating disorders, substance abuse, depression, anxiety, and trauma. Numerous clinical studies over several decades continue to show that CBT can improve the quality of life and mental well being in many patients. Furthermore, research indicates that cognitive therapy is more effective than medications in the long run.

Generally speaking, cognitive behavioral therapy is a short-term treatment that is usually delivered in blocks of 10-16 sessions. However, because CBT changes how you think, benefits can begin to show within just a few sessions. The theory behind CBT says there is a connection between how we think, what we feel, and what we do. When it comes to something like depression, the CBT model would say: Depressing thoughts lead to depressed feelings and isolating or withdrawing behaviors. When you change the thoughts or behaviours to be less depressing than the depressed feelings will also improve.

Types of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive-behavioral therapy can include a number of different treatment methods, such as:

  • Identifying and challenging negative thinking
  • Healthy Mindfulness-based stress reduction
  • Exposure and response prevention

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