Psychotherapy — What does CBT involve?
Stage 2: Understanding your thoughts

In the cognitive part of CBT, you learn to understand and control your own thought processes. This is Stage 2.

Sometimes the way you think now is the result of how you learned to think in the past. So in this stage of CBT, your therapist might spend some time with you understanding events in your past. CBT does not focus on the past. The only reason to understand your past is when it helps you to understand your present thought processes. In CBT jargon, thought processes in your past that influence your present thinking are sometimes called schemas.

Sometimes you think about things in a certain way because it seems the only reasonable way. Your therapist might explore whether the ways that you think about things really are reasonable. For example, you might discuss the evidence together. Or you might try some experiments to find the most reasonable way to think about things.

Between therapy sessions, you usually perform activities that are related to this work. For example, you might keep records of your thoughts each day.

What to expect from Stage 2

Stage 2 is often not very clear cut. You cannot easily tell when it begins and ends. Instead, you spend some time understanding your thought processes in each of your therapy sessions.

By the time you have had a few sessions of CBT, you should be starting to understand your own thought processes. You should be starting to see how your thought processes are related to the symptoms that you are trying to address. And you should be starting to find ways to take control of your thoughts, so that you can take control of your symptoms.

This work continues throughout your CBT treatment.

The next stage is: Stage 3: Working with behaviour