In Australia, 1 in 6 women experiences depression, while 1 in 7 women has an anxiety disorder during her life. It’s typical for depression and anxiety to be accompanied by negative thinking patterns and self-doubt cycles. That’s why cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) is so impactful for women.
It’s like piecing through dark clouds overhead. Through various approaches, CBT directly addresses the negative thoughts that lead to or worsen states of depression and anxiety.
CBT is especially helpful because women tend to be more in tune with their feelings, be proactive with their mental health, and be open to CBT techniques. At Pynk Health, a female CBT practitioner can help you address your emotional distress and harmful belief system so that you may return to enjoying life.
What is Cognitive Behaviour Therapy?
Cognitive behaviour therapy is a form of psychotherapeutic treatment to help patients identify and transform destructive or disrupting thought styles that have direct negative impacts on their behaviour and emotions.
CBT aims to change the negative thought cycle that leads to or worsens emotional anguish, depression, and anxiety. Furthermore, there’s a direct correlation between this detrimental thinking process and mood. Therefore, by affecting the thought cycle, we can immediately impact how people feel.
Using CBT, negative thinking patterns can be identified, questioned, and replaced with positive, objective, and affirming thoughts instead.
CBT is used for treating many mental health conditions, including:
- Anger management
- Anxiety disorders, such as phobias and panic attacks
- Depression and depressive tendencies
- Eating disorders
- Postnatal depression
How Does CBT Work?
Like most forms of therapy, CBT is an active therapy. In other words, for the patient to learn to develop healthy coping skills and emotional responses, the therapist and patient must be proactive.
Of course, it’s not magical. Any type of mental health requires active participation. Using CBT, you can learn to recognise automatic negative thoughts and the triggers that bring them about.
Ordinarily, CBT starts with an assessment where you can get to know your therapist as they introduce you to the process and develop an understanding of what you are going through.
Next comes the formulation phase. During these sessions, your therapist helps you map out your fears and anxieties and identify your negative thought patterns and triggers.
In parallel, together with your therapist, you can start setting realistic goals. For example, if you keep undermining yourself and setting yourself up for failure, your objective can be to trust yourself more and stop talking about yourself negatively.
Finally comes the active treatment period, which is when you create strategies to stop your negative thinking style. You can work on changing the way you think to transform your reactions, feelings, and emotions. The aim is to develop coping strategies tailored to you, enabling you to interrupt and prevent negative thinking when it occurs.
Your therapist can draw from several techniques to help you cope with your emotional distress and harmful belief system, including:
- Cognitive restructuring or reframing
- Thought challenging or change of perception
- Behavioural activation
- Behavioural experiments
- Relaxation techniques
CBT is a flexible therapy modality suitable for treating numerous conditions, including anxiety, depression, and postnatal depression.
CBT is widely the same across genders, with treatment style variations typically due to the therapist, individual, and the subsequent issue, rather than gender. However, there is a history of CBT efficacy, with a track record of CBT’s success for women when treating depression, anxiety, addictions such as alcohol, eating disorders like bulimia, postnatal depression, and even menopausal symptoms.
CBT for Anxiety
CBT is an important evidence-based practice particularly efficient in treating anxiety disorders, including generalised anxiety disorder, panic attacks, phobias, and social anxiety.
Fear, apprehension, and anticipation of negative outcomes can result in mild to elevated anxiety issues. CBT helps you get at the heart of the problem by analysing the way you think and behave when you get anxious.
Basically, CBT treatments create an interruption in your negative thought cycle and irrational patterns. Its effect brings you back to the present moment and reduces your anxiety and potential avoidant behaviours.
Besides helping you rationalise, CBT reduces the behaviours that induce your anxiety. Problematic behaviour can include avoidance, control, distraction, projection, and procrastination. These false coping mechanisms develop themselves as a way to keep triggers at bay but increase feelings of anxiety over time and can impact your everyday life.
Be aware that CBT is a gradual process. Progress is incremental, yet you can start seeing improvement in your anxiety after just a few sessions. Your therapist may ask you to get into uncomfortable or triggering situations, but it’s part of the treatment.
CBT for Depression
If you suffer from depression, CBT is a valuable treatment option. With your therapist’s guidance, you can uncover damaging thought patterns and identify underlying issues or traumas that have led to your depression.
Your therapist can suggest a combination of CBT techniques, including giving you “homework” with journaling exercises to help you eliminate distorted perceptions and self-defeating thinking.
Understand that exploring painful emotions and experiences isn’t easy and requires your openness to face your fears. Nonetheless, the process is part of your journey towards healing.
CBT for Postnatal Depression
Women can experience depression and anxiety at any point in their life. However, with the massive hormonal changes during and after pregnancy, the risk of depression is much higher during that time. The bond between a mother and her child is critical for healthy development, making it all the more crucial for postnatal depression to be addressed.
In Australia, approximately 1 in 10 women suffer from depression during pregnancy and 1 in 6 women during the first year postnatal. Often, depression and anxiety go hand in hand, with many women experiencing both conditions simultaneously.
A meta-analysis on the topic has found that CBT is effective in relieving both psychological symptoms and improving the quality of life of mothers experiencing postnatal depression.
In addition, as a non-pharmacological treatment, CBT has shown compelling therapeutic effects on postnatal depression.
Benefits of CBT
What makes CBT so popular is how it departs from earlier forms of behavioural therapies. It used to be that traditional behaviour therapies would focus on associations, reinforcements, and discipline to change behaviour. CBT takes a different approach by focusing on how thoughts and feelings affect behaviour.
With CBT, people are involved and empowered in their mental health. Even more, treatments are highly focused on specific practical goals and often measurable results.
The objective of CBT is to make you comfortable with the fact that there’s only so much in life that you can control, but you can directly affect how it affects you and how you deal with it.
Some of cognitive behaviour therapy’s benefits include:
- Greater self-awareness and self-understanding. As you become aware of negative or irrational thoughts and develop healthier thinking patterns, you develop a deeper understanding of your own functioning.
- Practical and effective coping mechanisms. With CBT, you can find coping mechanisms adapted to your triggers. For example, if you suffer from social anxiety, you can use a coping mechanism involving affirming language and postures to help you feel comfortable in triggering settings.
- Quick results. Depending on your emotional distress’ complexity, you can feel improvements in your mood and behaviour over a short period of time. Some treatments can show results in as little as five sessions.
- There’s structure and logic. Patients appreciate how CBT is very structured. No matter what treatment techniques are used, there’s a logical process behind it, and although gradual, progress can be measured.
- Works both in-person and online. CBT has been shown to maintain the same therapeutic benefit face-to-face and online.
Cognitive Behaviour Therapy Online
In the past couple of years, demand has increased for flexibility and effective forms of therapy. With online CBT, you have even more access and control over your mental health. Taking advantage of technological advances and experienced therapists, online CBT enables a high degree of therapeutic bond and efficient treatment techniques. There are many benefits to online therapy, including:
Online therapy lets you forgo commuting to an office, instead allowing you to complete your therapy from the comfort of your own home.
The online software used to communicate for your therapy sessions ensures that your information is kept safe and secure. Additionally, attending online therapy from home creates an extra layer of privacy.
Online therapy sessions are offered on weekends and after business hours, allowing for increased flexibility and availability of sessions.
The expert female psychologists at Pynk Health offer a variety of treatment modalities in addition to CBT, ensuring that you can easily access treatment that is conducive to your individual needs.
If you’d like to learn more about our online therapy services and how they can benefit you, read more in the following article.
At Pynk Health, a female CBT therapist is by your side every step of the way. If you’d like to learn more about the services and support available at Pynk Health, please get in contact today.