Cognitive Behaviour Therapy

Thoughts affect the way we feel. This rings true when we are dealing with difficult life situations. Usually people get stuck in a downward spiral of emotions that can lead to depressive thoughts and hamper their recovery. Cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) comes to rescue in such scenarios. It helps one to break the toxic cycle of negative emotions and offers a positive perspective to situations.

CBT and Cancer

There are different stages to CBT. The first stage deals with patients opening up to a different perspective to see a problem. The next step is to integrate this perspective in their daily life. Especially while dealing with cancer, and during difficult chemotherapy sessions, patients are encouraged to keep their thoughts on a positive line.

CBT, a type of psychotherapy, aims to help patients change behavior by changing thoughts and feelings. Used to treat mental, emotional, personality and behavioral disorders such as insomnia and depression, CBT has also been used to treat anticipatory nausea and vomiting.

The Negative Spirals

While dealing with a cancer diagnosis, there are certain common negative spirals people fall into. These can be termed as mental traps. They are as follows:

  1. Filtering in the negative – this involves only looking at the negative aspects of a situation.
  2. Sticking with extremes – always focussing on the extremes of any situation.
  3. False assumption – trying to second guess what people around are thinking and assuming the negative.
  4. Being unrealistic – Holding back and not reaching out to people because of certain self-imposed mental blocks.

CBT helps cancer patients recognize these negative spirals and opens their mind to the positive sides of situations. While dealing with cancer, keeping a positive outlook empowers a patient. It also opens them to new possibilities and improves the way of life.

Cognitive-Behavioral Stress Management

This psychotherapy approach combines meditation with a variety of cognitive-behavioral strategies, such as problem solving and interpersonal communication. The goal is to recognize and alter responses to negative thoughts.

Cognitive and Behavioral Cancer Stress Management (CBCSM) Programs for cancer are comprehensive, group-based interventions designed to help survivors identify their individual physiological, emotional, cognitive, and behavioral symptoms of stress and learn management strategies that target these stress-related symptoms.

A 2017 review involving breast cancer patients found evidence of improvements in depressive symptoms, anxiety, self-efficacy, fatigue, social functioning, perceived social support, and benefit finding, plus menopausal symptom self-management.

A small change in perspective can go a long way while dealing with cancer. The motive of CBT is to achieve that small, positive change in perspective.

  References & More Information

  1. Credit: Beyond Conventional Care Therapies
  2. Integrative Oncology Cancer Care
  3. Cognitive Behavior Therapy for Patients With Cancer
  4. How to Recognize and Change Negative Thought Patterns When You Have Cancer
  5. Using Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy Principles in Daily Patient Interactions
  6. The Free Dictionary. Cognitive-behavioral stress management. Viewed December 4, 2017.
  7. Gudenkauf LM, Ehlers SL. Psychosocial interventions in breast cancer survivorship care. Breast. 2017 Nov 20;38:1-6.

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