Myths and F.A.Q.

Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy has been the target of much prejudice. These erroneous judgments probably originated with methodological behaviourism, the first attempt to systematise behavioural science, made by Watson (1879-1958). Watson completely denied everything that concerned the mind (emotions, feelings, conscious and unconscious) and focused only on behaviour that could be observed. However, like any science, CBT has evolved, and with the development of Skinner's behaviourism, it began to consider the importance of feelings and thoughts, called covert behaviours. With the development of cognitive therapy, thought processes (or cognitions) were emphasised and studied in more detail. Below are some frequently asked questions about CBT and some of the answers.

1. Can CBT help someone seeking therapy for self-knowledge?

Yes! There is a myth that Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy is superficial, and it is not effective for those seeking therapy to gain a better understanding of themselves, and who do not have any psychiatric disorder. THIS IS NOT TRUE! With its goal of self-knowledge CBT aims to help the person gain awareness about their actions, thoughts and emotions in a more comprehensive way and in any context, shedding light on aspects of which the person had been unaware. The improvement in quality of life comes from the self-discovery and relearning of new relationships.

2. Is it true that CBT ignores the unconscious, emotions and feelings?

NO! CBT does not ignore the unconscious or emotions. Instead, it calls these processes "private events" or “covert behaviours”, as they cannot be observed directly. CBT believes that private events (feelings, emotions, thoughts) and public events (behaviours) are equally important for therapy.

3. Is it true that CBT focuses only on the present moment?

No. Although the main goal of therapy is to help patients obtain relief from symptoms that are currently present and in the fastest way possible, the psychologist needs to know the life history of the patient to understand how symptoms and difficulties developed. Furthermore, by understanding how the person dealt with similar situations or difficulties in the past, the psychologist can assess how best to guide the patient to face the present moment.

4. Does CBT aim to "train" people, turning them into “robots” or “puppets”?

Absolutely not! This myth probably stems from the fact that CBT uses many specific techniques, some of which are called "training" (e.g. social skills training, self-instruction training). But CBT is not merely a mechanical application of techniques. The therapist makes a careful analysis of the patient’s life history, their difficulties and strengths. Only then can the professional decide what strategies or techniques may work best for each person. It is important to remember that every decision is made together with the patient.

5. Is CBT limited to predicting and controlling behaviour, failing to see the person as a whole?

NO. CBT seeks to understand each person as a unique and complete individual who receives the influence of three different means: biological (genetics), psychological (personality, emotions) and social (the environment, the culture in which one lives). Behaviour is only one aspect of a person’s life.