Asperger's Syndrome

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Asperger’s Syndrome or Autism

When you think of psychotherapy, what comes to mind? The patient lies on the sofa to receive dream interpretation and hypnosis? In fact, there are various types of psychological treatments today, and one of the common techniques is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).

What is the principle of cognitive behavioral therapy?

As the name suggests, cognitive behavioral therapy targets our thoughts and behaviors. This approach is based on understanding the impact of our thoughts, concepts and attitudes on our emotions and behaviour. The theory behind it has two assumptions. First, we are all affected by automatic thoughts, which means that we are all accustomed to relying on the same set of thinking patterns to think, and may ignore reality or other factors in the external environment, such as establishing automatic negative thoughts. This will cause us to automatically think from a pessimistic perspective and may focus too much on the negative parts of things. Second, our physical reactions, behaviors, and emotions are all caused by thoughts. For example, before the results are distributed, students who believe that their grades will be unfavorable will feel uneasy (emotion), their heart rate will increase (physical sensation), and they may even resort to overeating and other methods to relieve stress (behavior). On the contrary, people who think they will do well in the exam are less likely to have this reaction.

We will react differently to the same thing, reflecting that it is not objective facts that affect people, but our subjective “thoughts.” If we have some negative thoughts and think in an automatic way, we will be more likely to have negative emotions and behaviors, and we are more likely to fall into a vicious cycle over time.

What is the scope of application of cognitive behavioral therapy?

Cognitive behavioral therapy has been clinically proven to be effective in treating different types of emotional distress. These include: depression, panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, social anxiety disorder, etc. Additionally, it may help with physical problems such as anger, low self-esteem, and pain or fatigue.

How does cognitive behavioral therapy work?

In cognitive behavioral therapy, the therapist will work with the patient to solve the patient’s psychological problems. Cognitive behavioral therapy can be delivered on an individual or group basis.

At the beginning, the therapist will conduct an assessment for you and work with you to analyze your problems, including your thoughts, behaviors, and emotions, and their impact on your psychology and life. During the first few sessions, you and the therapist can also confirm with each other whether this method is applicable to your problem.

On the other hand, cognitive behavioral therapy mainly focuses on solving the current situation. Therefore, although the therapist may decide whether to ask about your past or childhood experiences based on practical needs, it will generally not be the focus.

During therapy, the therapist and patient work together to develop goals and solutions. Planning can include discussing short, medium and long-term goals and agreeing on topics to talk about every time we meet. When implementing and solving problems, the therapist will usually first ask the patient to recognize his own views on different things and the impact of his views on mood, behavior and life. The therapist and patient then work together to come up with solutions to these unhelpful thoughts and behaviors.

Of course, patients must also make efforts on their own and take the initiative to apply these skills in daily life (that is, “do homework”), such as filling out a record sheet to record their thoughts and replace them with more helpful or objective thoughts. Think about the thoughts that confuse you, improve your emotional management and behavior, etc., and discuss with your therapist the actual effectiveness of these methods to make adjustments. This way, you can reduce the frequency of problems and symptoms.

Who can I seek cognitive behavioral therapy from?

Cognitive behavioral therapy is generally performed by clinical psychologists, psychiatrists or other mental health professionals who have received professional training and relevant experience. You can start by asking your family doctor for help and referral to these professionals.

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