CBT - Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Information About CBT

What Is CBT?

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a mental health protocol that focuses on examining the associations between thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. By exploring the thinking patterns that lead to self-destructive thoughts and actions (along with the beliefs that direct them), people with mental illness can alter their thinking and improve their coping skills.

CBT is a type of psychotherapy that is different from traditional psychodynamic psychotherapy in that the therapist and the patient will actively work together to help the patient recover from their mental illness. People who seek CBT can expect their therapist to be problem-focused and goal-directed in addressing the challenging symptoms of mental illnesses. Because CBT is an active intervention, one can also expect to do homework or practice outside of sessions.

A person who is depressed may have the belief, "I am worthless," and a person with panic disorder may have the belief, "I am in danger." While the person in distress likely believes these to be ultimate truths, with a therapist’s help, the individual is encouraged to challenge these irrational beliefs and work to replace them with positive views.

Part of this process involves seeing the negative beliefs as assumptions rather than facts and then testing out those beliefs by experimentation. Additionally, people in CBT therapy are encouraged to monitor and journal the thoughts that come into their minds, which are called automatic thoughts. Taking these actions allows the patient and therapist to search for thinking patterns that can cause negative thoughts, which can lead to negative feelings and self-destructive behaviors.

When Is CBT Used?

Scientific studies of CBT have demonstrated its usefulness for a wide variety of mental illnesses, including mood disorders, anxiety disorders, personality disorders, eating disorders, substance abuse disorders, sleep disorders, and psychotic disorders. Studies have shown that CBT actually changes brain activity in people with mental illnesses who receive this treatment, suggesting that the brain is actually improving its functioning as a result of engaging in this form of therapy.

CBT has been shown to be as useful as antidepressant medications for some individuals with depression and may be superior in preventing relapse of symptoms.

Patients receiving CBT for depression are encouraged to schedule positive activities into their daily calendars in order to increase the amount of pleasure they experience. In addition, depressed patients learn how to change or “restructure” negative thoughts in order to interpret their environment in a less negatively biased way.

It is common knowledge that proper sleep is extremly important when treating both depression and bipolar disorder and therapists will target sleeping patterns to improve and regulate sleep schedules with their patients. Studies indicate that patients who receive CBT in addition to treatment with medication have better outcomes than patients who do not receive CBT as an additional treatment.

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CBT is a psycho-social protocol that works to diminish symptoms of various mental health conditions, principally depression and anxiety conditions. CBT is one of the most effective protocols for treating substance abuse and many co-occurring mental health disorders.

CBT focuses on changing cognitive distortions such as thoughts, beliefs, and attitudes - and their associated behaviors. This works to improve emotional regulation and develop personal coping strategies that target solving present problems. Though it was originally designed to treat depression, its uses have been expanded to include many issues and the treatment of many mental health conditions, including anxiety, substance use disorders, marital problems, ADHD, and eating disorders. CBT includes a number of cognitive or behavioral psychotherapies that treat defined psychopathologies using evidence-based techniques and strategies.

CBT is a typical type of talk therapy based on the basic principles found in behavioral and cognitive psychology. CBT is different from other approaches to psychotherapy, such as the psychoanalytic approach, where the therapist looks for underlying meanings behind the behaviors and then formulates a diagnosis. Therefore, CBT is a problem/solution-focused and action-oriented therapeutic protocol, in that it is used to treat specific problems related to a diagnosed mental disorder.

The therapist's role is to assist the client in discovering and practicing useful tactics to address the goals that have been identified and to improve symptoms of the disorder. CBT works on negative thoughts and dysfunctional behaviors that play a role in the development and persistence of many mental health disorders. CBT also contends that symptoms and associated distress can be reduced by teaching new thinking skills and coping mechanisms.

cbt therapy for relationships

"No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another." - Charles Dickens