Cognitive Behavioral Therapy CBT: What It Is & Techniques

This is an important step in managing overwhelming emotions and unhelpful behaviors. Whereas other types of therapy may look at how previous events have affected your current state of mind, CBT tends to focus much more on current issues and moving forward. CBT also focuses exclusively on the individual versus any family problems or other situations that may impact a person’s life. Psychodynamic therapy is often a longer-term approach to mental health treatment compared with CBT. (CBT) is a treatment approach that helps you recognize negative or unhelpful thought and behavior patterns. Depending on your situation, you might feel slightly more upset during therapy.

Unlike some other talking treatments, CBT deals with your current problems, rather than focusing on issues from your past. You’re shown how to change these negative patterns to improve the way you feel. CBT is based on the concept that your thoughts, feelings, physical sensations and actions are interconnected, and that negative thoughts and feelings can trap you in a negative cycle.

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CBT is a preferred modality of therapy among practitioners and insurance companies alike as it can be effective in a brief period of time, generally 5 to 20 sessions, though there is no set time frame. Research indicates that CBT can be delivered effectively online, in addition to face-to-face therapy sessions. For instance, if someone believes that bad things happen to bad people, being raped confirms that one is bad, not that one was unjustly violated. There are several challenges that people may face when engaging in cognitive behavioral therapy. CBT is one of the most researched types of therapy, in part, because treatment is focused on very specific goals and results can be measured relatively easily.

After the trial sessions, you and your psychotherapist have to prepare an application explaining why therapy is needed. You have to submit this application to your health insurance company before therapy can begin. The statutory health insurance company decides whether to approve therapy based on an evaluation. However, several recent studies have been done on actual clinical subjects and have also found that rational emotive behavior therapy (REBT) is often helpful (Lyons & Woods 1991). Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a form of talking therapy that can be used to treat people with a wide range of mental health problems.

All About Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Some critics also argue that while CBT addresses current problems and focuses on specific issues, it does not address the possible underlying causes of mental health conditions, such as an unhappy childhood. Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is effective in treating some mental health problems, but it may not be successful or suitable for everyone. The first step is an assessment of the patient and the initiation of developing an individualized conceptualization of him/her. The conceptualization based on the CBT model is built from session to session and is shared with the patient at an appropriate time later in therapy.

Patients may receive assignments between sessions, such as exercises to observe and recognize their thought patterns, and apply the skills they learn to real situations in their life. Therapists use a variety of techniques to aid patients in reducing symptoms and improving functioning. These are intended to help the person reconceptualize their understanding of traumatic experiences, as well as their understanding of themselves and their ability to cope. In most cases, CBT is a gradual process that helps you take incremental steps toward behavior change.

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Most early studies were conducted on people with experimentally induced anxieties or non-clinical problems such as mild fear of snakes (Kendall & Kriss, 1983). Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) is a type of cognitive therapy first used by Albert Ellis, focusing on resolving emotional and behavioral problems. The cognitive therapist teaches clients how to identify distorted cognitions through a process of evaluation.

  • In Germany, a psychotherapy practice can bill the statutory health insurance company directly for up to five trial sessions.
  • It is important to know the extent and effect of depression on the overall functioning and interpersonal relationships.
  • By making your problems more manageable, CBT can help you change your negative thought patterns and improve the way you feel.
  • CBT is largely based on the idea that your thoughts, emotions, and actions are connected.
  • These unhelpful core beliefs can be modified with cognitive behavioral therapy or CBT.
  • Humanistic therapists work from the idea that you are the expert in your difficulties, and they will let you guide the direction of your sessions, trusting that you know what you need to talk about.

CBT is a structured form of psychotherapy that can occur in a relatively short period of time—often between 5 and 20 weekly sessions, generally around 45 to 50 minutes each. CBT usually starts with one or two sessions focused on assessment, during which the therapist will help the client identify the symptoms or behavior patterns that are causing them the most problems and set goals for treatment. In subsequent sessions, the client will identify the negative or maladaptive thoughts they have about their current problems and determine whether or not these thoughts are realistic. If these thoughts are deemed unrealistic, the client will learn skills that help them challenge and ultimately change their thinking patterns so they are more accurate with respect to a given situation.


One of the greatest benefits of cognitive behavioral therapy is that it helps clients develop coping skills that can be useful both now and in the future. CBT generally focuses on specific problems, using a goal-oriented approach. In general, there’s little risk in getting cognitive behavioral therapy. This is because CBT can cause you to explore painful feelings, emotions and experiences. The term cognitive comes from the Latin “cognoscere”, meaning “to recognize.” The point of cognitive therapy is to form a clear idea of your own thoughts, attitudes and expectations.

Another example is enhanced cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT-E, a form of CBT specifically designed to treat eating disorders. Brief cognitive behavioral therapy, or BCBT, is a shortened form of CBT used in situations where the client is not able to undergo a longer course of therapy. Research has found the CBT delivered virtually is often equally as effective, and sometimes more effective, than CBT delivered in person. For example, one review study found that online CBT reduced symptoms of anxiety and depression to the same extent or more than in person CBT. Online CBT was also effective in treating post-traumatic stress disorder, panic disorder, and specific phobia. Given that online therapy removes certain barriers, such as travel time or childcare, it’s a strong option to consider.

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