What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)?
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a common type of therapy (psychotherapy) used to treat a wide range of mental health problems. While not the only effective treatment that therapists use, CBT is unique in that it is an evidence-based method, scientifically proven to show results for most people.
In addition to this, CBT can help you quickly identify and cope with specific challenges and stressors within your life. There are several core principles that CBT uses to decrease psychological distress:
- Learned patterns or unhelpful behaviors lead to psychological problems
- Faulty or unhelpful ways of thinking lead to psychological problems
- Problem-solving skills can help individuals cope with difficult situations.
- Using mindfulness to learn how to relax your mind and body
- Learning ways to develop a greater sense of confidence in your abilities
- Gaining a better understanding of your behaviors and thoughts to reevaluate them within situations
- Learning coping skills to decrease distress and relieve symptoms to increase the quality of life
Benefits of CBT
CBT is designed to address a wide range of mental health problems and is often a shorter form of therapy than traditional types of psychotherapy. CBT is a widely taught theoretical orientation that many therapists use in their practices. While every therapist practices a bit differently, this method has a relatively standard set of principles and rules to treat clients effectively.
Common Mental Health Problems that could Benefit from CBT
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy may help improve numerous mental health problems, including (but not limited to):
- Eating Disorders
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
- Substance and Alcohol Misuse
What to Expect During CBT
When receiving Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, a clinician will rarely use every technique and strategy described earlier in the article. Instead, CBT emphasizes a collaborative and structured approach to therapy tailored to the client’s needs.
This collaborative approach helps teach the client to become their own therapist within their lives outside of therapy. Through homework, exercises in and outside of treatment, and the development of coping and problem-solving skills, clients learn how to challenge and change their behaviors and thought patterns to increase their quality of life and decrease psychological distress.
Additionally, CBT therapists also tend to focus on what is happening currently in the person’s life instead of the person’s past. While some history of the person’s life is necessary for therapy, the primary focus of CBT is to develop ways of coping with life moving forward.
Length of Therapy
CBT is generally considered a form of short-term therapy. Expect traditional CBT to last between 5-20 sessions, depending. However, it is essential to discuss what length (and type) of treatment is right for you with your therapist to ensure the most beneficial outcome possible.