What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a general therapy approach to counseling using the cognitive model for emotions. This model is based on the idea that our thoughts or cognitions directly influence our emotional responses which in turn directly affects the way we act or behave. CBT was primarily developed as a combination of behavioral therapy and cognitive therapy. However, it is now considered to be a general term classifying a larger group of similar therapies. The CBT model aims at solving problems through a goal-oriented manner, focusing on each person’s individual and unique set of concerns.

During the course of treatment, people learn how to identify and change destructive or disturbing thought patterns that have a negative influence on behavior and emotions. The goal of cognitive behavior therapy is to teach clients that while they cannot control every aspect of the world around them, they can take control of how they interpret and deal with things in their environment. CBT is also empirically supported and has been shown to effectively help patients overcome a wide variety of maladaptive behaviors.

One of the main focuses of cognitive-behavioral therapy is on changing the automatic negative thoughts that can contribute to and exacerbate emotional difficulties, depression, and anxiety. These negative thoughts spring forward spontaneously, are accepted as true, and tend to negatively influence the individual’s mood. Through Cognitive Behavior Therapy, patients examine these thoughts and are encouraged to look at evidence from reality that either supports or refutes these thoughts. By doing this, people are able to take a more objective and realistic look at the thoughts that contribute to their feelings of anxiety and depression. By becoming aware of the negative and often unrealistic thoughts that dampen their feelings and moods, people are able to start engaging in healthier thinking patterns.