Cognitive Behavioral Therapy – What it is and How it Works

Cognitive behavioral therapy or CBT is a combination of two effective therapies: cognitive and behavioral. Cognitive therapy applies to the thinking process and belief system while behavioral therapy applies to people’s actions. The structure of CBT formed in the 1960s and is used in both individual and group therapy settings. It was developed and refined by several prominent doctors, has received ample criticism from the mental health community and has stood the test of time and cynicism.

While more traditional therapies may take years to help a person suffering from a disorder, cognitive behavioral therapy is streamlined and take as little as sixteen (16) sessions to see positive results. CBT is oriented primarily to client goals and created to focus and tackle problems a client is experiencing.

Cognitive behavioral therapy has been found extremely effective in anxiety disorders and phobia disorders as well as schizophrenia though its spectrum is wide and deals with various types of disorders and mental illnesses. It primarily deals with the here and now and to help achieve the most effective results.

CBT’s approach is to take the bull by the horns so to speak and deal with problems head on It helps reverse negative thinking processes and transforms behaviors through changing thinking processes. It is found most effective once a client finds the best thinking processes and exercises for him or herself and implements them in to everyday living.

For example, cognitive behavioral therapists may use techniques such as:

teaching oneself to slow down,
using positive affirmations or reinforcements to halt negative and destructive thinking,
pay close attention to voices one listens to and voices that drive a person to do certain things, and
focusing attention on specific motivations.
Once thinking processes are determined and being handled, behavioral therapy begins. It involves implementing cognitive techniques to everyday and real-life situations. It often entails client “homework” assignments in which the client visualizes real situations and applies learned techniques to conquer whatever is causing problems. Other “homework” may include practicing positive cognitive techniques several times daily. Once the mind shifts from the negative to the positive, a new technique is practiced and the cycle continues until negative thinking and behaviors are gone.

The most major benefit of cognitive behavioral therapy is that it calls the client to action. The client takes a more active role in his or her own therapy to treat symptoms and disorders.


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