CBT is grounded in the proven understanding that much of our suffering results from the interaction of problematic thinking styles, painful emotions, and ineffective behaviors. This treatment focuses on identifying and changing problematic thought patterns in order to change behaviors and emotional states. Instead of reacting to the reality of a situation, an individual may sometimes react to his or her own distorted viewpoint of the situation. In CBT, therapists make their patients aware of patterns of distorted thinking, with the goal of changing and replacing them with healthier thoughts and behaviors.
This self-discovery, guided by a therapist, is essential for reducing emotional suffering. The goal is to develop new coping strategies that can be used in real-life situations. One of the greatest benefits of CBT is that it helps you learn new coping skills that will generalize to future struggles.
Patients often come to CBT wanting help dealing with stress, anxiety, panic, and/or depression. It is a structured, collaborative therapy that can include:
- homework assignments, in which patients try out new responses to situations that have been discussed in therapy;
- journal writing, to help raise awareness of unhealthy thoughts and their behavioral consequences; and
- cognitive rehearsal, in which difficult situations are imagined, and the therapist helps the patient to successfully deal with the associated thoughts, emotions, and behaviors.
Cognitive behavior therapy was pioneered by Dr. Aaron T. Beck in the 1960s. For more information, visit The Beck Institute for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.