Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

What Is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a form of psychotherapy that treats problems and boosts happiness by modifying dysfunctional emotions, behaviors, and thoughts. Unlike traditional Freudian psychoanalysis, which probes childhood wounds to get at the root causes of conflict, CBT focuses on solutions, encouraging patients to challenge distorted cognitions and change destructive patterns of behavior.

CBT rests on the idea that thoughts and perceptions influence behavior. Feeling distressed, in some cases, may distort one’s perception of reality. CBT aims to identify harmful thoughts, assess whether they are an accurate depiction of reality, and if they are not, employ strategies to challenge and overcome them.

CBT is appropriate for people of all ages, including children, adolescents, and adults. Evidence has mounted that CBT can benefit numerous conditions, such as major depressive disorder, anxiety disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, eating disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorders, and many others. Research also indicates that CBT can be delivered effectively online, in addition to face-to-face therapy sessions.

Change Your Thinking

The tools deployed in CBT—which include learning to identify and dispute unrealistic or unhelpful thoughts and developing problem-solving skills—have been used to treat a broad range of mental health challenges. CBT is now considered among the most efficacious forms of talk therapy, especially when clients incorporate strategies into their daily life. This effort to gain insight into one’s cognitive and behavioral processes and modify them in a constructive way often involves ongoing practice, but is favored by many clients as it can require fewer therapy sessions than other modalities.

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