What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a frequently uttered phrase, but it’s also one that’s not widely understood. CBT is perhaps the most well-known type of psychotherapy; it is used to help people fight depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and eating disorders. The idea behind CBT is that it attacks the thought processes that prompt individuals to behave in certain ways. Once those reactions are treated, habits can be changed and these individuals can find healthier ways to cope with their problems.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy begins with a given issue that an individual wants to overcome. This can be depression, sadness, or substance abuse. CBT is helpful because it’s a focused activity that deals specifically with attacking the issue at hand. The goal is to defeat this issue within a prescribed period of time, usually 12 to 16 weeks.
CBT is a very helpful tool for attempting to understand why certain behaviors or feelings exist. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy enables a therapist and a patient to work together to figure out why patterns exist and how the individual in question can change their mindset, which will eventually lead to positive behavioral changes.
Applications of CBT
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is best used when there’s a specific issue to resolve. CBT employs a focus on the present day, with the individual performing exercises outside of their sessions in order to gain a better understanding of their situation. Combined with the aggressive timeframe and defined goal, CBT is a very effective tool when there’s a specific target, such as a disorder or major event that must be overcome.
CBT can be used to combat a wide variety of ailments and disorders.
- Sexual issues
- Substance abuse
- Eating disorders
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Sleep issues
The statistics show that CBT works. One study shows that half of the patients who received cognitive behavioral therapy were significantly improved, with 30 to 40 percent of these individuals recovering fully. Another study in the United Kingdom showed that CBT was far more effective than general treatment, even in cases where anti-depressants were prescribed.
How CBT Works
CBT is different from conventional psychotherapy, largely because of the refined and time-sensitive approach to the issues. Another major difference is the tools used to attack the patient’s problem. In addition to the “homework” that must be done out of the office, individuals who receive CBT are also subject to different types of exercises that seek to pinpoint the problem. For example, behavioral experiments, role-playing, and Socratic questioning can all be a part of CBT.
The ultimate goal of CBT is to highlight the issues underlying a given disorder, then provide the individual with new ways to quell their issues. However, CBT doesn’t delve into the past in the manner of other therapies. Instead, the focus is on the thought patterns that lead individuals to engage in destructive behaviors or thoughts. In the end, those thought processes are completely overhauled, with the negative impulses removed and more positive and wholesome activities coming in to take their place.
The effectiveness of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy cannot be disputed, and it can be a major benefit if you think you may be struggling with a mental disorder. A consultation with a mental health professional can help to determine if you or a loved one can benefit from CBT.