Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a common form of psychological treatment used to help patients find new and more constructive ways to behave through improving their thought patterns. CBT is based on the belief that psychological issues largely arise from unconstructive thought patterns and maladaptive behavior, both of which can be greatly improved through self-awareness and prescribed coping strategies. The primary goal of CBT is to work with individuals to help them become aware of their own negative or inaccurate thought and behavior patterns so that they can meet and reframe challenging situations successfully. Treatment sessions emphasize collaboration between therapist and patient in working towards an understanding of the patient’s issues and an effective plan of care.
CBT is used to treat a wide range of mental health issues, including:
- Anger issues
- Bipolar disorder
- Eating disorders
- Panic attacks
- Personality disorders
- Stress management
- Relationship problems
- Chronic pain or serious illness
- Low self-esteem
How Does Cognitive Behavior Therapy Work?
CBT begins by identifying the negative thought patterns present for a patient. This is the starting point for addressing a patient’s maladaptive behaviors. The goal of this stage is honest introspection ultimately leading to self-discovery and positive change where it is needed. To help facilitate recognition of negative or inaccurate thinking, a therapist may ask the client to pay attention to their physical, emotional, and behavioral responses to different situations, then guide them in re-interpreting and re-framing their experience in way that is more positive.
Some of the primary strategies used to improve negative thought patterns include:
- Learning to recognize and re-evaluate common self-distortions that are contributing to the issues that are being experienced.
- Gaining insight into understanding the behavior and motivations of others.
- Developing problem-solving skills and strategies to cope with challenging situations.
- Cultivating confidence in one’s own abilities.
Once new thought patterns are formed, patients work with their therapist to develop strategies directed at changing negative behavioral patterns, including:
- Confronting fears instead of running from them.
- Role playing to prepare for potential difficult interactions with others.
- Increasing the mind-body connection to promote a sense of calm.
How Effective Is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?
Current support for the efficacy of CBT is strong, with numerous studies suggesting it leads to improvement in functioning as well as in quality of life.1 Partly because of its focus on highly specific and measurable goals, CBT is also one of the most researched types of therapy in psychology, leading some researchers to term it the “gold standard” in psychological treatment.2
Evidence supporting the use of CBT suggests:
- CBT is the leading evidence-based treatment for eating disorders (Agras, Fitzsimmons-Craft, & Wilfley, 2017).
- CBT is an effective intervention for insomnia, as well as general medical conditions that disrupt sleep (Williams, Vatthauer, & McCrae, 2013).
- CBT is helpful in managing psychotic disorders (Hofmann, Asnaani, Vonk, & Fang, 2012).
- CBT is an effective method of delaying or preventing bipolar relapses (Hofmann, Asnaani, Vonk, & Fang, 2012).
- CBT is effective in treating symptoms of depression and anxiety in children and adolescents (Weersing, Jeffreys, Do, Schwartz, & Bolano, 2017).
How to Find a CBT Therapist:
Three ways to benefit from CBT:
- Contact your physician and/or consult the directory of certified therapists offered by the National Association of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapists to find a licensed professional near you.
- Check with your health insurance to see if they cover CBT.
- Utilize A.I. therapy services that offer CBT. At Mindboost, we deliver integrative support using an algorithm that provides individualized care via a wide range of psychological modalities, including CBT. Using evidence-based approaches to help clients foster resilience and reinforce coping strategies, Mindboost customizes coaching for every individual client encounter.
- Hofmann, S., Asnaani, A., Vonk, I., & Fang, A. (2012). The Efficacy of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: A Review of Meta-analyses. Cognitive therapy and research, 36(5), 427-440.
- David, D., Cristea, I., & Hofmann, S. (2018). Why Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Is the Current Gold Standard of Psychotherapy. Frontiers in psychiatry, 9, 4.
- Agras, W., Fitzsimmons-Craft, E., & Wilfley, D. (2017). Evolution of cognitive-behavioral therapy for eating disorders. Behavior research and therapy, 88, 26-36.
- Weersing, V., Jeffreys, M., Do, M., Schwartz, K., & Bolano, C. (2017). Evidence Base Update of Psychological Treatments for Child and Adolescent Depression. Journal of clinical child and adolescent psychology: the official journal for the Society of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, American Psychological Association, Division 53, 46(1), 11-43.
- Williams, J., Vatthauer, K., & McCrae, C. (2013). Cognitive behavioral treatment of insomnia. Chest, 143(2), 554-565.