What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)?
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a structured and goal-oriented type of research-based psychotherapy.
Mental health professionals use CBT to treat or manage a vast range of mental health conditions and emotional concerns. It’s one of the most common and best-studied forms of psychotherapy.
CBT is based on several core principles, including:
During CBT, a mental health professional helps you take a close look at your thoughts, behaviors, and emotions. You will come to understand how your thoughts affect your actions and emotions. Through CBT, you can unlearn negative thoughts and behaviors, and learn to adopt healthier thinking patterns and habits.
CBT can be used alone or along with medication and other therapies. Your therapist will customize your treatment based on the issue you’re addressing.
With continued research and clinical experience, CBT has evolved into a family of related therapies, all sharing a common commitment to a practical, research-proven approach to reducing human suffering. CBT therapies include:
Basically, CBT works by identifying, tackling, and changing unhelpful thinking so that your mindset, behaviors, and overall well-being improve with practice.
When you change the way you feel about specific situations, for example, it will likely be easier to adapt your behaviors in the future.
In mental health conditions like depression, anxiety, substance use, phobias, and many others, negative thinking takes many forms, like:
In CBT, you’ll work with your therapist to identify the thinking patterns that cause your distress. This is an important step in managing overwhelming emotions and unhelpful behaviors.
Though many people think therapy is just chatting with a doctor, CBT is very structured and tailored to each person.
Over time, you’ll learn CBT techniques to acknowledge and challenge thoughts that get in your way.
CBT strategies might include:
By practicing CBT strategies like these with your therapist — and at home by yourself — you’ll develop useful skills like:
The idea is to apply the skills you learn in therapy to your daily life. It’s like exercising any muscle to make it stronger, except this time that muscle is your brain.
It Can CBT Help With?
Cognitive behavioral therapy is a valuable tool for treating and managing a wide range of mental health conditions and emotional challenges. People of all ages (including children) can receive CBT.
Mental health disorders that may improve with CBT include: