What Is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is one of the most widely practised forms of psychotherapy health treatment among counselors and psychologists. As the name implies, cognitive behavioral therapy takes the thoughts and behaviors of the patients as its primary focus, and it involves helping patients achieve desired outcomes by intentionally changing their patterns of behavior and thought. Many different, more specific forms of therapy can be considered CBT, depending on how they are implemented by counselors and patients alike.

How CBT Works

CBT usually begins with a therapist learning about the things that bring you to see them. In most (if not all) cases, it will be some undesirable symptoms that you experience in everyday life. The symptoms you experience may include high levels of stress, panic attacks, sadness, or even bodily symptoms such as headaches and fatigue. Your therapist will take time to discover what issues you are dealing with and understand your reasons for seeking therapy.

Once your reasons for seeking therapy have been discovered, the therapist will then develop a treatment plan to guide you on the road to feeling better. The treatment plan will involve sessions in which the therapist helps you learn about the problems you face as well as the root cognitive and behavioral sources of those problems. Following these sessions, you will be given homework assignments to work on.

While homework might not be something you want to do, research has shown that it is often to achieve the positive results you desire. The assignments will often be simple things such as journaling, relaxation techniques, tasks to perform in daily life, as well as goal-setting worksheets. Homework completion is one of the best ways to take the lessons you learn from CBT sessions and apply them to your routine thoughts and behaviors. Completing homework will also give you the chance to replace negative thoughts and habits with more beneficial practices.

Throughout the process of cognitive behavioral therapy, you can become more attuned to the ways in which your thoughts and actions affect your mental health. This can put you in a better position to stop unhealthy thoughts and habits before they begin to feel natural. With some work and guidance from your therapist, CBT could help you establish healthier thoughts and behaviors in place of the harmful ones that cause unpleasant symptoms.