About CBT or Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or CBT was originally developed by Aaron T. Beck, M.D. It was originally developed for depression as a way to influence mood and behavior. By challenging and changing our thoughts or our relationship to our thoughts, we can change behavior and emotions. CBT is an evidenced-based treatment with empirical support as an effective treatment for mood disorders and anxiety as well as a variety of issues for which people seek treatment. CBT is a short-term, relatively brief psychotherapeutic approach that focuses on problem-solving and skill-building in order to challenge patterns of thinking and the behavior that maintains challenging conditions. CBT utilizes between-session tasks or homework in order to help the client systematically apply new techniques and skills into his or her daily life.  Research shows that people are less likely to relapse with CBT treatment and it can also successfully be used with other psychological treatments such as psychodynamic psychotherapy, EMDR therapy and pharmacotherapy or medication management.

What issues are helped by CBT therapy?

  • Depression
  • Dysthymic disorder
  • Anxiety
  • Social anxiety
  • Panic attacks
  • Phobias
  • Fears
  • Obsessions
  • Rituals
  • Compulsions
  • Emotion Regulation
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Agoraphobia
  • Chronic depression
  • Insomnia
  • Health anxiety or hypochondriasis
  • Procrastination
  • Stress
  • Divorce, separations and breakups
  • Anger problems
  • Substance use
  • Smoking cessation
  • Eating disorders
  • Work stress
  • Relationship issues
  • Weight problems and obesity
  • Grief
  • Low self-esteem

Cognitive behavioral therapy or CBT is a type of treatment that involves evaluating the way a client thinks and feels from situation to situation, with the goal of helping him or her identify faulty thinking patterns that were learned earlier in life and have been sustained and reinforced over time. Cognitive behavioral therapy includes assignments, tasks and strategies designed to help the client re-evaluate his or her core beliefs and thought patterns, allowing for a more informed decision as to whether these beliefs are accurate.

Cognitive behavioral therapy also includes specific elements aimed at changing behavioral responses. CBT incorporates stress reduction techniques and goals and may include exercises involving relaxation, visualization and meditation/mindfulness. CBT therapy also provides concrete solutions for problem solving, time management and increased attention span and focus. CBT can be very helpful for clients who wish to lose weight, begin dating or change careers by helping them with time management skills, goal establishment and support for uncovering self-defeating habits and patterns that will interfere with progress.

Cognitive behavioral therapy is evidence-based and supported by a large body of research and is proven to be effective in treating a variety of emotional and behavioral difficulties. CBT may be integrated into other types of therapy such as short-term, crisis or psychodynamic psychotherapy for greater treatment success.

More about CBT:

Cognitive behavioral therapy (or cognitive behavioral therapies or CBT) is a psychotherapeutic approach that aims to solve problems concerning dysfunctional emotions, behaviors and cognitions through a goal-oriented, systematic procedure. The title is used in diverse ways to designate behavior therapycognitive therapy, and to refer to therapy based upon a combination of basic behavioral and cognitive research.

There is empirical evidence that CBT is effective for the treatment of a variety of problems, including mood, anxiety, personality, eating, substance abuse, and psychotic disorders. Treatment is often manualized, with specific technique-driven brief, direct, and time-limited treatments for specific psychological disorders. CBT is used in individual therapy as well as group settings, and the techniques are often adapted for self-help applications. Some clinicians and researchers are more cognitive oriented (e.g. cognitive restructuring), while others are more behaviorally oriented (in vivo exposure therapy). Other interventions combine both (e.g. imaginal exposure therapy).

CBT was primarily developed through a merging of behavior therapy with cognitive therapy. While rooted in rather different theories, these two traditions found common ground in focusing on the "here and now", and on alleviating symptoms. Many CBT treatment programs for specific disorders have been evaluated for efficacy and effectiveness; the health-care trend of evidence-based treatment, where specific treatments for symptom-based diagnoses are recommended, has favored CBT over other approaches such as psychodynamic treatments. In the United Kingdom, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence recommends CBT as the treatment of choice for a number of mental health difficulties, including post-traumatic stress disorderOCDbulimia nervosa, and clinical depression, and for the neurological condition chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis.

The particular therapeutic techniques vary within the different approaches of CBT according to the particular kind of problem issues, but commonly may include keeping a diary of significant events and associated feelings, thoughts and behaviors; questioning and testing cognitions, assumptions, evaluations and beliefs that might be unhelpful and unrealistic; gradually facing activities which may have been avoided; and trying out new ways of behaving and reacting. Relaxation, mindfulness and distraction techniques are also commonly included. Cognitive behavioral therapy is often also used in conjunction with mood stabilizing medications to treat conditions like bipolar disorder. Its application in treating schizophrenia along with medication and family therapy is recognized by the NICE guidelines (see below) within the British NHS.

Going through cognitive behavioral therapy generally is not an overnight process for clients. Even after clients have learned to recognize when and where their mental processes go awry, it can, in some cases, take considerable time or effort to replace a dysfunctional cognitive-affective-behavioral process or habit with a more reasonable and adaptive one. ~Wikipedia

NYC Therapist Kimberly Seelbrede, LCSW is a skilled Psychotherapist, Relationship and Stress Reduction Expert in New York City. She provides therapy, EMDR & Coaching to individuals and couples.