Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
is a form of psychotherapy
that emphasizes the important role of thinking in how we feel and what
we do. Cognitive-behavioral therapist teach that when our brains
are healthy, it is our thinking that causes us to feel and act the way
we do. Therefore, if we are experiencing unwanted feelings and
behaviors, it is important to identify the thinking that is causing the
feelings / behaviors and to learn how to replace this thinking with
thoughts that lead to more desirable reactions.
There are several approaches to cognitive-behavioral therapy, including
Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy, Rational Behavior Therapy, Rational
Living Therapy, Cognitive Therapy, and Dialectic Behavior Therapy.
However, most cognitive-behavioral therapies have the following
1. CBT is based on the Cognitive Model of Emotional Response.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy is based on the
scientific fact that our thoughts
cause our feels and behaviors, not external things,
like people, situations, and
events. The benefit of this fact is that we
can change the way we think to
feel / act better even if the situation has not
2. CBT is Briefer and
Cognitive-behavioral therapy is considered
among the "fastest" in terms of
results obtained. The average number of
sessions clients receive (across all
types of problems) is only 16. Other forms of
therapy, like psychoanalysis,
can take years. What enables CBT to be briefer
is its highly instructional
nature and the fact that it makes use of homework
3. A sound therapeutic
relationship is necessary for effective therapy, but
not the focus.
of therapy assume that the main reason people get better in
therapy is because of the positive relationship
between the therapist and
client. Cognitive-behavioral therapists
believe it is important to have a good,
trusting relationship, but that is not enough.
CBT therapists believe that the
client changes when they learn to think
differently; therefore, CBT therapists
focus on teaching rational self-counseling skills.
4. CBT is a collaborative
effort between the therapist and the client.
Cognitive-behavioral therapist seek to learn
what their clients want out of life
(their goals) and then help their clients achieve
those goals. The therapist's
role is to listen, teach, and encourage, while the
client's roles is to speak,
learn, and implement what they learn.
5. CBT is based on stoic
Cognitive-behavioral therapy does not tell
people how to feel. However, most
people seeking therapy do not want to feel they way
they do. CBT teaches
the benefits of feeling, at worst, calm when
confronted with undesirable
situations. It also emphasizes the fact that
we have our undesirable situations
whether we are upset about them or not. If we
are upset about our problems,
we have two problems -- the problem, and our upset
about it. Most sane
people want to have the fewest number of problems
6. CBT uses the Socratic Method.
Cognitive-behavioral therapists want to gain a
very good understanding of
their clients concerns. That's why they often
ask questions. They also
encourage their clients to ask questions of
themselves, like, "How do I
really know that those people are laughing at
me?" "Could they be laughing
about something else?"
7. CBT is structured and directive.
Cognitive-behavioral therapists have a specific
agenda for each session.
Specific techniques / concepts are taught during
each session. CBT
focuses on helping the client achieve the goals they
have set. CBT is
directive in that respect. However, CBT
therapists do not tell their clients
what to do -- rather, they teach their
clients how to do.
8. CBT is based on an educational model.
CBT is based on the scientifically supported
assumption that most emotional
and behavioral reactions are learned.
Therefore, the goal of therapy is to
help clients unlearn their unwanted
reactions and to learn a new way of
reacting. While CBT therapists do not present
themselves as "know-it-alls",
the assumption is that if clients knew what the
therapist had to teach them,
the clients would not have the emotional /
behavioral problems they are
Therefore, CBT has nothing to do with "just
talking". People can "just talk"
The educational emphasis of CBT has an additional
benefit -- it leads to
long term results. When people understand how
and why they are doing
well, they can continue doing what they are doing to
make themselves well.
10. Homework is a central feature
9. CBT theory and techniques rely on the Inductive Method.
A central aspect of Rational thinking
is that it is based on fact, not simply
our assumptions made. Often, we upset
ourselves about things when, in
fact, the situation isn't like we thought it
was. Had we known that, we would
not have wasted our time upsetting ourselves.
Therefore, the inductive method encourages us to
look at our thoughts as
being hypotheses that can be questioned and
tested. If we find that our
hypotheses are incorrect (because we have new
information), then we can
change our thinking to be in line with how the
situation really is.
There are over 25 very common mental mistakes that
people make that cause
them to not have the facts straight.
If when you attempted to learn your
multiplication tables you spent only one
hour per week studying them, you might
still be wondering what 5 X 5
equals. You very likely spent a
great deal of time at home studying your
multiplication tables, maybe with
The same is the case with
psychotherapy. Goal achievement (if obtained)
could take a very long time if all a
person were to think about the techniques
and topics taught for only one hour per
week. That's why CBT therapists
assign reading assignments and encourage
their clients to practice the
(Information from the National Association of Cognitive Behavioral