What is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)?


What is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)?

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is a widely recognised psychological treatment that aims to help people understand the thoughts and feelings that influence behaviours. CBT is commonly used to treat a wide range of disorders, including phobias, addiction, depression, and anxiety. This type of therapy is generally short-term and focused on helping clients deal with a very specific problem.

Throughout the course of treatment, people learn how to identify and change destructive or disturbing thought patterns that have a negative influence on behaviour and emotions. If you’ve ever wondered how CBT could help you or someone you know, this article will provide a comprehensive overview of the therapy, its benefits, and how it works.

Understanding Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is based on the concept that your thoughts, feelings, and actions are interconnected, and that changing negative thoughts and behaviours can lead to changes in how you feel. This therapy focuses on challenging and changing unhelpful cognitive distortions (e.g., thoughts, beliefs, and attitudes) and behaviours, improving emotional regulation, and the development of personal coping strategies that target solving current problems.

Origins and Evolution of CBT

CBT has its roots in the work of Dr. Aaron T. Beck in the 1960s. He observed that during his analytical sessions, his patients tended to have an internal dialogue going on in their minds, almost as if they were talking to themselves. But they would only report a fraction of this kind of thinking. Beck realised that the link between thoughts and feelings was very important. He invented the term “automatic thoughts” to describe emotion-filled thoughts that might pop up in the mind. Beck found that identifying these thoughts was the key to the client understanding and overcoming his or her difficulties.

How Does CBT Work?

CBT works by changing people’s attitudes and their behaviour by focusing on the thoughts, images, beliefs, and attitudes that are held (a person’s cognitive processes) and how these processes relate to the way a person behaves, as a way of dealing with emotional problems.

Cognitive Restructuring

One of the main components of CBT is what’s known as “cognitive restructuring,” which involves learning to recognise one’s distortions in thinking that are creating problems, and then to reevaluate them in light of reality. Techniques for cognitive restructuring may include:

  • Identifying negative thoughts. The first step is to identify and take note of negative thoughts that arise.
  • Challenging negative thoughts. Once these thoughts have been identified, the therapist will encourage the individual to challenge them.
  • Replacing negative thoughts. Finally, the individual learns to replace negative thoughts with more realistic and positive ones.

Behavioural Changes

The behavioural aspect of CBT involves the individual working with the therapist to identify behaviors that are harmful or not helpful and learning to change them. The techniques used to bring about changes in behaviour can include:

  • Role-playing to prepare for potentially problematic interactions with others.
  • Learning to calm one’s mind and relax one’s body.
  • Facing one’s fears instead of avoiding them.
  • Using problem-solving skills to cope with difficult situations.

The Process of CBT

CBT generally involves a number of steps:

  1. Assessment or Psychological Evaluation.
  2. Reconceptualisation.
  3. Skills Acquisition.
  4. Skills Consolidation and Application Training.
  5. Generalisation and Maintenance.
  6. Post-Treatment Assessment Follow-Up.

What to Expect in a CBT Session

CBT sessions typically last about an hour and are structured to ensure that the therapist and the client make the most of each session. During the first few sessions, the therapist will check in on the client’s progress and decide on the course of treatment.

Benefits of CBT

CBT has been extensively investigated in rigorous clinical trials and has empirical support. Some of the benefits of CBT include:

  • It can be as effective as medication in treating some mental health disorders and may be helpful in cases where medication alone has not worked.
  • It can be completed in a relatively short period of time compared to other talking therapies.
  • The highly structured nature of CBT means it can be provided in different formats, including in groups, self-help books, and apps.
  • Skills you learn in CBT are useful, practical, and helpful strategies that can be incorporated into everyday life to help you cope better with future stresses and difficulties, even after the treatment has finished.

Finding CBT Near You

If you’re interested in pursuing Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, finding a provider near you is a critical step. You can search online for “cognitive behavioural therapy near me” to find a therapist. Additionally, your primary care physician or a mental health professional can provide a referral. When looking for a CBT therapist, it’s important to consider their qualifications, experience, and the type of issues they specialise in treating.

Online CBT Options

For those who may not have easy access to in-person therapy sessions, online CBT is an option. Online CBT programs can be a convenient way to receive therapy from the comfort of your own home.

CBT in Different Settings

CBT can be adapted to a wide range of cultural contexts and is being used in various settings, including individual therapy, group therapy, couples therapy, and family therapy. It can also be effectively combined with other treatments, such as medications for depression or anxiety disorders.


Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is a valuable tool in the treatment of a variety of psychological issues. It is evidence-based, practical, and often provides quick results. Whether you are dealing with depression, anxiety, or another mental health issue, CBT offers strategies and techniques to help you better manage your symptoms and improve your quality of life.

With the right therapist and a commitment to the process, CBT can lead to significant improvement in how you think, feel, and act. If you’re interested in exploring CBT, reach out to a qualified therapist and take the first step towards a healthier, happier you.

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