What is Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)?

CBT is a method of psychotherapy that targets how one thinks and acts as a way of modifying how one feels. The general method was largely validated through studies done by Aaron T. Beck and his colleagues at the University of Pennsylvania.

CBT works to overcome distorted thinking about you, the future, and the world around you. Often, the distorted thinking can be related to an interference of recognizing the reality of your situation caused by depression, anxiety, or other mood states. Also, disruptions to your normal behaviors, such as engaging in enjoyable activities or keeping to a daily routine, can undermine your sense of competence and your enjoyment of life.

By helping a client use behaviors (keeping to a routine, acting in enjoyable ways), CBT teaches how to test the evidence in life to accept or dispel distorted ideas or challenge unhealthy beliefs or attitudes.

Additionally, some forms of CBT incorporate methods often called behavioral therapy strategies. These include learning to overcome fear through exposure to anxiety, preventing rituals, relaxation training, or controlling exposure to triggers of unhealthy behaviors. It is often also helpful to identify where a client might be in their readiness to change and help you to overcome you internal obstacles to benefiting from CBT.

The essential element of CBT is that it relies on evidence based therapies (EBTs). EBTs are sometimes procedures that have been shown to produce valid outcomes from therapy, or they are sometimes approaches to treatment that have been shown to improve the chances of you feeling better and acting in a healthier way.

While there are various ways to see if your psychologist or mental health workers is able to deliver CBT, two ways CCBT suggest you consider are a) looking for a Board Certified Cognitive and Behavioral Psychology (www.abpp.org) or someone who holds a certification from the Academy of Cognitive Therapy (www.academyofcognitivetherapy.org). You can also contact our national association, the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies (www.abct.org)