Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (or CBT) is a widely used therapeutic approach that focuses on the connection between thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. It is based on the idea that our thoughts play a crucial role in shaping our emotions and behaviors. The goal of CBT is to identify and change negative thought patterns and behaviors that contribute to emotional distress.

I like to think of CBT as an equation: A + B = C.  A is the action, or the event that happens, and C is the consequence or outcome.  The part that many people miss in this equation is the B, or the Belief about the Action.  Many people mistakenly think that A directly causes C, but that is not case at all.  It is what we tell ourselves about the situation that causes the outcome.  For example, if a person were to go in to his supervisor’s office at work and get written up, they would likely feel angry and resentful, and perhaps even act out because of these feelings.  But what is the “B” here?  One option is the person saying to himself, “my boss doesn’t care about me, he’s unfair to me, I work so hard for this company and don’t get any praise, just criticism.” But, what if that person is wrong?  What if another possibility is to think to himself, “I do come to work 10 minutes late every morning and don’t meet my deadlines, so I need to step up my game and try harder.”  The outcome for the latter belief would likely be starkly different than the former, with the person possibly acknowledging his mistakes and setting a goal for improvement.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

CBT involves recognizing and challenging negative thought patterns, often referred to as cognitive distortions. Clients work with the therapist to replace irrational or harmful thoughts with more balanced and realistic ones. Then the focus becomes modifying behaviors that contribute to emotional difficulties. It involves setting and achieving specific, realistic goals, often through gradual exposure to challenging situations.

CBT is typically a collaborative effort between the therapist and the individual seeking help. It is usually a time-limited approach, with a focus on addressing specific issues and achieving measurable goals within a set period.

CBT has been found to be effective in treating a wide range of mental health issues, including depression, anxiety disorders, phobias, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and more. It is often used as a standalone treatment or in conjunction with other therapeutic approaches and sometimes medications.

One of the strengths of CBT is that it is practical and goal-oriented, making it a popular choice for individuals seeking structured and evidence-based interventions to improve their mood and coping skills.