What Is Cognitive Psychotherapy?

By: Samantha Dewitt

Updated February 13, 2020

Medically Reviewed By: Lauren Guilbeault

Have you been looking into different types of psychotherapy to find the one that might work out best for you? If you have, then you may have already found cognitive psychotherapy. Maybe you've looked at it, and you're trying to figure out if it's the right type of therapy for you. Or maybe you're just a little more curious about it. There are all kinds of reasons to explore this type of therapy, and we're going to jump right into what it is, how it works and what it's used to treat. That way you can better understand if it's for you.

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What Is Cognitive Psychotherapy?

Also known as cognitive-behavioral therapy, this is a short term method to help those with some different types of problems. The idea behind this therapy is to look at thoughts and behaviors and even communication that is taking place in the present, rather than looking at anything that happened in the past like many other forms of therapy. It looks at the types of biases that an individual has and how those can be changed to aid in the improvement of the patient's life overall. But it does this through actual homework assignments.

The patient and therapist work together to learn about how to help themselves and how to improve their overall thoughts and beliefs. It uses homework to charge the patient with evaluating their behaviors and their thoughts at the moment. That way, they can actually start applying the techniques they learn in real-world situations, and without the normal delay. Instead, they start with a practical process and one that is action-oriented and helps them to foster their independence quickly. Because of these things the therapy is generally very short-lived.

How It Works

Okay, so we've looked at some of how it works, but there are a few other things to look at as well. Here, we're going to talk about the process of how it flows through the different steps. The first part is the assessment, which is going to be a self-reporting of different thoughts, beliefs and feelings and more. It helps the therapist to determine more about relationship problems, anxiety, depression, substance abuse, emotional problems and a whole lot more, which can all be used throughout treatment and to help with the selection of treatment.

Next, your therapist may recommend some homework for you that has nothing to do with your thoughts and feelings, at least, not directly. Rather, they may ask you to do some reading and look up information about what you're suffering and how it's affecting you. This is especially important if you're struggling with the diagnosis or if you're not sure that it explains what you're going through. Not only that but that kind of reading can give you a better idea of what to expect throughout the course of treatment and beyond.

As you continue through treatment, you may fill out updated forms as well. These will help you and your therapist to track your progress and to understand better different areas where you might still be struggling. It can help you to set goals and to start recognizing different behaviors. Through the process of filling out these forms, you're going to become even more self-aware as well. This is going to help you to overcome some of the situations that you're going through and to learn the coping mechanisms that will help you in many ways.

Of course, you're going to have a plan for your actual treatment as well, and that's generally going to include you talking with your therapist about different situations and different problems that you may have. It's also going to focus a lot on you learning how to help yourself. After all, your therapist isn't going to be there for you when those difficult situations come up again. You'll need to learn how to cope and how to react more positively and constructively entirely on your own. That's what a lot of your homework is going to focus on because it's going to give you a chance to take action when and how you need to.

The therapy itself is going to help you learn what types of situations cause you to feel upset or cause you to experience that underlying pain. It's going to help you make decisions about those situations immediately at the moment as well. In fact, you'll be able to figure out whether the feelings and thoughts that you have are realistic or unrealistic and then you'll learn how to react accordingly. By learning how to determine unrealistic reactions you're actually going to be better preparing yourself for what you'll do after therapy is over, and you're on your own again.

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What It Treats

So, just what conditions are you able to treat with this type of therapy? The truth is there are plenty of different conditions that can be helped by using cognitive therapy. Anything from depression, anxiety, and anger, to panic, eating disorders, substance abuse, and alcohol abuse can be treated this way. Even personality problems, loneliness, marital conflict, and fears can benefit greatly from cognitive therapy. That means if you're suffering from just about anything you may be able to get more help from pursuing this type of therapy for yourself.

What may be even more important is that anyone could get this type of therapy. Whether you're looking for something to help your children or something for an adult or even something for an adolescent you'll have no problem using cognitive therapy. Even individuals, couples or families can see great benefits. Overall, you're going to want to consider it and at least talk with a therapist to find out more about how you could use cognitive therapy or how it might be able to improve some of your symptoms or even help you work through your overall condition.

Choosing A Therapist

When it comes to choosing a therapist for yourself, you want to find someone that you can feel comfortable with. You're going to be talking to them about some of your deepest held beliefs, thoughts and feelings and you want to make sure that whoever you're talking to will take that very seriously. After all, you want to make sure that you're working your way through the situation that you have and a therapist that you don't open up to is not going to be able to help you. Rather, they're only going to hinder your progress.

Next, you want to make sure you have someone skilled in the specific area that you're dealing with. If you're experiencing depression and anxiety you don't necessarily want a therapist who specializes in marital problems. While they may be an excellent therapist, they don't have the experience that you're looking for because they haven't dealt a lot with individuals who are experiencing what you are. That can make it more difficult for you to overcome the symptoms that you're feeling and the situations that you experience.

You're also going to want someone that is going to be convenient for you to interact with. Not so long ago that might have meant someone who was located close to you, but that doesn't need to be the case anymore. In fact, it's rarely the case anymore. Why would you want to be limited to only the people who are in physical proximity when there's a whole wealth of psychiatrists and therapists out there in the world? With the help of online therapy, you have the opportunity to reach out to them as well, and you may be surprised just how much that can help you with anything you're going through.

Online Therapy

When it comes to new technology, online therapy is one of the best aspects you're going to find. Rather than being limited by physical proximity you're able to talk with a therapist that's located anywhere in the world. That gives you a whole lot more freedom in finding someone that you feel comfortable with and someone who has experience with what you're going through. You'll also be able to contact them practically whenever you want and set up schedules and appointments that are more convenient for you because it's all online.

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If you're looking for an online therapist and you're not quite sure how to find them or where to turn, BetterHelp should be the first place you look. You'll not only find therapists who are trained and certified in practically every type of therapy, but you're also going to find information about all different conditions and mental health disorders. You'll be able to find out a whole lot more information, you'll be able to get the therapist that you want, and you're going to start seeing the benefits of online therapy specifically, as well as how you can start getting your life back together.

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