Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or CBT, has been around since the early 1960s, developed by psychiatrist Dr. Aaron T. Beck where he was a psychiatrist at the University of Pennsylvania. In fact, Dr. Beck is still teaching at the same university at the age of 97. This distinguished doctor formatted the idea for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy after noticing that many of his clients had internal dialogues similar to talking to themselves, with their thoughts impacting their feelings and actions. He named it CBT since it focused on the clients' thought processes. Dr. Beck, who is nicknamed the father of CBT, now has an institute called the Institute, which is the leading international source for resources, therapy, and training in CBT.
The Founder Of CBT
During his studies of CBT for depression, he began to notice that his depressed clients had streams of spontaneous negative thoughts that caused depression. He called them automatic thoughts and figured out that they fit into three categories, which included negative ideas about the future, the world, and themselves. These feelings affect your behaviors. For example, if a person believes that nobody likes them, they will constantly be anxious and have low self-esteem, causing them to avoid people and are unable to have successful relationships.
Although Dr. Beck founded CBT, psychotherapy or talk therapy was developed by Dr. Sigmund Freud in the 1890s. Soon after that, Carl Jung and Alfred Adler started introducing their conceptions of psychological findings to help those with psychological illnesses such as depression and anxiety. They are well-known for the therapy now known as psychodynamic therapy. In the early 1920s, behaviorism was the main type of psychology being used and continued to be the focus until the late 1950s when cognitivism and existential-humanistic therapy became popular. Humanism became the main focus for the next decade or so, consisting of empathic, positive therapeutic relationships as well as Albert Ellis' rational therapy, now referred to as rational emotive behavior therapy, or REBT.
The History Of CBT
It was during his time that Dr. Beck started his tenure at the University of Pennsylvania where he conducted the depression research clinic. After several years of practicing and teaching psychoanalysis, Beck was finding it difficult to use the common approaches that were used for treating depression and started searching for a more successful way to treat his clients. As he gained more insight into human emotions and unconscious drives, Dr. Beck found that the cognitive approach was more reliable, and he developed the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI). BDI became a major universal tool for diagnosing depressive disorders. He also started noticing a theme in which his clients were experiencing negative thoughts that made a big impact on their feelings and emotions as well as their actions and behaviors. This was the beginning of CBT as it is known today.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy is used successfully for treating more than just depression though. In fact, CBT is widely used in many aspects to treat anxiety, eating disorders, chronic pain, addiction, phobias, panic attacks, post-traumatic stress disorder, relationship issues, trauma and grief, sleep disorders, and bipolar disorder. Some of the cognitive behavioral therapy techniques used include untangling thought distortions, journaling, cognitive restructuring, exposure therapy, progressive muscle relaxation (PMR), and relaxed breathing.
One of the main goals of CBT is untangling your thoughts, and you can do this at home by yourself or with the help of a therapist. You need to become aware of thought distortions you are most vulnerable to so you can identify and change them.
Writing down your thoughts and feelings is an excellent way to figure out what is going on. By paying attention and keeping track of your moods and emotions, you can trace it to what is causing it. You can also use the journal to track the times and dates of these occurrences and how you responded to these issues. This can help you find patterns and learn to change or cope with them better.
This technique is used once you can identify the distorted thoughts and feelings you have been having. You will then be able to learn how this distortion started and why it seemed so real at the time. In doing this, you will be able to target certain beliefs that are negative and challenge them so you can change them.
There are several types of exposure therapy depending on what you are trying to treat. For example, if you have a phobia or an anxiety disorder, you can start to expose yourself to what causes that fear or anxiety in small amounts until you realize that you do not have to be afraid or stressed out.
For those familiar with mindfulness, progressive muscle relaxation, or PMR, is similar to the body scan. This helps you to identify each muscle group and relax them one at a time until your whole body is relaxed. PMR can be done at home or in the therapist's office, or you can try using online therapy to learn the technique so you can do it on your own.
This is another technique similar to mindfulness, meditation, and yoga. There are many options of how to relax your breathing including guided imagery, audio recordings, YouTube videos, or online therapy. Relaxed breathing can be used alone or with PMR to induce whole body and mind relaxation.
Some Examples Of CBT Exercises
There are also many CBT exercises that therapists teach their clients to help them cope with their thoughts and emotions. While there are specific exercises structured just for certain issues, many of them can be used for several types of mental or emotional problems. Here are a few of them:
How Does CBT Work?
According to the experts, CBT works on the basis that your feelings and behavior are affected by how you think. It treats specific problems by choosing goals that you want to achieve to succeed. This type of therapy can be in the form of individual face-to-face therapy, group sessions, or online therapy. What makes CBT so effective is that it is structured and teaches skills and strategies to help get rid of negative thoughts and feelings. Most people believe that our feelings are caused by things that happen to us such as arguments with a loved one or a bad day at work. However, it is the thoughts that you have about these situations that cause negative feelings. These automatic thoughts that linger in our minds after the event are what create the anger or sadness that we feel and CBT is a way to train your brain to stop lingering on those negative thoughts and feelings.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy is not just used to help you relax or sort your emotions. The practice of CBT can be helpful in marriage or family therapy to help make your relationship stronger or to deal with problems in the family dynamic. In fact, CBT is especially effective for adolescents who have anger or behavioral issues as well as anxiety problems. Young people are commonly affected by anxiety disorders and have higher rates of anxiety disorders than those under the age of 11 years old. Treating anxiety in adolescents can be tough because of all the hormonal changes, peer pressure, and new relationships being developed but CBT has been extremely successful in this area.
CBT For All Other Issues
However, CBT is a wonderful type of treatment that can help with just about any sort of mental, emotional, or behavioral issues. With addiction, you can use CBT to break the cycle of using drugs, alcohol, or whatever it is you are struggling to break free of. And CBT can help you focus your thoughts and emotions to control phobias and defuse panic attacks. In fact, CBT is one of the best and most effective treatments for anyone who is trying to deal with any kind of negative thought processes, and if you choose to do so, you can even get CBT from home without an appointment by using online therapy.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What does cognitive behavioral therapy involve?
Cognitive behavioral therapy CBT is an approach to mental health that has been used to treat eating disorders, depression, anxiety, post traumatic stress disorder PTSD, a variety of panic disorders and obsessive compulsive disorder OCD.
CBT is a form of psychotherapy that involves communicating with a therapist about your particular needs. Your treatment strategy may involve a variety of exercises and effective tools, such as role playing and goal oriented thinking patterns.
What is an example of cognitive behavioral therapy?
The American Psychological Association recognizes a variety of therapy approaches as cognitive behavioral therapy. It is sometimes referred to as an “umbrella term.” These approaches include dialectical behavioral therapy, acceptance and commitment therapy, and mindfulness based cognitive behavior therapy.
All of these methods have one major thing in common - they try to teach coping skills, change your ways of thinking and are goal oriented. Therapy sessions can be helpful for a variety of mental illnesses, including social anxiety, borderline personality disorder and eating disorders.
Can you do CBT on yourself?
Yes. The goal of seeking mental health treatment is to give you the tools to change your thought patterns and find solutions on your own. If you struggle with a mental illness, stress management can be challenging. Therapy sessions can help you progress over time to guide your own thoughts and feelings.
If you think CBT could be beneficial for you, find a therapist that specializes in CBT, and learn more about how it can help your overall mental health.
How long does it take for cognitive behavioral therapy to work?
CBT is based on a short term treatment model, but the length of time it may take for you to notice changes is specific to you. Many people notice positive changes in their mental health right away, but some others that live a very stressful life or have a more severe mental illness may take longer.
The American Psychological Association states that most people receive 12-16 CBR therapy sessions overall. CBT is a proven mental health care method and clinical practice that works.
What is CBT not good for?
CBT is a very structured approach to mental health that confronts emotions head on. For someone with very complex mental illness, they may find these therapy sessions alone aren’t enough to tackle their mental health needs. In addition, people who struggle with learning disabilities or very young children may find themselves overwhelmed by it.
Who needs cognitive behavioral therapy?
Anyone who is looking for tools to deal with their stressful life can benefit from cognitive behavioral therapy. Mental health is something that many people struggle with, and CBT can be a great method to restructure your thoughts and feelings to lead a healthier life overall.
CBT therapy can be used for many mental health disorders, including post traumatic stress disorder PTSD, obsessive compulsive disorder OCD and generalized anxiety disorder.
What are the three main goals in cognitive therapy?
CBT has three main goals:
What are the techniques of cognitive behavioral therapy?
The American Psychological Association recognizes a variety of techniques that are helpful in CBT treatment. Some common ones include:
What is CBT for anxiety?
There is a lot of health information out there regarding anxiety, as it is the most common group of mental health disorders in America. CBT has been proven to be a very effective method to combat the negative thoughts that are associated with anxiety disorders.
What are cognitive techniques?
Cognitive techniques are activities and tools that are recognized by the American Psychological Association as beneficial ways to restructure your thought patterns. Throughout CBT treatment, your therapist will teach you these techniques to help you in your daily life.
Does CBT really work?
Yes! CBT has been proven to be a very effective therapy model.
What is the success rate of cognitive behavioral therapy?
CBT is very successful. Recent studies have shown it to be up to 75% effective for anxiety and depression when used as a primary therapy method. It can also be successful in treating someone with a personality disorder, or a variety of mental illnesses.
Can CBT make anxiety worse?
At the beginning of cognitive behavioral therapy, some people find that they feel heightened emotions or thoughts, because they are activating a new way of thinking. This can be uncomfortable at first, but results in less anxiety long term.
What is cognitive behavioral therapy for weight loss?
Regardless of the health information available, many people have a hard time losing weight, which can have a detrimental effect on their self-esteem. CBT has been shown to help people struggling to lose weight because of the ways it helps turn negative thoughts into more rational ones.
For example, if looking at a bag of chocolates, a person may feel resentment and eat the entire bag because they’re thinking “I’m going to treat myself and eat them all, because I’ve been depriving myself lately.” Someone who thinks from a CBT-mentality would think “yum. I’m going to have one single chocolate and savor every bite.”
How do I practice CBT for anxiety?
CBT is a great method for combatting anxiety, because it can help you reshape your thoughts to be more solution-focused and rational. It’s also a therapy method that provides relaxation tools for you to use on your own. The best mental health information you can receive is from a licensed therapist that can cater to your specific needs.
Regardless of whether you’re struggling with an anxiety disorder, personality disorder or another mental illness, many health insurance policies cover treatment. Check out your plan today, and see if you’ve covered to meet with a specialist. Mental health therapy is one of the greatest investments you can make.
What are the 4 steps of cognitive restructuring?
Cognitive restructuring is a mental health technique that is developed over the course of cognitive behavioral therapy sessions. It’s used to reframe thoughts and feelings to be more rational, goal oriented and positive.
Someone struggling with a personality disorder, for example, may think that impulsive and negative thoughts are facts. Cognitive restructuring can help them re-program their thoughts to focus on finding solutions, and to take a more logical approach.
BetterHelp offers affordable and accessible counseling options, regardless if you have health insurance. Don’t hesitate to reach out to one of our licensed therapists today. It’s never a bad time to get a better grasp on your mental health for the better.